Masked rats are a wonderful variation to the normal rat and are a part of the family called fancy rats. They are incredible creatures that have a distinct marking on their face which gives them the appearance of wearing a mask(thus their name), which differentiates these masked rats from other varieties. Predominantly reared and bred by professional breeders, over the years, the masked rat has refined its coat and coloring with a fine process of selective breeding.
The masked rat is one of the special members of the rodent lineage that are distinguished based on the markings on their face. Like the name suggests, these rats have coloured patches on their face which resemble a mask similar to the ‘Mask of Zorro’, as in the legendary film character. The patches are usually black in colour while the eyes of the mouse are also black.
The masked rat has an otherwise white body that is completely free of any stains or coloring. For a rat to qualify as a masked rat, the white colour should not have any yellow or cream coloration. Even most have black masks, the mask can actually be of any colour and it would still qualify as a masked rat for competitions as well.
The shape of the mask is such that it covers only the eyes and is curved above the nose – as opposed to the hooded rate whose head marking cover most of the head.. The masked rat looks as if it were wearing a sleeping eye mask, without the supporting elastic band. For a rat to be classified as a masked rat, the markings should not extend to, or beyond, the ears and nor should it flow down to the cheeks or under the muzzle.
Another important factor for the classification is that the masked rat must have a white tail. The tail cannot have any coloured hair or spots on it for it to be classified as a masked rat.
Breeding Masked rats
If you are looking to become a breeder of masked rats, then both rats in the pair need to be masked rats in order for the offspring to be of the same breed. The marking colours and shape of the forehead markings of the parents is most likely going to determine the coloud/shape of these markings on their offspring so choose adults with perfect markings to ensure that the offspring also have the appearance. Pups may not show the markings distinctly on birth in some cases however as they mature the markings will first become visible then more prominent.
Whether you are looking to gift one to your child or become a breeder, masked rats are a wonderful companion and one that’s easy to care for. They require nothing out of the ordinary in terms of pet rat care and will ensure that once you get a masked rat, you will never look back.
At the time of writing this article however, we were unable to locate any masked rat breeders in Australia and with Australia’s strict rodent importing laws, this is unlikely to change soon.