Animals / Rodents

The Sphinx Rat

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Order: rodentia

Family: muridae

Subfamily: murinae

Genus: rattus

Species: hairless


Hairless or nude rat (sphinx) is a bare breed of rats that appeared as a result of selected breeding. 

Внешний вид

These rats can be completely bare or else they have very short hair on the head, on the belly and on the legs. The skin has to be clean and pink, without spots and scars. Hairless rats lack whiskers or have ones which are slightly curved. The eyes are bright and shining. The ears are a bit bigger that the common rat’s ones. The hairless rats grow to 10-25 cm (depending on the kind). Males normally weigh 450-700 g, females weigh 350-500 g. 


Sphinxes are as agile, sociable and curious as any other rats. Since they don’t have a coat, they are more tame and they like being handled.

Содержание и уход

Sphinxes require extra care. The best season for them is summer. But in colder times you will have to control the temperature in the cage carefully. In general experts say that it is best to keep a hairless rat in a couples or in a group (they are sociable animals and they feel warmer this way). Be careful with the location of the cage, beware of draughts. In order for your rat to feel comfortable in your home, the ambient temperature has to be between 17 and 30 degrees above zero. In summer you should keep your rat away from the heat and never put the cage under the direct sunlight, since its skin is vulnerable for UV lights and it can get sunburned. The air in the cage has to be neither too dry nor too humid. The cage has to be large and spacious and be located far from sharp objects and draughts. In order for your sphinx to feel comfortable, you can put some paper towel on the bottom of the cage.

The sphinx is a neater and fussier animal than an ordinary rat, so you will have to clean the cage more often. When cleaning, you will have to take away all the garbage from the cage and to disinfect all the surfaces. It is the best prevention against most diseases of fancy rats. After cleaning you will have to dry and ventilate the cage well before you let the rat in.  The sphinx has very sharp claws and the rodent can injure itself. In order to prevent injuries you will have to cut its claws regularly with the help of nail scissors.

You should pay extra attention to taking care of the rat’s skin: you should wipe it with damped paper towel when the skin has accumulated brown discharge. The sphinx has to be bathed 2-3 times a year, as well as a common rat. Bathing only takes a few minutes. You will need to fill the basin with warm water (30-35 degrees), 5-10 cm deep. Then you hold the rat with one hand and put it in the water so that its head always stays above the surface.  With your other hand you soap the rat with a little shampoo. You should hold the rat tight so that it doesn’t fall into the water. Clean its tail carefully with an old soft toothbrush. Then rinse all the soap in warm running water. Wipe the rat carefully with the towel and put it in the clean cage. You can heat the cage with the lamp until the rat gets completely dry.

Next day after bath you can find dry spots on your rat’s skin. It will pass in a few days once the skin has developed enough fat. But you can smear the skin of your rat with hand lotion or olive oil. 


Due to boosted heat exchange, you should feed sphinxes more often and with smaller portions than a common fancy rat. Regarding the menu and prohibited food, you can apply the same rules as for feeding common rats.

The main rules for feeding rats are:

The food should contain as little fat as possible; it is not recommended to feed the rat with animal protein; if you want to give some meat to your rat, it has to be boiled lean meat.

Rats can eat poultry and fish, but in moderate amounts. Fancy rats love chicken bones, you can treat your pet to it – it will help the rodent to grind its teeth.

Also you will have to buy special food for your rat; it consists of wheat, oats, millet, barley and corn. But you shouldn’t feed the rat only with cereals. It needs treats from time to time. And don’t forget the vitamins, fancy rats need them.  

Despite the fact that fancy rats are omnivore, there are certain foods you should never give to your rats. They are raw artichokes, chocolate, raw beans, licorice,  green bananas, alcohol, sparkling drinks, rhubarb, soy food, raw potatoes, spinach, raw cabbage, potato sprouts.

You should be careful with beetroot, cucumbers, almond, radish and turnip: if you see that the rat gets diarrhea after eating them, you have to eliminate them from your pet’s menu.

All rats love such things as sausage, pumpkin and sunflower seeds (no more than 15 per week), hard kinds of cheese (not more than 2-3 times a week), sour cream (one a week), ham, eggs (once a week).  But all of them are not very good for their health so their use should be very limited.

Food that works as antibiotics for rats are bananas, eggplants, raspberries, garlic, onion, plums, mustard. If your rat becomes ill, you can give it something from this list.

There always has to be fresh clean water in the rat’s cage. 


Hairless rats need to stay warm, much more so than their coated relatives. You have to remember that all rats are vulnerable to draughts. Compared to common rats, hairless rats are more prone to diseases and more fragile. They get allergic reactions much more often. 


The most vulnerable organs of the sphinx are its eyes. Hairless rats often get allergic reactions. In order for your rat to stay healthy, you will have to control its menu carefully and use cellulose litter (toilet paper or compacted wood cuttings, except for coniferous ones). The most common diseases among sphinxes are liver and heart diseases, skin and eye illnesses, diabetes, respiratory infections, anemia, urine bladder infections, tumors. 

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