Hairless rats are a particular breed of rat which do not have hair or a coat on their body. Also known as Sphinx Rats, these hairless rats are genetically nude and therefore, have nothing unnatural about them. Today, hairless rats are extremely popular amongst people looking to rear or breed rats and despite their appearance, they have been known to be quite cuddly.

In the 18th century, rats were mainly used for sport-betting. Owners would toss rats into a pit with a terrier and bet on how long it would take for the dog to kill the rats. Surprisingly, rearing and breeding rats as a hobby grew out of this gruesome sport as these owners starting using particular breeds of rat to create their identity. Hairless rats, and other species, were bred by owners and once the sport died out, people continued to rear rats in their homes.

Although hairless rats may be available with your local pet shop, it is always advisable to approach a learned and known breeder. This ensures that not only are the rats healthy and strong, they are free of disease, which is the biggest roadblock for humans when it comes to keeping rats as pets.

If you would like to know how hairless rats become who they are, then the story goes to their breeding. Of course, this is relevant only if you are looking to breed hairless rats. Hairless rats are born of ‘Double Rex’ parents. What this means is that when the mating rats are of the ‘Rex’ breed, then the offspring are hairless or semi-hairless. So if you are looking at breeding rats, you need to understand the science behind the concept and thereafter, take it up.

If you are just starting out and want to breed hairless rats, then you can go to a professional breeder and get some tips on the right techniques and the dos and don’ts. This will not only help you understand the finer details of how to breed hairless rats, it will also help you maintain a good sized, healthy population of hairless rats that can, later on, be sold to pet shops and interested hobbyists.

Hairless rats are, in no way, different from rats with hair. However, due to the absence of fur, they require slightly different care. Special, softer, bedding is required for hairless rats as they like to cuddle up in warm & soft places. Old tee-shirts, jerseys or even fleece may be used as bedding although care should be taken to remove any loose threads as they may hurt the rat.

The hairless rat’s cage must always be placed in a warm location, away from any drafts, as they can get cold in a jiffy. It is also important to keep the cage clean and well ventilated as hairless rats do not have any fur to protect their sensitive skin. Waste matter can easily cause rashes on their nude skin. Hairless rats tend to cuddle up to each other when living in communities, hence it is best if your rat has some companions, hairy or otherwise, to cuddle up to on a cold night.

What you feed your rats in general, may not work for the hairless variety. Hairless rats need more fat and calories as they require more energy to maintain their body temperature. Feeding them Avocado, meat, nuts and cream is always a good option.

Hairless rats have sensitive skin and it might dry up. It is always advisable to pick your rat up regularly and if you feel any dry skin, bread chunks soaked in olive oil will help the moisture return to those problem areas. Baby oil (vet recommended) or olive oil can be rubbed on the spot if the bread chunks fail to clear it.

Rats are sensitive creatures and although hardy, can lose their health quite rapidly. Having a vet on the speed dial is never a bad idea. Remember to take care of your hairless rat a bit more because they are prone to a few more problems as compared to normal rats. However, once you master their rearing art, you will never stop having fun with hairless rats.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.