Top Pet Rat Breeds – How to Choose the Best Pet for You

If you’re looking for a unique pet, you may want to consider a pet rat! While some people wouldn’t consider rats as pets, domesticated rats are clean, sweet, and affectionate. They also come in various breeds and colors so you can find one (or three) that you like best. 

Below, we’ll talk about the seven different breeds of rats that you can own as pets. These breeds include:

  • Standard Rats
  • Rex Rats
  • Tailless Rats
  • Skinny Rats
  • Satin Rats
  • Bristle Coat Rats
  • Dumbo Rats
pet rat breeds

Why Own Pet Rats?

As mentioned previously, pet rats are quite different from the wild rats you may see outside on the street. 

Domesticated rats, sometimes called “fancy rats,” are soft, sweet, and affectionate creatures that love their owners. 

They’re also clean and do not smell as long as you care for their cage properly. Plus, pet rats are extremely smart, and can learn lots of tricks and routines in addition to being litter-trained. 

Rat Coat Colors

There are a variety of coat colors out there that your pet rats can have. These coat colors include: 

  • Mink
  • Champagne
  • Dove
  • Blue
  • Powder blue
  • White
  • Black

Fancy rats can also have a variety of coat patterns, including:

  • Cinnamon
  • Agouti
  • Blue agouti
  • Fawn
  • Silvered
  • Argente

As if that wasn’t enough variety, pet rats can also have several different eye colors and fur markings. 

There are over 12 identified types of markings that rats can have, which means any rat you get will be completely unique compared to other rats in fur color, eye color, fur texture, pattern, and markings!

Different Pet Rat Breeds

1. Standard Rats

Standard rats are the most common rat breed in the pet trade. After all, they’re called the “standard” for a reason! 

These rats have smooth, glossy coats made of short hair that grow all over their bodies. They also have long whiskers and tails. 

A critical note about standard rats is that female rats and male rats often feel different from one another. 

The hormones in male rats give them a greasier, coarser coat than female rats, which can be challenging when handling your rats. If your rat is neutered, however, it will have a softer, drier coat similar to a female’s. 

2. Rex Rats

Rex rats look almost like tiny stuffed animals with their thick, curly hair. These rats look extremely fluffy and often feel like wool due to the thick texture of their coat. 

pet rat breeds

In addition to their fur, their whiskers are also curly, often hanging down from their cheeks. Rex rats are sometimes called sheep rats because of their unique appearance!

Owners of this breed of rat will have to look out for their rats’ eyes to make sure their curly hair doesn’t poke them. 

Rex rats have a spectrum of curliness depending on their genetics. Those with both rex genes have such tight, curly hair that they can sometimes even look hairless. They may also experience thinning fur or bald patches as they get older due to their genetics

3. Manx Rats

Manx rats, also known as tailless rats, are unique compared to other rat breeds for an obvious reason – they don’t have tails! 

These rats are born without tails due to a genetic defect and are often smaller and rounder than other breeds of rats. 

However, it is important to also note that Manx rats often have additional health problems later in life, likely from genetic issues related to their lack of a tail. 

If you plan to own this rat breed, keep in mind that they are more susceptible to a variety of illnesses and may have bladder control issues later in life. Those willing to consider Manx rats despite the amount of bedding you may go through, still find that these rats make excellent pets!

4. Skinny Rats

Skinny rats, also known as hairless rats, are rats without fur! These rats look similar to sphynx cats, which also do not have hair. 

Though they are bred to have as little fur as possible, skinny rats often still have small fur patches around their mouths and whiskers. Skinny rat color can vary, but it is often some combination of pink and black skin depending on the rat’s markings. 

If you’re interested in skinny rats, it is important to keep in mind that they have unique requirements compared to other rat breeds

Because they don’t have fur, these rats are more susceptible to skin infections and injuries. Without fur, their skin can get dry easily, so you will have to put pet-safe lotion on them regularly. You will also have to keep your rat’s cage away from a window to ensure it doesn’t get a sunburn. 

5. Satin Rats

At first glance, satin rats look extremely like standard rats, but they do have some distinctions upon further look. 

Satin rats have straight hair like standard rats, but their hair is much finer and slightly longer than standard rats. 

This gives them a softer, silkier coat compared to other rat breeds. They also have some slight curling at the end of their whiskers that helps to distinguish them from standard rats. 

6. Bristle Coat Rats

If you’ve ever pet a wirehair terrier, you already know what a bristle coat rat feels like. Bristle coat rats have wiry, firm hair that makes up an extremely coarse coat. 

These rats often feel rough to the touch and sometimes have small curls in their whiskers, similar to satin rats. However, the two are distinguishable by their overall coat texture. 

7. Dumbo Rats

As the name implies, dumbo rats are known for their unique ears. Similar to the famous Disney elephant, their ears are rounded and lower on their heads compared to other rat breeds. 

dumbo rats as pets

Besides their ears, dumbo rats are much like other breeds of rats in terms of size, tail length, fur color, and fur texture. 

How to Choose a Pet Rat

When going to pick out your new furry friend, there are a few things to look out for to ensure you find the best companion for you. 

Firstly, many people ask which is the most friendly rat breed, if you’re looking for a cute and cuddly rat, Dumbo rats are generally considered the most social. 

Now, here are some other things to consider:

Gender – Male rats are generally a little larger than females, but are also considered to be calmer pets. Female rats on the other hand are more active and would generally rather engage in an activity like playing with toys than sit still. They also go into heat every 4-5 days. 

Health – Check your rat’s eyes, fur, and breathing. Swelling, unusual smells, cloudy eyes, sneezing, and scabby skin are all signs of illness in a rat. 

Temperament – Play with the rats and observe how they act with specific interactions. See which ones come up to you to be pat, if they squirm when picked up or show any signs of aggression. 


Fancy rats are a great choice of pet for those wanting something unique yet relatively easy to care for. Thanks to their size, they also make excellent choices for those living in small homes or apartments. 

Before bringing your pet rats home, make sure you consider the breeds that interest you so you can pick the best ones possible to give a new home. 

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