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The hairless rat is simply a rat with mutated genes resulting in a bald rat with smooth, soft skin. They may have some hair around the genitals in some cases. Fancy rats and hairless rats have much of the same care requirements and temperament.
Both hairless rats and fancy rats require a bedding material in their cage to run around on, dig in and sleep on. Like all small animals, both types are prone to dangerous respiratory infections and other symptoms caused by the phenols in cedar and pine shaving; never use these materials for bedding. Wood chips such as aspen, however, are all right for furry rats, but the slightly sharp edges can easily cause tiny cuts on the hairless rat's smooth, unprotected body and they may also dry out his skin. Recycled newspaper bedding or other paper bedding is acceptable, as is a soft fleece blanket. Regardless of which bedding you use, clean it at least twice a week for furred rats and three or so times a week -- at least -- for hairless rats. Because of their suppressed immune systems, hairless rats are more susceptible to respiratory problems due to factors such as mold.
Most rats do well in a warm environment. Hairless rats, however, are more easily chilled -- even though their skin is slightly thicker -- than their furry counterparts and will do best if the temperature is kept in the low- to mid-70s. While you should always keep your pet rats out of drafty areas, placing a hairless rat in a more protected area will serve him well.
Company and Sleeping Quarters
Rats are social creatures, preferring the company of at least one other rat over being alone. Two females make ideal pairs, as do two males from the same litter. Hairless rats, because of their lack of fur, do well when housed with a furry rat. When they snuggle, the hairless rat gets to cuddle into the fur of his cage mate. Rats of both types like small boxes to sleep in, as well as hammocks or pieces of soft fabric such as an old T-shirt. If you have hairless rats, one of these items is almost necessary to help keep them warm. Hairless rats are prone to small scratches from their cage mates due to the lack of protective fur.
Both hairless rats and fancy rats make ideal companion pets and entertain their owners with their inquisitive nature, playful attitudes and willingness to hitch a ride on a shoulder. Even though they are more susceptible to illness and other problems, a hairless rat can make an ideal, friendly pet for someone willing to take the time to keep their environment clean and healthy.
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