Pet rat varieties have fascinated us over the years and for many, it has been quite a revelation to find out that there are in fact so many pet rat varieties which we did not probably know of. Differentiation of pet rat varieties has been carried out over the years and today, they are known as fancy rats, for their different orientation.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, rat-catchers were known to round up rats and sell them off for sport. The sport, though inhumane, led to the adoption of rats and their breeding. These rats would be thrown into a pit with a terrier and bets would be made as to the time it would take the terrier to kill all the rats. As the sport became popular, rat owners would begin using coloured rats or rats with specific markings as their trademark. This led to the breeding of rats and as the sport lost popularity, rats slowly became pets.
Pet rat varieties have become an interesting study for a creature which has such a negative impression on our minds. Today, scores of people are adopting fancy pet rat varieties and loving them for what they are – beautiful animals! Pet rat varieties are differentiated based on a variety of features such as:
- Pet rat colouring: Pet rat varieties are often differentiated on the basis of their colouring. Like the wild brown rat, some rats tend to retain the same feature, called agouti. Agouti is a form of pet rat colouring where the rat has three different colours on the same strand of hair. These rats can be black, beige or cinnamon coloured, depending on the primary pet rat colouring tone that they possess. Amongst other pet rat colouring features, the eyes are also noted for their various shades.
- Pet rat markings: Pet rat varieties differentiated on the basis of markings are quite commonly available in pet stores and with breeders. Pet rat markings have fixed formats which are either solid white with patches of other colours or a solid white with the colour slowly fading to a different colour near the nose, ears, tails and feet. There are many specific pet rat marking styles, like Berkshire and Hooded pet rat markings which are extremely specific in terms of their appearance. The clarity and adherence to norms of these pet rat markings are judged in contests.
- Pet rat body types: Pat rat varieties can be differentiated into two major categories based on their body types. Depending on their breeding, pet rat body types can be either a “Dumbo”, where the rats have large ears which are low and on the side of the head; or “Manx”, where the shape of the body is similar to that of Manx cats, which have a very short, or no tail.
- Pet rat coat types: Pet rat varieties have also been differentiated based on their coat’s texture. While there is no standardization in terms of competition specific coat, there are a few varieties such as “Rex”, where the entire coat is curly, including the whiskers. A softer version of the Rex, known as “Velveteen”, is also available while there are the normal rats. Based on how coarse the coat is, the shine on it, or the texture, pet rat coat types can be used to define different pet rat varieties.
- Hairless Rats: Hairless rats are pet rat varieties that are basically the outcome of the mating of two “Rex” coat rats. Normally it takes just one Rex coat rat, out of the two mates, to have a Rex coat for the offspring. However, when “Double Rex”, as they are called, rats are involved, the offspring are semi-hairless or completely hairless rats depending on the extent of their combination.
- Pet rat selective breeding: Pet rat selective breedingis a major part of the hobby of having pet rats. You may decide on having a particular pet rat variety and thus, breed rats of that particular variety only. However, it has its downside as well as breeding for competition often leads to the culling, or selling for food, of rats that are not up to the standards in terms of markings. However, if your interests are purely for a hobby of owning different pet rat varieties, then selective breeding will help you grow your colony of pet rat varieties.
Whether you are someone who loves rats or someone who likes to enter competitions with your favourite rats, there are many pet rat varieties to tingle your tastes. Not only do these pet rat varieties offer a wonderful array of variation amongst your pet rats, they are also a wonderful gift to your child. A wonderful world opens up as you introduce them to different pet rat varieties.