Rats and Their Types, Colors, and Patterns

Updated on March 4, 2016
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Rats are wonderful pets who make a great addition to almost any household. Intelligent and fun, I've often described rats as the dogs of the rodent world. You can train them, cuddle them, and play with them just like a dog, but they come in a small package!

Though your first choice of rat should be based on health and temperament, maybe you would like to get a certain type or color of rat, or maybe you already chose your rat and are interested to know what his unique coloring is.

There are many types of rats, and many more colors of rats—far more colors than I can really cover here, so I will stick to some of the basics.

Each type will be marked dominant or recessive. If the gene is dominant, it only needs one copy of the gene to show. If it is recessive, it needs two copies of that gene to show.

So, for example, agouti is dominant and black is recessive, so a black rat must get a black gene from each parent, but an agouti rat needs to receive an agouti gene from only one parent.

A black dumbo rat
A black dumbo rat

Rat Body Types

Type
Recessive or Dominant
Description
Standard
Dominant
Normal, wild-type rat ears
Dumbo
Recessive
Ears are larger, rounder, and set lower on the side of the head
Manx
Recessive
Tailless, smaller, and slimmer
Dwarf
Recessive
1/3 size of regular rats

Bodies

Standard

Dominant trait — A standard eared rat has just the normal, wild-type rat ears. They are normal sized and set on top of the head.

Dumbo

Recessive trait — A dumbo rat has ears that are larger, rounder, and set lower to the side on the head. They have a rather sweet appearance, and it has been said that dumbo rats tend to be friendlier than standard eared rats.

This might have been true when the dumbos were first being bred as pretty much all dumbos were being bred specifically as pet rats, however now I don't find that this is still the case as both are easily found bred to be pets, and dumbos can even be found as feeders.

Manx

Recessive trait — A Manx rat, much like a Manx cat, is tailless though some have partial or stub tails. They tend to be smaller and slimmer than their regular rat counterparts. As tails are important for balance and temperature regulation in rats, Manx rats may need some extra special care.

Dwarf

Recessive trait — As their name suggests, dwarf rats are smaller than regular rats, usually around 1/3 the size.

A rex rat--note the wavy hair and curly whiskers.
A rex rat--note the wavy hair and curly whiskers.

Types of Coats in Rats

Type
Dominant or Recessive
Description
Standard
Dominant
Normal coat, straight hair
Rex
Dominant
Curly hair
Double Rex
Double dominant
Curly whiskers, patchy hair
Hairless
Recessive
No hair

Coats

Standard

Dominant trait — Normal, straight coat of most rats. In males, this coat tends to be a bit coarse and thick, while in females it is softer and finer.

Rex

Dominant trait — Rex rats have curly hair and whiskers which is curlier as babies. Females tend to lose most of their curl as they grow older, but males tend to keep more of it. A so-called “bad rex” may simply look messy all the time, but you can tell by curly or straight whiskers whether they are truly a rex rat.

Double Rex

Double dominant trait — A double rex rat has two copies of the rex gene, which make the hair so curly that it breaks and falls off before growing very long. These rats are also sometimes called patchwork rats because their hair grows in patches on the body, which change every week as hair grows and breaks in different places. They also have curly whiskers.

Hairless

Recessive trait — Hairless rats grow no hair at all and are entirely naked. They tend to need more food and protein because they have a higher metabolism to keep warm. Even so, special care should be taken to keep hairless rats out of drafts, cold rooms, and away from objects that may scratch their unprotected skin.

An agouti hooded rat.
An agouti hooded rat.

Base Coat Color

Base
Dominant vs. Recessive
Description
Agouti
Dominant
Brown, the color of wild rats
Black
Recessive
Solid black

Bases

  • Agouti

Dominant trait — This is the color of wild rats. They are brown with banded individual hairs, which gives them an appearance of many colors all mixed up in their coat. They have a lighter, almost creamy underbelly. The color can rust with age to brown and yellowish tones.

  • Black (AKA non-agouti)

Recessive trait — Their color is solid black. As babies they tend to be very dark and clean, however as they grow older most rats “rust” which gives them brown spots or makes them look brownish all over.

Possibly a beige rat (black + red eyed dilute) with a bareback pattern
Possibly a beige rat (black + red eyed dilute) with a bareback pattern | Source

How Modifiers Affect Base Coat Color

Color Modifier
Recessive vs. Dominant
Effect on Agouti
Effect on Black
Red-Eyed Dilute
Recessive
Red eyes, turns coat fawn
Red eyes, turns coat tan
Pink-Eyed Dilute
Recessive
Pink eyes, amber coat
Pink eyes, creamy beige coat
Albino
Recessive
All white with pink eyes
All white with pink eyes
Blue
Recessive
Silver/gray/blue coat, silver belly, hairs are tan at tip
All blue coat
Mink
Recessive
Reddish brown, cinnamon coat
Grayish to chocolate-colored coat
Pearl
Dominant
(only shows on mink/cinnamon rats), gold color with silver mixed in
(only shows on mink rats), called pearl, looks gray and creamy

Color Modifiers

  • Red Eyed Dilute

Recessive trait — This dilute does not just change the eye color of the rat, it also dilutes the coat color. An agouti rat becomes fawn, a beautiful light color that is almost orange-ish with a lighter belly.

It still shows much of the agouti banding on each individual hair but it is very mild. A black rat becomes beige, a light tan all over the body.

  • Pink Eyed Dilute

Recessive trait — This dilute changes the eyes to pink and dilutes the coat ever more than the red eyed dilute. An agouti rat becomes amber, a light orange with an even spread of light hairs. A black rat becomes a warm, creamy beige called champagne.

  • Albino

Recessive trait — An albino rat is all white with pink eyes which can occur on agouti or black. A rat may look like an albino but actually be a pink eyed white (PEW), who simply has so many dilutions it looks like an albino.

  • Blue

Recessive trait — There is both Russian blue and slate blue, but for the purposes of this article we will combine them into one. Blue rats are cast bluish silver, some very light and others dark depending on which blue and other dilutes the rat might have.

A blue agouti is silver/gray/blue, ticked with blue guard hairs, and with a silver belly. Individual hairs are blue at the base and yellow/tan at the tip. A black-based rat with the blue gene will be a uniform blue across the whole hair, giving a very smooth and even appearance to the blue rat.

This rat looks to be cinnamon--an agouti rat with the recessive mink gene. The eyes appear to be black, so it cannot be fawn or amber.
This rat looks to be cinnamon--an agouti rat with the recessive mink gene. The eyes appear to be black, so it cannot be fawn or amber.
  • Mink

Recessive trait — Mink dilutes the coat color and makes it more brown. A mink agouti (called cinnamon) is lighter than mink, reddish brown in color with banded hairs, and brown hairs ticked through the coat.

A black-based mink rat is simply called mink, and it lightens the black to an even brown color varying from grayish to chocolate.

  • Pearl

Dominant trait — Pearl is yet another dilute, but it only shows on mink rats. It lightens the individual hairs and also intersperses the coat with cream colored hairs, and tends to blue or gray cast.

A cinnamon rat (agouti plus mink) with pearl is called cinnamon pearl, and it has hair banded cream, blue, and orange with silver guard hairs, giving it a golden color mixed with silver. A mink rat (black with mink) with pearl is simply called pearl, and it looks gray and creamy.

Shading and Patterns

Shading

  • Merle

Dominant trait — We'll start with merle since we just covered pearl and merle only expresses on mink-based rats such as pearl. Merle in rats is very similar to merle in dogs, spreading a pattern of colored spots and splotches over the rat's body to create a unique and handsome picture.

It is most distinct on young rats, fading as they get older. I had a pearl merle rat who was very obviously spotted as a young rat, and while his spots did lessen as he grew older he did keep several large, subtle spots.

Even though this gene is dominant so you only need one copy for a merle rat, it is believed that two copies of this gene result in a baby rat that dies in the womb and is reabsorbed long before the birth of its siblings.

Can you guess whether this rat is black or agouti based? Click the image for a larger size if you need more detail!
Can you guess whether this rat is black or agouti based? Click the image for a larger size if you need more detail! | Source

Patterns and Their Description

Patterns
Description
Self
Completely solid
Berkshire
Solid-colored with a colored top, but white feet, belly, and tail-tip
Blazed
Blaze on the face between eyes to the nose
Capped
A rat with color on its head, leaving the rest of the body clean and white
Hooded
A rat with color over its head, neck, shoulders, and down the back in a stripe to the tail
Irish
A solid-colored rat with white paws, and a spot on either the chest or belly
Masked
A white rat with a rectangle or oval of color over the eyes
Roan/Husky
Born solid but color fades over time
  • Self

A self rat is completely solid, though some may have white feet. The belly might seem lighter since it doesn't have any guard hairs, but it won't actually have any white hairs.

  • Berkshire

A solid-colored with a colored top, but white feet, belly, and tail-tip. The belly is supposed to be evenly colored, but usually it looks splotchy. A downunder berkshire has a stripe down the belly.

  • Blazed

A colored rat in any face-coloring pattern that has a wedge shaped blaze from between the eyes to the nose.

  • Capped

A rat with color on its head, leaving the rest of the body clean and white. The color generally covers the entire face and extends to the back of the skull, and it should stop before reaching the neck in a show animal but many pet animals have more color.

  • Hooded

A rat with color over its head, neck, shoulders, and down the back in a stripe to the tail. It often extends onto the tail as well. Often you'll see them with imperfect stripes and belly splotches too.

A bareback is similar to the hooded but without the stripe down the back, and a downunder hooded has a stripe down the belly.

  • Irish

A solid-colored rat with white paws, and a spot on either the chest or belly.

A very striking blazed husky rat. This husky rat is young so it has not yet lost its blaze, but the next picture in this hubt is probably the same rat at a later age!
A very striking blazed husky rat. This husky rat is young so it has not yet lost its blaze, but the next picture in this hubt is probably the same rat at a later age!
  • Masked

A white rat with a rectangle or oval of color over the eyes

  • Roan/Husky

These rats are born solid, but as they grow older they silver and fade, often until they are completely white. While fading, the pattern often resembles the markings of a husky dog, creating a striking rat.

A beautiful husky rat! Isn't it striking?
A beautiful husky rat! Isn't it striking?

More Information

This is a cute site from Australia with more pictures of rats and information on markings and colors.

This site has brief descriptions of rat coat, body, color, and marking types as well as photos of each.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Alexis 4 weeks ago

      I've got a pink eye, dumbo ear, double Rex, Himalayan female rat, what would I breed her with to get a chance of more Rex/double Rex? Or for more chance of dumbo ear? Or even for more of a chance at having Himalayan babies?

    • profile image

      Miss Cellany 6 weeks ago

      I've seen a photo of a black and tan rat (similar to the pattern on a doberman or rottweiler) I really want a rat this colour... Does anyone know what that pattern / coat colour is called in rats?

    • profile image

      Honey bea seastrand 6 weeks ago

      I've had my rat for some time now and I've been wanting to find out what kind of rat she is so thanks

    • profile image

      Little pup 2 months ago

      Wow this link will really help me when I'm getting a pet rat for Christmas.

      So so so want a white rat.

      So cute.

    • profile image

      sam 3 months ago

      great!!!

    • profile image

      littlerattiesauntie 4 months ago

      Excellent information! I've never seen it all quite so concise and comprehensive! I hope you won't mind if I refer people to your site! ;-)

    • profile image

      Jennifer 5 months ago

      Thank you .Great job very helpful .

      Can anyone tell me of a great breeder in Ontario Canada that has had there rats tested and cleared?

    • profile image

      Felicity 7 months ago

      idk why some people are afraid of rats they are sweet & lovable animals I miss my little female rat she was my baby

    • profile image

      ectothermalia 7 months ago

      You have left out quite a few things so maybe it's time for a rewrite of this? Some coat types not listed above are Satin and Bristle. Some coat colours not listed are Platinum, Champagne, Beige, and Chocolate. I also forget if you mentioned Odd-eyed or not... Anyway! Some patterns not listed are Lightening Blazed, Spotted, Siamese/Himalayan, Dalmatian, Down Under, Bareback and Essex.

    • profile image

      amanda 8 months ago

      I have a tri color standard and I have 5 possible albinos In the litter 4 females and one male the father was a chocolate standard she had a total of 12 pups they were born april 9th

    • profile image

      MusEquus 9 months ago

      I didn't realize domestic rats' colouration could be so varied until I found my pet Iloni a while back who was blazed, after this article, I now know that rats are nearly as complex as horses.

    • profile image

      TheFancyRatVet 10 months ago

      Thanks for the info, Mindbglin!

    • profile image

      Mindbglin 10 months ago

      Rat vet! It sounds like you have an agouti hooded, and Some pet! It means that both parents were double recessive for albino and black, or a double het as It were. Het being short heterozygous, meaning non visual trates, and homozygous is the visual, hence the albino and black.

    • profile image

      TheFancyRatVet 10 months ago

      Interesting! Apparently, my 4-month-old rat Scabbers (who's sitting on my lap right now, BTW) is a hooded rat. But he has a tiny bit of light brown mixed with grey hood & stripe. What would you call that?

    • profile image

      Shana 12 months ago

      Informative! I'm actually in NEED of a Jumbo rat bestie. I have been searching for month's without any luck. Any help would be appreciated! Preferably within an hour drive.. Located in Kalamazoo, Michigan

    • profile image

      August 13 months ago

      Thank you! I have a (standard) Red Eye Dilute. I've never payed much attention to the eyes. But the coat is fawn. Thanks! (Ah, they're an Agouti)

    • profile image

      Owner of some rats 14 months ago

      Hmmm...

      I bred an agouti female with a black capped male, I ended up with 2 albino males and 1 black female. Does this mean that the mother (the agouti) had a parent that was black and a parent that was agouti?

    • profile image

      tinkerspell 14 months ago

      I have been raising rats for a while now and the way to sex them as babies is the females will have nipples while the males do not. Also the male organ will protrude a little more, this is not always easy to do as some have too much hair to tell and others are just too wiggly to let you check but usually within 2 weeks the males scrotum will start to drop and show.

    • profile image

      Tanya 15 months ago

      Susan this article was posted like 8 years ago so this guy isn't answering anymore. Look at your rat...... if it's a male you will see it's balls. Male rats have huge balls and this is just plain n simple.

    • profile image

      susan beiting 16 months ago

      My grandson found a rat outside about 3 months ago. White body with a few light gray spots, and a gray head. He/she was obviously a domesticated rat that somehow got lose or was set free. He ran right up to him and made friends. We all love our little rattie-rat now. Very healthy, playful and loving. I am so sad to find out they have a short life. I do not know if it is male or female, therefore we call it shim (she/him) when referring to its sex. I think it is a Berkshire from what I read on this site. Anybody know how to tell the sex?

    • profile image

      kathleen 18 months ago

      rust colored rat with white on belly found outside trying to figure out if it was someones pet and got away or a bad outdoors rat how can I tell. gave him some water and millet

    • profile image

      izzy14 20 months ago

      i have 2 feamale hooded ratties love of my life they are so spoiled

    • profile image

      Dave March 20 months ago

      Unable to identify my rat that I photographed steeling from my bird feeder.

      I know rats having had them in a house I once live in and saw many rats on the ships I served on in the Royal Navy. This one has the typical rat shape ears and long thin tail. But it has a white underbelly and its top colour is the same as a weasel. Can you help identify this animal?

    • profile image

      Emmanuel 2 years ago

      I have 5 babes of dwarf rat and 3 males and 2 female dwarf rats, how can rear these rats.

    • profile image

      Marko 2 years ago

      I have a new dog and he is a rat killer.I am soooooo happy!

    • profile image

      awa 2 years ago

      Hey, you dont have any siamese or himilayans on here!! :) I have a male siamese dumbo and a semi-hairless dumbo rat and would love a section on the siamese :)

    • profile image

      Talareda Rashda 3 years ago

      hi every body do you guys now how much do a rat weigh?

    • profile image

      Emily 3 years ago

      This was very detailed and helpful. Apart from that, some of the rat pics were really cute!

    • profile image

      peter griffen 3 years ago

      peter griffen rat!

    • profile image

      amber 3 years ago

      what kind of rat is a rat with red eyes and is wite?

    • profile image

      Peto 3 years ago

      Well written and informative, thanks.

    • profile image

      karaminsa 4 years ago

      this has helped lots thanks to HUBPAGES!!!!

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      I have cared for rodents but not yet with rats. Thanks for this very informative hub.

    • profile image

      ram 4 years ago

      black only expresses when a rat good

    • profile image

      Allyembley 4 years ago

      hi i have a rat he is about a meter long (with tail) black and white splodges everywhere on him also on his tail. is mom is about 1 1/2 meters long (white) father 1 1/2 meters (brown). Pelet (his name) loves to eat watsits!

      What type of rat do i have?

      p.s. i bought him in china.

    • profile image

      jade 4 years ago

      i have a siamese with red eyes, japanese hooded rat (lovely dak grey and white), champagne girl with red eyes and a husky dumbo girl with ruby eyes. love my babies so much :D

    • profile image

      bethany 4 years ago

      thanks you have helped me find out more about pet rats i have two my self both brothers however they fight a lot dose anyone know why this is .

    • profile image

      Bre 4 years ago

      I have a Siamese with pure red eyes :) I think you forgot Siamese/Himalayans in this

    • profile image

      Lilia 4 years ago

      I don't like rats I'm just searching this for a project:/

    • profile image

      Dennis 5 years ago

      You've forgotten the golden himalayas rat

    • profile image

      rosie 5 years ago

      Hi i possibaly think i have a rare rat, a siamese rat with pure red eyes,is this rare do you think

    • profile image

      Rat Lova 5 years ago

      I have 2 female ratties... the LOVES of my life... besides my human children! lol! Anyway, I think I get it, but what does Agouti mean??

      Thanks! =0)

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      Author

      vullnoid 5 years ago

      David: I would assume that the "tan" rat you bred your black rat to was an agouti with either the red or pink eyed dilute gene. We'll assume the father was pure black, and the mother was fawn (agouti + red eyed dilute). That would make their genetics this:

      Father:

      a/a R/-

      Mother:

      A/- r/r

      These are the only ones we can assume based on the phenotype of the parents. However, based on the coloring of the babies, we can further assume:

      Father:

      a/a R/R

      Mother:

      A/A r/r

      Babies (all):

      A/a R/r

      Since black only expresses when a rat is a/a, and red eyed dilute only expresses when a rat is r/r, all the babies would be plain agouti rats. However, if bred to the right rat, the babies would have the potential to produce black, agouti, black + red eyed, or agouti + red eyed.

    • profile image

      Gromit 5 years ago

      I have been looking online everywhere to find what characteristics are recessive or dominant in rats, and this helped a lot. Thank u! If u or anyone knows more on what other traits are and if they are a dominant or recessive one, I would appreciate it

    • profile image

      David Hubbard 6 years ago

      I'm no geneticist, but as a teenager I had pet rats and bred them while reading a book by B.F. Skinner (I believe that's the name). Anyways, I'd always wanted agouti rats but had never actually seen any. The usual "hooded" variety was most abundant, as were albinos and occasional black rats. I raised a black rat (white belly patch) whose father was albino and mother colored like him. I bred it with a tan ruby-eyed female. Imagine my astonishment at getting a litter of pure agouti rats! To be sure, the same two bred again with the same result. No white patches on these agouti rats, their bellies were a smooth faded gray. I couldn't quite figure out how all these dominant genes snuck through all of the parental recessive features.

    • JasonPLittleton profile image

      JasonPLittleton 6 years ago

      Very nice pet.

    • Eternal Evolution profile image

      Eternal Evolution 6 years ago from kentucky

      Didn't know there were dwarf rats, that's a new one on me. Great hub!

    • profile image
      Author

      vullnoid 6 years ago

      Thanks everyone! I'm really glad this hub helped. :)

      K: Thank you for the input, but I have checked some sources again and do believe I am correct. Agouti (wild type) is A/- genotype, black is a/a genotype. My sources agree, and it also makes sense as this is how it generally seems to works in genetics. Horses are the same. The wild type, also called agouti, is A/-, and black is a/a.

      If you've ever bred rats and noticed that breeding black to agouti you got a lot of black rats, then the agouti rats you are using are A/a. A/a bred to a/a would result in half black and half agouti. An A/A agouti rat, however, would never have black kittens.

    • profile image

      6 years ago

      A nice read, but I disagree with the color black being "recessive". Was always dominant in my other readings and experiences.

    • ttrash profile image

      ttrash 6 years ago from Australia

      Great hub, very detailed! I've figured out through this hub that I've got a black/red eye dilute/hooded rat and a black/pink eye dilute rat. Thanks :)

    • profile image

      hellonico 6 years ago

      I am impressed by this hub. I am quite surprised not more people have read this.

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