The Fuzz Rat
Species: rattus norvegicus (Fuzz)
Rats occur all over the world except for the Antarctic. Some species are still spreading throughout the world. Presumably they originated from south-east Asia, they are most common there. Rats spread around the world due to the development of shipping traffic. Rats travelled on ships with people and reached India, the countries of the Middle East and Africa. In Russia rats can be found everywhere including Altai, Baikal regions and Prymorye. In dry regions rats prefer living close to people.
Fuzz rats appeared in the USA in 1976 as a result of selective breeding.
Fuzz rats are covered with a thin layer of very short fluff instead of fur. They have no beard hair. Sometimes big areas of body can be bald.
Fuzz rats are 200-300 mm long, tails are further 200 mm and are thicker at the base. Females weigh about 300 g, males weigh around 500 g.
Rats are very curious and sociable animals. Under proper care they are gentle and affectionate.
Hardly anyone would want to care about a common gray rat. Mostly they disgust people. But fancy rats can become great pets and affectionate friends. Under proper husbandry they don’t smell like other rodents. Rats are active animals, so they need spacious multi-level cages with different accessories for climbing (hammocks, ladders, tunnels, ropes etc.)
As a bare minimum the cage should contain a water bottle, a food bowl and a litter box. For bedding you can use wood cuttings or any litter for rodents. It would be great to have a special area for bathing in the cage, rats love water. You will have to clean the cage every day and disinfect it regularly. Once a rat is used to people, you should let it outside its cage under careful observation (rats can gnaw on furniture or other objects in your house). At times you can take your pet rat outdoors: fresh air is good for it.
It is best to feed fancy rats with specialized commercial feed that contains all necessary nutrients and minerals. You can add to it small pieces of fruit, vegetables and greens. Rats love gnawing on things, so you can give them chicken bones. Rats have to drink about 50-60 ml of water daily.
Chocolate is rats’ favorite treat, but you shouldn’t overdo it: it contains many calories and the rat can get overweight. Rats are omnivore, they eat practically everything. They prefer plant feed and add to it some insects or larvae or offal. Brown rats particularly love animal protein; they hunt smaller rodents, take nests and are even prone to cannibalism. Rats cannot stand starvation, they die after 3-4 days without food. When rats are near people, they have a lot of food. So normally it is not difficult to feed a fancy rat. Their menu should contain raw and cooked vegetables, some grain, apples, cheese, boiled eggs and white bread.
Each specimen has its own personality. Rats can be aggressive. Average life span is 17-20 months.
Fancy rats are prone to get viral, bacterial and fungal diseases that can occur due to contaminated food or water or through the contact with infected animals. Also diseases can be transmitted with the parasites’ bites.
Often fancy rats die because of kidney disorders that occur around the age of 1 year. 80% of all Fuzz rats die due to kidney diseases. Females have difficulties with nursing their litter.