The rat is a sociable pet appreciating the company of others. Rats are nocturnal becoming more active in the evenings and during the night. Rats are intelligent and affectionate making them extremely good pets.

Information about the coat types of the pet rat.

“Fancy rat” is the term given to domesticated rats. They come in a range of sizes, shapes and unusual colours. Since the 1970s, they have also been bred specifically for showing with the National Fancy Rat Society developing breed standards. They are extremely intelligent, friendly and a perfect pet for children or adults.

There is controversy among rat fanciers in regard to selective breeding.[29][30] On one hand, breeding rats to "conform" to a specific standard or to develop a new one is a large part of what the fancy was founded on. On the other hand, the process results in many rats who do not "conform", and are then either given away, sold as food, or killed—referred to as culling.

Samantha Martin, a professional animal trainer for films, commercials, and music videos, has claimed that rats are one of the easiest animals to train due to their adaptability, intelligence, and focus.[47]

As in other pet species, a variety of colors, coat types, and other features that do not appear in the wild have either been developed, or have appeared spontaneously. Any individual rat may be defined one or more ways by its color, coat, marking, and non-standard body type. This allows for very specific classifications such as a ruby-eyed cinnamon Berkshire rex Dumbo.[2]

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Fancy rats care for themselves, and are thus very affordable compared to even other small pets. This is one of the biggest draws to them. Additionally, fancy rats are quite independent, loyal and easily trained, earning them comparison to both cats and dogs. This comparison is merited given fancy rats are considered more intelligent than any other domesticated rodent.

Although they originate from brown rats domesticated in the 18th Century, they are very different from the rats we see on the streets. They have longer lifespans than wild rats, living up to two or three years. They are more willing to explore new areas and eat new foods, and enjoy the company of humans. They are however prone to catching infections from their owners. As with many rodents, they can also suffer from tumours.

Information about the physical mutations of the pet rat.

Information about the coat patterns of the pet rat.

In fiction, pet brown rats are often depicted as tamed rather than domesticated, akin to when a character befriends a wolf. As tamed pets, they have been portrayed in roles that vary from evil to ambiguous to lovable.[46][not in citation given]

Particularly with males, there can be some fighting in the beginning, but once an alpha rat has been determined, the rats should get along well.[17] Within two weeks to a month, the rats will most likely have adjusted and become friendlier with each other. Rats are generally very friendly to other cage mates, particularly with females. They will even sometimes help or take care of other sick rats.

Eye color is considered a subset of coloring, and coat color definitions often include standards for the eyes, as many genes which control eye color will also affect the coat color or vice versa. The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA) lists black, pink, ruby, and odd-eyed (two different-colored eyes) as possible eye colors, depending on the variety of rat shown.[22] Ruby refers to eyes which at a glance appear black but which are on closer observation a deep, dark red.

The scientific classification of pet rats within the Mammalia class.

Pet rats can also develop pituitary tumors if they are given high-calorie diets,[35] and ringtail if they are placed in areas with low humidity or high temperatures.[41] Staphylococcus spp. are a mostly benign group of bacteria that commonly reside on the top of the skin, but cuts and scratches from social and hierarchical fighting can open up the pathways for them to cause ulcerative dermatitis.[36]

Fancy rats have their origins as the targets for blood sport in 18th- and 19th-century Europe. Specially bred as pets since then, fancy rats now come in a wide variety of colors and coat types and are bred and raised by several rat enthusiast groups around the world. Fancy rats are commonly sold as pets in stores and by breeders.

Markings have a strict standard, with detailed terminology, for showing in fancy rat pet shows. However, many domestic rats are not closely bred to any color standard; many of those found in pet shops will have mismarkings from a formal breeding perspective, which are defined as variations in markings that are not recognized as conforming to a breed standard published by a rat fancier organisation.

The Fancy Rat's ancestor is the Brown Rat, also known as the sewer rat (Rattus norvegicus) which can be seen in the wild. Bred in captivity in sterile conditions in laboratories has resulted in a disease free and friendly pet that today is referred to as the Fancy Rat.

While domesticated rats are not removed enough from their wild counterparts to justify a distinct subspecies (compare Canis lupus familiaris), there are significant differences that set them apart; the most apparent is coloring. Random color mutations may occur in the wild, but these are rare. Most wild R. norvegicus are a dark brown color, while fancy rats may be anything from white to cinnamon to blue.[9]

The fancy rat is a domesticated brown rat (Rattus norvegicus), which is the most common type of pet rat.[1] The name fancy rat derives from the idea of animal fancy (promotion of domesticated animals) or the phrase "to fancy" (to like, or appreciate).[2]

Generally speaking, rats are quite sociable and function best with at least one cage mate. It is generally ill-advised to keep a singular rat unless there are severe behavioral problems, such as those that can be seen in some older males.[16] The earlier rats are introduced to one another, the better and oftentimes, rat breeders will encourage new owners to take two or more rats of the same gender from the same litter for starters.

In the 1996 point-and-click adventure game Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, the protagonist Curtis Craig owns a pet rat named Blob, which is seen various times in the game and is even involved in one of the many puzzles that the player must decipher.

Human-raised R. norvegicus are more prone to specific health risks and diseases than their wild counterparts, but they are also far less likely to succumb to certain illnesses that are prevalent in the wild. The major considerations for susceptibility include exposure, living conditions, and diet.

All domesticated rats are a variation of the types and colours detailed here – any rat for sale on Pets4Homes will be a fancy rat type or colour. If you want to show your rat, check with the breeder to see if they are registered with any of the rat breed and show societies. The National Fancy Rat Society has a list of breeders, and can help with any enquiries you have about showing, breeding or general rat care.

Biological facts about pet rats. Behaviour Of Rats Rat behaviour and communication.

In many versions of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, the master and adoptive father of the turtles is Splinter, who was once the pet rat of ninja Hamato Yoshi and learned his martial arts skills by imitating his owner.

The average lifespan of a rat is 2-2½ years although they can live longer and up to 3-4 years has been known.

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Fancy Rat

The body structure of domesticated rats differs from that of a wild rat as well. The body of a fancy rat is smaller, with larger ears and a longer tail than that of its undomesticated counterpart. They are generally smaller with sharper facial features as well.

Other marking varieties include spotted or Dalmatian (named for the spotted Dalmatian dog), essex, masked, and Siamese (typically a gradient of color along the body, darkest at the base of the tail and nose as in Siamese cats), and downunder or downunders (an Australian variety which has a solid color stripe on the belly or a color marking there that corresponds to markings on top).[27]

As you will have noticed in pet shops and online adverts, rats are not only colourful but have a variety of patterns and markings. Many of these mix with the colours listed, although some cannot be shown. Markings give the rats their character, with every owner finding their own particular favourite. The markings come from different breeders and countries, and as a result have some strange names:

Further dividing the varieties of fancy rats are the many different markings. Pet rats can appear in any combination of colors and markings. The markings are typically in reference to the patterns and ratios of colored hair versus white hair. Two extremes would be a self (completely solid, non-white color) and a Himalayan (completely white except blending into colored areas at the nose and feet, called points, as in a Himalayan cat's markings).[25]

Fancy rats have been specifically bred to be a variety of different colours, with many different markings. This is the unique difference between the breeds.

One of most attractive things about Fancy rats is the many colours and markings they can have. Some are extremely rare and beautiful, with shades that cover a rainbow of colours. Examples of these colours can be found on the National Fancy Rat Society and American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association.

Males are larger and plumper than females, with full-grown males males being approximately 20-25cm from nose to the base of the tail and females being 16-18cm in length. The head is pointed and the tail is hairless.

There is some evidence that spayed female rats ("does") are less likely to develop mammary and pituitary tumors than non-spayed females.[42] Research into prevention of common diseases and health issues in rats is on-going. Dietary changes are among the main suggestions for improved health and longevity in fancy rats, such suggestions included are feeding rat-friendly superfoods [43] in moderation to reduce the risk of cancers, heart disease and stroke.

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While some pet rats retain the agouti coloring of the wild brown rat (three tones on the same hair), others have solid colors (a single color on each hair), a trait derived from rats with black coats. Agouti-based colors include agouti, cinnamon, and fawn. Black-based colors include black, beige, and chocolate.[21]

Information on why rats are a popular pet and the type of owner a rat would suit.