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Wonderful Pets With a Colorful History: Fancy Rats

History of Fancy Rats

The history of fancy rats actually dates back to 18th and 19th century Europe. Rat catchers would trap rats, which would be killed or sold to be part of a sport called "Rat-Baiting". In Rat-baiting, people would make bets on how long it would take a terrier to kill all of the rats in a pit.

However, over time, the rat catchers and some of the participants in the Rat-baiting began to keep one or two of the rats, most commonly for their unique color or behavior. These rats were eventually bred and sold as pets. The term "Fancy" when describing a certain type of rat is in reference to "Rat Fancy", which is what the act of keeping rats as pets was referred to in historical times.

Appearance of Fancy Rats

Fancy rats can be a variety of colors, ranging from white, black, grey and even blue. They have long, pointed heads that are set with two orb-like eyes. The color of a fancy rat's eyes can differ as well, most commonly being black, brown or red. The ears of a fancy rat are small, cup-like and erect, usually being pink in color. A fancy rat's body is elongated, with a hairless pink tail extending from the rat's posterior region.

Behavior of Fancy Rats

Though many people may think of rats as not being suitable pets, they actually have a very affectionate demeanor. If a fancy rat is socialized with humans at a young age, it can prove to be a very loyal companion. Fancy rats will bond with humans, as long as they are exposed to constant interaction.

Varieties of Fancy Rats

Due to selective breeding, there are currently many different varieties of fancy rats. These varieties range from differences in coat texture, color markings, and body type. Here are some of the most common varieties of Fancy Rats.


Rats that are classified as having "Agouti" coloring have three different color tones on each single strand of their hair. This color tone variation is native to wild rats, and is still present in certain fancy rats.

Berkshire Fancy Rat

A Berkshire fancy rat will have unique markings that make it different from other rats. In reference to the Berkshire classification, a rat will have the entire top of its body composed of colored fur, while its belly and lower area are entirely white.

Capped Fancy Rat

A Capped Fancy Rat will have a single color on its head region, while the rest of its body is white.

Hooded Rat

A Hooded Rat is different from a Capped Fancy Rat in that its color covers the entirety of its head, while running down in a pattern down a rat's spine.

Where to Buy Fancy Rats

Fancy rats are commonly sold at most pet stores, usually for less than $10 USD. Fancy rats are generally popular among pet owners, due to their agreeable temperament and strong bonding to humans. Caring for a fancy rat is relatively simple, as fancy rats only require food, water, and constant interaction. Playing with a Fancy Rat on a regular basis is very important, since it will help enhance their bonding experience with humans.

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