How to Care for a Hairless Rat

Hairless rats are unique looking creatures that many people find unattractive. There are many enthusiasts, however, who adore them. Like all rats, they are full of personality and quite intelligent but do have certain special needs due to their lack of hair. Rats are very social, therefore it is best to house a pair together. Hairless rats can be paired with other hairless or with a furred rat but pairs should be the same sex to prevent constant breeding.

Housing Needs

Rats need a lot of room. Avoid using a cage that is too small. A minimum cage size of 2 feet wide and 2 feet deep should be used for a pair of rats. A wire cage with a solid bottom is the best choice to allow plenty of air flow. Use solid metal wire cages rather than a plastic cage that a rat could chew through.

Use shredded or pelleted paper or aspen shavings as bedding in the bottom of the cage. Use a 2-inch layer of bedding. Do not use pine or cedar, as the oils will cause respiratory illness in rodents. Place several items that the rat can use to hide and burrow in around the cage. Acceptable items include empty toilet paper or paper towel tubes, clay flower pots, PVC pipe and small boxes. Add in small branches so your rat can climb, as long as the cage is tall enough and has a secure top.

Remove any soiled or wet bedding from the cage daily. Once a week, remove all bedding from the cage and clean the cage thoroughly with hot water and mild soap. Make sure to dry the cage completely before adding new bedding.

Feeding Needs

The majority of a rat's diet consists of rat pellets, which can be found at most pet stores or other places that sell pet food. Roughly 20 percent of the diet needs to be made up of fruits and vegetables. Rats enjoy bananas, grapes and leafy greens such as kale. Small bits of cooked sweet potatoes also may be given. Cut fruits and vegetables into small, bean-size pieces for easy handling.

Because they burn more energy in an attempt to stay warm, hairless rats require more food than furred rats. Food and fresh water needs to be available at all times. Pellets can be left out for a day or two, but fruits and vegetables need to be removed if left uneaten after 24 hours. Change water daily, and wash the water bottle before refilling.