Hairless rats are known as the strangest-looking member of the rat family. They are often chosen for pets simply because they are unique, and they are wonderful conversation starters. Hairless rats do require a little more care than other species of rats, but they still make wonderful companions for both children and adults.
Hairless rats are known to be one of the most docile breeds. True hairless rats have no hair at all, not even whiskers. Other breeds of rats may have small tufts or hair around the nose, ankles, or tail. The true hairless rats are bred from Rex rats. When a rat has only one Rex gene, it is born with very thick and curly fur. When there are two Rex genes, the rat is born hairless. Because hairless rats do not have any fur, they are much more susceptible to temperature fluctuations and need a different level of care than normal rats.
To provide the best environment for a hairless rat, cages should be placed away from windows and drafts. Wood chips cannot be used for a hairless rat’s bedding because it could tear or splinter their extremely sensitive skin. Commercially prepared soft pellets or newspapers are excellent alternatives. The soiled bedding has to be removed daily, and the entire cage must be cleaned once a week. Hairless rats are more susceptible to skin sores and infections than other rats, so their environment must remain clean at all times.
Hairless rats need more fat and calories in their diet because calories are expended producing heat. Regular commercial rat food is a great choice, but will need to be supplemented with other foods like avocado and cheese in order to meet caloric needs.
Dry skin and sebaceous cysts are the two most common issues faced by hairless rats. Dry skin can be treated at home. By placing drops of olive oil on a slice of bread and feeding it to the rat, the olive oil will get onto the skin and help relieve dryness. Sebaceous cysts usually require veterinary attention, and that could include treatment with antibiotics. Bathing a hairless rat twice weekly with antibacterial soap can help ward off the cysts.
Although hairless rats make great pets for anyone of any age, close adult supervision is required to ensure the rat stays happy and healthy. They demand a lot of attention, and are better suited for people who have the time to devote to their care.