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12 July 2007 @ 09:41 pm
hairless rat care?  
i have been considering getting another rattie-girl to add to my rat-family. i've been thinking about getting a hairless rat (or a rex) but i'm still not sure if i'm going to get another rat at all. (it all mainly depends on whether i can provide both the time and the money. . . but that's another story.)

my big worry about getting a hairless rat is that i'm not sure if there are any health-concerns. i've done a little research online, but it seems to be conflicting information anywhere from (and this is all generalizations) "hairless rats are genetically unstable, and shouldn't be bred, let alone kept as pets!" to "hairless rats are perfectly fine and make great pets."

so, what do you guys say? keep in mind, there's a good chance i might not adopt another rat, it's only if i think i'm ready for that much more responsibility, but inquiring minds must know!
 
 
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penguinsane on July 13th, 2007 04:49 am (UTC)
The reason why most breeders don't like breeding hairless is because females have a problem lactating at times. If they do breed them, they usually have another lactating doe on-hand just in case.

As an owner of a hairless rat for two years, they're just like any other rat, except they're more prone to cold and drafts, due to their lack of protection, and need more places to nest and more material to nest with. Some owners have trouble with theirs and dry skin, which can be solved with a little baby-safe lotion and a treat once a week or so of some olive oil soaked bread.
Shade Christiwolvenshade_xiwolfen on July 13th, 2007 05:07 am (UTC)
okay, that makes sense. (in all honesty - one main reason i was attracted to the idea of a hairless rat was because that would give me an excuse to absolutely drown it in extra, warmth-producing affection. ^.- )

thanks!
Emily Rosebeautifulwolf on July 13th, 2007 05:25 am (UTC)
Hairless rats are also often sufferers of VERY low immune systems, and being pron to infections. That's *actually* the reason many breeders don't breed them (short, sickly life spans), as breeders can get around the lactation problems, by breeding does known to lactate at the same time.

Over the past 8 years, I've owned rescue hairless with HORRIBLE health (As in, died within 1 year, to an assortment of untreatable infections), Owned GREAT breeder-bred hairless, who lived 2+ with no infections, and owned HORRIBLE healthed hairless out of breeder lines, with the same issues the rescues have had. *TYPICAL* hairless locally (they are common feeders), are what I call "walking vet bills".

If you adopt from a breeder, get from a GOOD line, with health, lack of infections (mainly eye infections, and abscesses), and longevity. If you rescue, make sure you have plenty of "just in case" funds set aside, as you may need them.

Hairless are a joy to own. Very sweet, and most TEND to be more cuddly. I like having atleast one "naked kiddo" at all times, as otherwise my house feels... clothed! haha ;0P

The main issues I have had, Harry the hairless as an example is them developing infections, and not responding to antibiotics. It also hasn't been uncommon with other rat owners, *BUT*, it doesn't mean all hairless are sickly :)

Also in reference to the articles against hairless, there is MULTIPLE genes that cause hairless. The big "don't breed them" article, actually talks about a gene for hairless that doesn't exist in the fancy, only in laboratories! It's been refuted, and protested by breeders who responsibly breed hairless. There are atleast 3 known genes that cause hairless in rats, NOT counting the double rexes, who are often hairless.
Shade Christiwolven: wuzzat?shade_xiwolfen on July 13th, 2007 04:04 pm (UTC)
would making sure to give the (hairless) rat extra vitamins and minerals before the fact of infection help prevent it? i mean. . . "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" after all, and i'd rather spend the extra bucks for some "rattie vitamin and mineral substitutes" than some antibiotics and vet visits - mainly because it totally eliminates the extra stress on the rat of being in poor health and visiting a vet (even though i'd be sure to make sure the rat is comfortable during a rat visit, i'm sure its stressful nonetheless. . .)
Emily Rosebeautifulwolf on July 14th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
Extra vitamins won't do much in the way of health... reason being is that processed vitamins as a whole are often unusable, and also getting the nutrition they need from a natural, whole food is MUCH better! This is why fresh fruits, and veggies are required for rats, even those fed the "nutritionally complete" lab blocks.

Most nutritionalists will tell you that a complete diet, including whole foods are much better for you than popping vitamins, and supplements.... the others are typically charging outrageous amounts for "special" vitamins, and supplements. (Much like vets who sell poor quality pet foods, for the profit)
Robin June Nakkula: Pet ratrobin_june on July 13th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
I'm wondering how much of the "hairless rats are genetically unstable, and shouldn't be bred, let alone kept as pets!" stuff is coming from the "olden days" 20-30 years ago when "hairless" was still differentiating itself from "nude" as a concept in commentators' minds, if not also as a genetic strain.

Nude rats look like hairless rats, excxept they also lack an immune system. Take nude rats out of their sterile gnotobiotic laboratory animal colony, and they get sick and die. Hairless rats have enough of an immune system to survive and thrive in human homes.
Seanteenonfire4lord on July 13th, 2007 05:39 am (UTC)
Hairless are awesome! I have two varities of hairless rats, one a fuzzy hairless named Dora, and the other a patchwork named Kairi. Kairi is so cute, because she keeps changing back and forth! She grows in almost a full set of fur, and then it falls out. She goes from fuzzy to naked and back!

Both are sweet and cute. Dora is an explorer (get it? GET IT?! HAHAHAhaha..ha......ha) and active, while Kairi just likes to chill out. Kairi did get a rather nasty eye infection, and hairless are prone to that.

Hairless FTW!
Grandma Ionsmith: jennabit_bit on July 13th, 2007 11:46 am (UTC)
I have two hairless girls (one about 2.5 yrs, one 6 months), and they've been nothing but a joy to have. They have a higher metabolism than furred rats in order to stay warm, which means they eat more and are often more hyper and crazy. They are also so warm and soft, I like just holding them up to my face or giving them belly kisses. Jenna is by far the smartest rat I've ever owned, and can get out of any enclosure. Pinky, despite being the smallest of the three littermates I adopted, is their alpha and manages to pin the older rats sometimes too. Jenna has had tumors, like many female rats, but never an infection despite the many minor skin scratches she got from playing with her sisters. She'll get a little wheezy once in a while, but overall I think her immune system is great for a rat her age.

So, in short, I see no reason you should avoid getting a hairless rat just because she's hairless. They're absolutely great little ratties.
Ziggy: faith darksicpuppy on July 13th, 2007 12:55 pm (UTC)
In the UK, hairless are generally frowned upon, and are certainly not standardised for showing (you're not even allowed to bring one into the building of an NFRS rat show, let alone show it). But people's opinions are slowly changing.
The main problem with UK hairless is that no one dares to try and breed them ethically, because they would get ripped apart by most of the rat fancy for working with hairless. So the only place to get hairless from here is a pet shop, a rescue or a back yard breeder. There ARE not ethical, sound, responsible, health conscious breeders here who work with them, meaning you're pretty screwed if you want one.
You pretty much HAVE to get one from an unknown or poorly bred line.
I hope one day someone in the UK actually says 'fuck it' and tries to breed them responsibly to see what potential they have. Everyone in the UK seems to think they're horribly unhealthy and all that rot, but of COURSE they are at the moment, since no one ethical is breeding them!

I have 3, and they were all rescues that were dumped on someones door step in london. I've only had them about 3 or 4 months, but have had absolutely NO health issues with them. One is alpha of his cage, and suffers from rather a lot of scratches, but thats about it. One of them, Frasier, got bitten on his neck and has a huge bruise come up with a huge lump to accompany it, which I was sure would need antibiotics, but it went down completely within 2 days on its own. There is obviously nothing wrong with his immunse system!

If you have the option, DO get one from a breeder who focuses on health and longevity. I didn't have the choice with mine, but it seems I've been pretty lucky anyway. Just through my experiences with my 3, I haven't noticed ANY difference between them and my furry rats.
My rats also live outside in a shed (heated in the winter) and the hairless lads do absolutely fine. They're out and about in their cages even on winter nights and not being in a centrally heated house doesn't bother them, it seems. They're more hardly than people think.
indianneindianne on July 13th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
In their defence, I've read that the main reason the NFRS discourages hairless rats is that the buildings shows are held in aren't normally air conditioned or heated and hairless are more sensitive to temperature change. There's an article on it here. It's the same reason they've banned tail less rats.
To be honest, I applaud the stance of the org: I really don't agree that breeding mutations like hairless for mutations sake is a good idea (and yes, I do have a dumbo. I'd like him just as much with standard ears.) and there's no way I'd buy rats from someone who'd told the reputable breeders and the fancy to get stuffed just to breed fad varieties.

A rat's a rat - if there are any potential health issues I don't see why the limits need to be pushed to get a variety that, ultimately, is just as good a pet as any other rat?
Ziggy: franksicpuppy on July 13th, 2007 02:26 pm (UTC)
I was told by a member of the NFRS that its because they don't want to 'advertise' the variety to other people. If you bring a hairless along, people will be wow'ed by the novelty of it and probably want one themselves, hence encouraging people to get them.
I don't believe the air conditioning thing for a moment, since rexes are allowed who often have huge bald patches. Added to which, all my hairless live outside in a shed with absolutely no problems with the cold at all. I even knew someone who kept hairless in a shed with no heating, even in winter, and they did great.

They banned tailless because of the health issues. Tailless as good as don't exist in the UK because of the crippling health issues they can have. Virtually no-one here supports them. I fully back the NFRS on their stance to not allow tailless as it seems that even when ethically bred, they can still have serious health problems.

I don't agree with breeding oddities that are harmful to the rat deliberately either, hence why Im opposed to tailless.
BUT all rat varieties bar agouti self top eared and perhaps blacks are mutations. If we're going to be really purist here, we wouldn't own anything but the two above varieties. How about pink eyed rats with their inferior eye sight? How about rexes with the whiskers that can poke into their eyes and also restrict their ability to get signals about their environment? How about high white rats? Some rats from blue based lines who tend to be less robust? There are lots of varieties the NFRS allow in which have as many potential problems as hairless.

My argument with hairless is that they already exist. Probably better that they never did in the first place, but they're here now. They're not going away. Far better that if people want one, they can go to a good breeder and get healthy, well bred rats. At the moment in the UK, you're forced to either get one from a pet shop or a BYB, neither of which anyone should be supporting.
Also, there is zero proof that a well bred hairless is any less healthy or robust than any other variety IF bred conscienciously. But since no-one in the UK is doing this, how will we ever know what potential hairless have? How do we know that any health issues they have can't be bred out? It seems in the UK, people just refuse to try, then they have the gall to claim hairless are unhealthy! Well of course they are, because no one is breeding them properly.
It also amuses me when people oppose hairless on the grounds of they 'MIGHT' have health issues, but also own breeds of dog with squashed faces, shortened legs, etc


A friend of mine who is in the NFRS said that they would probably be willing to over-turn the ruling on hairless IF someone could prove they were as healthy as any other variety. But since everyone in the UK is terrified to even try breeding hairless ethically because of the backlash from other breeders, it might be a long time coming.
If I had the time and money to breed, I'd probably give it a go myself. At least then we'd have some proof either way rather than just hearsay, which is what most prejudice against hairless is based on at the moment.

All rats are of course equal. I have 19, and the vast majority are rescues, and I never know what colour they are before they arrive, so it really doesn't bother ME what varieties they are at all. But I just don't like hypocrisy, and it DOES seem hypocritical of the NFRS to ban a variety because its less healthy, with no proof that it is unhealthy when bred ethically.
They didn't like dumbos at first either because they thought they would have health problems. But as soon as it was proved they don't, they're accepted.

I do much prefer the NFRS to be warey of mutations, of course. I'd much rather that than just letting in any and all varieties with no concern for health. But the hairless issue DOES bug me because it seems to be based on nothing but hearsay right now. And I have 3 beautifully healthy, happy, robust hairless who are no different to my furry rats in any way.
Robin June Nakkula: Pet ratrobin_june on July 14th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC)
"I was told by a member of the NFRS that its because they don't want to 'advertise' the variety to other people."

Well, ever since that new Harry Potter Wii video game YouTube trailer here:
http://community.livejournal.com/ratties/5544798.html
that I saw AGAIN while waiting in a theatre for the Fantastic 4 movie showing,
here in Ohio The Heart Of the USA (sic),

well,

That cat's pretty much out of the bag.

"Sparky! Sparky, come back!"
undercover1966undercover1966 on July 13th, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Just had to add a little of my opinion here. Having been in rats now for over thirty years I have seen breeders come and go, I also know what people consider backyard breeders, and there have been *Ethical, sound, responsible, health conscoius people* It just depends what you are refering to when you say *backyard breeder*
Ziggy: intensesicpuppy on July 13th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC)
My idea of a back yard breeder is someone who breeds without thought to health, longevity, temperament, and bettering the rat as a species.
Someone who breeds too many litters from one doe, someone who breeds rats only for money, someone who isn't concerned with the welfare of rats but just wants money. Someone who doesn't keep pedigrees and health histories, who doesn't keep in contact with the owners of their babies.
I don't know if its different in other countries, but in the UK, thats what a back yard breeder is, whether we're talking about rats, pupies, kittens etc. A back yard breeder is not ethical, sound, responsible or health conscious 99% of the time.

Shade Christiwolven: i am the emoshade_xiwolfen on July 13th, 2007 03:59 pm (UTC)
sounds like the definition of a "backyard breeder" to rats is the definition of "puppy mill" to dogs. . . and it just makes me angry.
Ziggy: happy ratsicpuppy on July 13th, 2007 04:05 pm (UTC)
It doesn't necessarily have to be on the scale of a puppy mill, for me at least.
A puppy mill is usually a large scale business with loads of dogs being bred. For rats, that would be more equvilant to a rodent mill, which is where the majority of pet shop animals come from.

A back yard breeder for rats could even just be someone who breeds 3 or 4 litters a year from their bedroom, but if they're not paying any attention to genetics, health, longevity, or the quality of their breeding stock, I consider them a back yard breeder.
You know the sort, anyone who can buy a male and female rat from the local pet shop, put them together and get litters they sell for £10 a kitten, but in the meantime have no idea what health problems they've just bred into another generation.

The world is so over-populated with rats that we should ONLY be breeding if we're doing them a service by doing so, ie, increasing their health and life spans.
Back yard breeders don't do this, whether intentionally or just through ignorance. They simply flood the world with more rats for no benefit to the rat species.
Shade Christiwolvenshade_xiwolfen on July 13th, 2007 05:15 pm (UTC)
yeah, makes sense. unfortunately - breeding rats is so easy that it's hard to stop people. i know that here in the states, aside from what a landlord might think about having rats on a property, there really aren't any set laws against breeding rats (or any animal, for that matter) in ones home. it makes things easy for responsible breeders, but also easy for the backyard breeders, as well.
Ziggy: beautysicpuppy on July 13th, 2007 05:18 pm (UTC)
There are no laws about it here either. Anyone can take a male and female rat (which are of course easy as pie to obtain from most pet shops) and put them together, then they're suddenly a breeder. If they think they can get £10 per kitten, average 12 in a litter but often many more, they assume they're on to a money maker.
But in reality, anyone who breeds rats properly makes little to no profit from it, and usually loses money, you really do ned to cut corners on foods, habitats, vet bills and such in order to actually make any real profit from breeding rats. And this is of course what rodent mills who supply pet shops do.
Emily Rosebeautifulwolf on July 14th, 2007 05:10 pm (UTC)
Yea, but atleast it *is* hard top place rats unless you get referrals, and are established. I know I as a breeder of 10 years, have to pretty much send my possible adopters to my friends who are newer breeders. I get more contacts a week, than I can place with so we just work out sending people to them when they breed litters, and often space litters so they have available babies when I won't have babies!

New breeders without established mentors, typically stop breeding within 3 litters between the lack of homes, and the health issues all at once, from the first group of rats they took in! Those bills slamming in all at once can kill a person not expecting it!

There are MANY "one litter wonders" people, as well as the "fly by night". Unless you're selling to petstores, and don't care if your rats go as feeders, it really can be a challenge for new breeders to home babies.
Shari: jack the ratscaryshari on July 13th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Hairless rats will never be for me. They simply have too many strikes against them: more susceptible to getting cuts and scratches on their skin (which in turn could lead to bacterial skin infections), more susceptible to ingrown eyelashes (so I've heard), more sensitive to cold temperatures, and often have a lower immune system.

I have ADHD and an anxiety disorder, so the last thing I want from a pet is to have my stress and anxiety worsened! :( I'm sure hairless rats are excellent pets -- smart, loveable, fun, etc. I'm not dissing them in terms of their personality or intelligence. :) I'm just saying that I will not KNOWINGLY adopt a pet who has "special needs" (physically) from the outset. If I have a rat who develops problems/needs later on, that's one thing. But to actually choose to adopt a rat with multiple health concerns... well... that's not for me. But I totally admire those who do it!! :D