Rat Availability

Locate the right rat for your family. Visit us in Santa Cruz, California, to pick out your new pet today.

Prices are retail and 9% sales tax will be added. Also, consider adoption, we sometimes have retired breeders and rescued animals to rehome. Rescues are half price.

Available Rats

Our Rats

About Rats & Rat Care

At Furball Critters, we have various varieties and sizes of rats available. They need a good quality block style rodent food and clean water every day. They can have treats such as fruits, nuts, vegetables, dog biscuits, and dried bread. Do not feed Iceberg lettuce or onion. Dried French bread or baguette makes a great hard chew! They like to have a cage where they can climb, a place to hide, and a place to chill such as a hammock or hanging tunnel. Some rats enjoy exercise wheels as well. Terrarium cages aren't suited for rats because they need good air circulation, rats are prone to respiratory infections. If they start to sneeze, wheeze and also might have have red mucous (porphryn) around their nose you need to find an Exotic Vet right away. If it is an upper respiratory infection you need to start antibiotics such as Baytril (Enrofloxacin) ASAP. They can get worse very quickly. Never use cedar shavings as bedding, use a bedding as free of dust and fragrance as possible such as aspen, natural Care Fresh, or fleece material. Rats live for around 2-3 years or more, so plan ahead and be sure you can care for the pet over this length of time. Be sure to have a good cage that is big enough, airy, and safe. Wire cages are preferable, and one that is taller than wide rats like because they love to climb. We sell new, used, and custom handmade cages and supplies for your pets needs. Also cage repair.

Available Rats – April 2023

From Wikipedia:

The fancy rat (Rattus norvegicus domestica) is the domesticated form of Rattus norvegicus, the brown rat, and the most common species of rat kept as a pet. The name fancy rat derives from the use of the adjective fancy for a hobby, also seen in “animal fancy”, a hobby involving the appreciation, promotion, or breeding of pet or domestic animals. The offspring of wild-caught specimens, having become docile after having been bred for many generations, fall under the fancy type.

Fancy rats were originally targets for blood sport in 18th- and 19th-century Europe. Later bred as pets, they now come in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns, and are bred and raised by several rat enthusiast groups around the world. They are sold in pet stores and by breeders. Fancy rats are generally easy to care for, and are quite affordable, even compared to other small pets; this is one of their biggest draws. Additionally, they are quite independent, affectionate, loyal and easily trained. They are considered more intelligent than other domesticated rodents. Healthy fancy rats typically live 2 to 3 years, but are capable of living a year or so longer.

Fancy rats are used widely in medical research, as their physiology is very similar to that of humans. When used in this field, they are referred to as laboratory rats (lab rats).

Domesticated rats are physiologically and psychologically different from their wild relatives, and typically pose no more of a health risk than other common pets. For example, domesticated brown rats are not considered a disease threat, although exposure to wild rat populations could introduce pathogens like the bacteria Streptobacillus moniliformis into the home. Fancy rats have different health risks from their wild counterparts, and thus are unlikely to succumb to the same illnesses as wild rats.

HISTORY

The origin of the modern fancy rat begins with the rat-catchers of the 18th and 19th centuries who trapped rats throughout Europe. These rat-catchers would then either kill the rats, or, more likely, sell the rats to be used in blood sport. Rat-baiting was a popular sport until the beginning of the 20th century. It involved filling a pit with several rats and then placing bets on how long it would take a terrier to kill them all. It is believed that both rat-catchers and sportsmen began to keep certain, odd-colored rats during the height of the sport, eventually breeding them and then selling them as pets.  The two men thought to have formed the basis of rat fancy are Jack Black, self-proclaimed rat-catcher to Queen Victoria, and Jimmy Shaw, manager of one of the largest sporting public houses in London. These two men are responsible for beginning many of the color varieties present today.  Black, specifically, was known for taming the “prettier” rats of unusual color, decorating them with ribbons, and selling them as pets.

Rats performing in a Chinese street circus troupe, as seen by Johan Nieuhof in 1655-57.
Rat fancy as a formal, organized hobby began when a woman named Mary Douglas asked for permission to bring her pet rats to an exhibition of the National Mouse Club at the Aylesbury Town Show in England on October 24, 1901. Her black-and-white hooded rat won “Best in Show” and ignited interest in the area. After Douglas’ death in 1921, rat fancy soon began to fall back out of fashion. The original hobby formally lasted from 1912 to 1929 or 1931, as part of the National Mouse and Rat Club, at which point Rat was dropped from the name, returning it to the original National Mouse Club. The hobby was revived in 1976 with the formation of the English National Fancy Rat Society (NFRS).  Pet rats are now commonly available in stores and from breeders, and there exist several rat fancier groups worldwide.

FROM AMERICAN FANCY RAT AND MOUSE ASSOCIATION:
1976 was the turning point. In January of that year the National Fancy Rat Society was founded.  This was the first ever “rats only” organization. It set standards, published a newsletter, and held shows. Since 1976 interest in fancy rats has grown enormously, and many new varieties have been found and standardized.

The history of domestic rats in the United States is not very clear. Most likely people did catch and keep wild rats as pets, and unusually colored ones probably were found. Unfortunately there are no written records (that we are aware of) documenting this. Scientific laboratories are responsible for most of the fancy rats found in the U.S. Early pet care books dating from the 1920s suggest contacting a local laboratory or university to obtain a pet white rat. If this was not successful, they recommend asking a pet shop keeper to contact their animal supplier and see if they could provide one. Apparently many people who bred animals for pet shops also supplied them to laboratories.

THE U.S. RAT FANCY
The rat fancy is relatively young in the United States. The first U.S. club, the Mouse and Rat Breeders Association, appeared in 1978. In 1983 the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association originated. Since that time rats have been imported from England so that the U.S. now has all the varieties available overseas. Fanciers in the U.S. have also been responsible for originating a number of their own varieties. There are now several clubs in the United States, and many more worldwide catering to rats (and mice).

Over the last 15 years there has been a large increase of interest in Fancy Rats as show animals and pets. In a large part we have the recent popularity of reptile keeping to thank for this, as many people buy rodents to feed their reptiles and end up discovering what wonderful pets rats make. Also, people have less time, money, and space for animals so are often turning to Pocket Pets as an ideal alternative. Rats today are more popular than they have ever been, and we can look forward to this trend continuing into the future.

DIFFERENCES FROM WILD RATS

While domesticated rats are not removed enough from their wild counterparts to justify a distinct subspecies (like the dog versus grey wolf), there are significant differences that set them apart; the most apparent is coloring. Random color mutations may occur in the wild, but these are rare. Most wild R. norvegicus are a dark brown color, while fancy rats may be anything from white to cinnamon to blue.

Behaviorally, domesticated pet rats are tamer than those in the wild.  They are more comfortable around humans and known to seek out their owners while roaming freely. They have decreased reactions to light and sound, are less cautious of new food, and have better tolerance to overcrowding. Domesticated rats are shown to mate earlier, more readily, and for a longer period of time over their lifespan.  Also, domesticated rats exhibit different behaviors when fighting with each other; while wild rats almost always flee a lost battle, caged rats spend protracted amounts of time in a belly-up or boxing position. These behavioral traits are thought to be products of environment as opposed to genetics. However, it is also theorized that there are certain underlying biological reasons for why some members of a wild species are more receptive to domestication than others, and that these differences are then passed down to offspring.

The body structure of domesticated rats differs from that of a wild rat as well. The body of a fancy rat is smaller, with larger ears and a longer tail. Domesticated rats have generally smaller and sharper facial features as well.

Domesticated rats have a longer lifespan than that of wild rats. Because domesticated rats are protected from predators and have ready access to food, water, shelter, and medical care, their average lifespan is around two to three years, in contrast to wild R. norvegicus, which average a lifespan of less than one year.  However, wild rats generally have larger brains, hearts, livers, kidneys, and adrenal glands than laboratory rats. The fancy rat and wild rat also each face a multitude of differing health concerns; the former is at risk of developing a pneumococcal infection from exposure to humans, while the latter may harbor tapeworms after coming in contact with carriers such as cockroaches and fleas.

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