Fancy rats are unlike your normal rats that you see in pet stores and with breeders. However, the fancy rat is the most popular type of rat that is kept as a pet. There are a number of characteristics that differentiate a fancy rat from a regular wild rat and it is these features that make them more loveable to their owners.

In the 18th and 19th century, there were many tales of rat-catchers who would trap wild rats and then sell them for sport. People would throw these rats into pits and let a terrier loose, betting on how long it would take for the terriers to kill them all. Somewhere down the ages, these catchers began breeding normal & odd-coloured rats. Mary Douglas, an English woman, was known to have begun keeping fancy rats as pets. She was the first to ask permission to get her rats at an exhibition of the National Mouse Club. Her black and white hooded rat won the best in show award and soon, the hobby took to everyone?s fancy.

Fancy rats, like their other cousins are social creatures and like to live in communities. When picking a fancy rat, you need to look for any signs of weakness or lethargy. Only happy and energetic rats should be picked as they are normally healthier than the remaining bunch. Fancy rats are in great demand and because of their tame nature, are a lot of fun to have and observe.

Fancy rats, like their cousins, need a lot of exercise and putting an exercise mill or other small equipment in their cage will help them remain healthy. Even though fancy rats are tamer than their wild versions, they need regular contact in their early days so that they can get used to your smell, touch and voice. Fancy rats also require mental stimulation which can be in the form of small puzzles available at various pet stores.

Fancy rats can have beautiful colour on their coat. While most wild rats end up being dark brown, fancy rats can be anything from white to blue even. There are different types or classifications of these fancy rats based on their colouring. Fancy rats that have white bellies but coloured tops are called Berkshires while Hooded rats have colour that runs down the back of their head and along the spine. Capped rats have colour only on top of their head while variegated rats have full colour on their heads, with a single white line running on their foreheads.

Fancy rats need to be fed either commercially processed food or pellets available at any pet stores or if you are someone who believes in natural food, then you can give them brown rice, whole-meal bread or even vegetables. Every now and then, you need to offer them some tasty treats like boiled pasta or other tidbits but this should never include milk or junk food.

Extremely tame and friendly creatures, fancy rats are fast becoming a popular pet across the world and if you are looking for guidance, then there are a number of pet stores and clubs where you can get correct information on what to do to keep your fancy rat healthy and happy.