Rats have become a popular pet. They are excellent little creatures for both children and adults. Pet rats, often called fancy rats, are intelligent, clean, friendly, and trainable. Their popularity as pets has lead to the development of many coat colors and types. Like any other domestic pets, most coat and body features have been developed, while some appear at random.
Rats can be defined by many factors; one individual rat may be defined by one or more factors. These factors include color, coat type, markings, and body type. Some rats may be specifically defined by many factors. New varieties are still in development, but some of the standardized factors and varieties can be found below.
Fur Color Varieties
Fancy rats can be found in a wide and varying array of colors. Most commonly, their fur is a solid color or it might have hooded markings. Some fancy rats will retain the wild brown agouti color, 3 tones on a single hair; others have black-based hair, one color on one hair. Some common agouti shades include agouti, cinnamon, and fawn. Black-based shades include black, beige, and chocolate.
- Mink: Soft grey
- Black: Jet black
- Pink-Eyed White: Solid white with pink eyes, commonly mistaken as an albino.
- Champagne: Soft cream or off-white
- Dove: Very pale grey
- Blue: Soft pale blue
- Powder Blue: Pale blue/brown
- Agouti: Mixture of brown, black, and red.
- Cinnamon: Agouti with more red flecked throughout coat.
- Blue Agouti: Agouti hairs with blue shades
- Argente: Tan or orange agouti with a grey undercoat.
- Fawn: Orange agouti with a cream undercoat
- Silvered: Any of the colors above with silver tipping on the hair.
Eye color is another factor that defines a rat’s variety. Eyes can be black, pink/red, ruby, or odd-eyed. Ruby eyes refer to eyes that normally show a black color but show a red color under bright light. Odd-eyed rats have one eye that is one color while the other is another. Often, certain eye colors will accompany particular coat colors.
Another factor in determining a rat’s variety is its markings. Fancy rats can be found with many markings and color combinations. Often, the markings refer to patterns and ratios of colored hair to white hair. Two of the extreme markings would be self rats, having one solid color that is not white and Himalayan, being white with gradual blending towards the nose and feet. This coloring is called points just as with the Himalayan and Siamese cats. Show quality rats will be bread to strict marking standards. Many of the rats sold at pet shops will not be bred to such standards and many will have imperfect markings.
- Self: As mentioned above, self-rats are a solid color other than white.
- Hooded: These rats are white and have colored hair on the head and shoulders with a stripe down the spine.
- Caped or Bareback: Like hooded rats but without the stripe down the back.
- Variegated: Again like hooded rats except with spots down the back instead of a stripe.
- Dalmatian: Once again like hooded rats but with spotting over most the body.
- Berkshire: Colored on top with a white belly.
- Irish or English Irish: Solid color with a white triangle on the chest.
- Blazed: White stripe running between the eyes and down the nose.
- Downunder (DU): Have a strip that runs along their belly or underside.
- DU Berkshire: Like hooded rats but with a strip running down the belly as well as down the back.
- DU Spotted: Have spots rather than stripes down the back and belly.
- Himalayan and Siamese: Himalayan has a white base coat with gradual blending towards the nose and feet. Siamese has a beige base.
Despite the large range of color and marking variations, the number of coat types is relatively small.
- Normal or Standard: Most common straight hair coat type. Differences between genders are allowed with males typically having a course, rough, thick coat while females tend to have softer, finer coats.
- Rex or Rexed: All the hair is curly, this includes the whiskers.
- Satin or Silky: Have extra long soft, silky guard hairs.
- Velveteen: Softer versions of Rex and satin/silky coats.
- Harley: Long straight hairs.
Hairless Rats and Body Types
Hairless rats are a coat type defined by having little to no hair. Some may have no hair while others may have very short patches of hair on the body. This coat type is derived from the Rex coats. The Rex coat is a dominant trait so it only takes one Rex parent to affect the offspring’s appearance. However when 2 Rexes are bred together something odd happens; hairlessness. Hairless rats are also known as Double-Rexes. Even hairless rats will still display markings on the skin; you could have a hairless hooded rat. Hairless varieties are created by combining different genes that produce the Rex coat. One such hairless variety is known as a patchwork rat. These rats will lose and regrow hair in different patches on their body throughout their lifetime.
Rats tend to be pear-shaped, but two of the most prominent features are the ears and tail. Through selective breeding, two body types have developed, the Manx and Dumbo rat. Manx rats, like manx cats, have no tail. Dumbo rats have large round ears that set low on the sides of the head instead of on top like most rats’ ears.
- Fancy Pet Rats - Explore the Many Varieties
Looking for details on the great variety of fancy pet rats? Do rat breeds matter when choosing your next pal? How many types of rats are there? Get the scoop on fancy rats!
- Varieties of Fancy Rats
- Fancy rat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Rat species, strains, breeds and types
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
ari on July 28, 2020:
i have one Berkshire (black with white belly and side) her name is Bumble, one Irish (black with smol white on chest) named Fairy, and another Berkshire (grey with white and smol white mark on forehead) named Clover. they are my babiessss
Brook on May 18, 2020:
I was Confused at what kind of rat was my rat Minnie and now i have come to find that she is a Dalmatian! Cool.
emiology on February 23, 2020:
they had mice I honesty do not trust this article if their getting photos that are not even related to the subject which means poor research don't trust this guys
Megan on February 15, 2020:
I have a rat names Willow and I can’t quite tell what color she is the kind tan but with a hint of blue and grey
Ant on April 02, 2019:
One of the pictures was of mice...
Du on February 03, 2019:
I am going to point out some flaws in this article.
The rat in the picture labeled "capped" is a bareback rat. Bareback and capped are not the same thing.
The picture labeled champagne rats are not rats. They're mice.
The "Dalmatian" rat is actually a variegated hooded rat.
Silk, Silky, and Satin are all different coat types.Silk and Silky both originated in Australia, while Satin originated in California.
It should also be noted that Powder Blue is just a name given to Blue rats that are very light in color. The two are caused by the same allele.
Corinna on October 21, 2018:
Just wondering.. what color would the one in the picture satin/silk coat be considered.. I really like the brown color of this rat..
addison on April 24, 2018:
thanks for putting this it shows me I really shouldn't look on the outside I need to look at the inside
Larry on October 29, 2017:
Thanks for the great info and putting it in a format most everybody can understand. Great job. I've been smitten with these guys for quite a few years now and as far as pets go...on par with any cat or dog.
Olivia on April 16, 2017:
This is so interestng, I've been looking for an article like this and all of them only show two types. This is actually very helpful, thank you so much!!
Anonymous on March 01, 2017:
Oh my goodness, these rats are all so adorable, I just can't decide! I am going to be getting two male rats in the next few months, and I want to know which are the best to get. I am already researching cute names, and I want to name them Chico and Jasper. I feel like I want cuddly, dual-colored rats with fluffy coats so I can cuddle with them as I please. :D But the original reason I wanted to get a rat is so I could teach it to play basketball X)
Also I would like to note that this page is very well put together and has given me a much better idea of what I would like in a pet rat. Thank you so much!
Omg on October 18, 2016:
We seen a rat the other day that freakEd my husband and I out. About 12 inch body not including the tail. Blonde in color short hair . It's legs back legs were longer than usual? What kind of rat is this? Creapy?
josalynn on June 01, 2016:
I have to white with black spots with black eyes.They had one champaign with a whitr stripe down its head and nose and pink eyes.Then had 2 white w pink eyes and one white n black.Ive never seen one like the champaign rat.
iuhj on August 30, 2015:
Just wanted to let you know that those champagne rats are actually mice. :)
Yvonne L. B. from South Louisiana on July 05, 2011:
I used to have pet mice in my school library for the kids to observe. They went along well with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.
Nice hub that's useful.
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 04, 2011:
This is a very interesting hub! Thanks for all the information and the photos - I didn't realize that pet rats could have such a wide variety of appearances.