Albino rats are easily distinguished due to their white coats and pink eyes. They are a direct descendant of the Norway rat, as almost every rat breed is, but, due to genetic modification, they have pure white hair instead of having color. They also have pink eyes, instead of the usual red or black. Other than this, they act in exactly the same way as most other rats.
While they have only been kept as pets for a few decades, and are often used in laboratory research, they have actually been around for hundreds of years.
The first mention of an albino rat, by the Swiss naturalist, Conrad Gesner, was in Norway in 1553. They have lived in the wild for hundreds of years and make great pets for adults and children.
Albino Rat Coat & Looks
The most obvious difference between an Albino rat and a regular rat is the coat color. It is not that the Albino rat has a white coat instead of a colored one; it is that they have a lack of pigment in their coat, resulting in the white coat. While you do not have a lot of choice when it comes to the color of the coat, you do get a rat which is distinct and looks like no other.
There is no pigment in the hair of the rat, resulting in the white coat, which is a lack of color, and the same is true for the eyes. While you see pink eyes, you do not actually see the eye color. The lack of pigment means that there is no color, and what you are actually seeing is the light bouncing off the blood vessels at the back of the eye, giving a pink hue.
Only rats with bright white fur can be classed as Albino rats. There cannot be any hints of yellow, or any other color, in the coats. They must also have pink eyes, and not black or red.
As for the coat, Albino rats can be hairless in some circumstances, but generally have short straight hair, similar to the most common rat breeds.
How Do I Care For An Albino Rat?
The best place for your rat to live is in a wire cage. Rats like to chew, so choose either a cage with metal bars or one with a protective coating which will not be detrimental to your rat’s health. Rats also love to climb, so make sure that the bars are spaced far enough apart for your rat to climb up the inside of the cage but not so far apart that the rat can squeeze through the bars.
Albino rats need as much space as other rat breeds, and we recommend a cage at least 20” x 20” x 20”. If you want to have more than one rat, then we would add 20% to these numbers for each additional rat. We would also recommend going as big as you can with your cage, and as tall as you can. Rats love to climb and explore, and having a large cage with lots of levels will help them to do that.
Albino rats do not do well with grid floors, so look for solid cage floors, and cover them in lots of litter and bedding. Rats like to nest, so make sure that there is a place for them to do that. When looking at litter, look for litter which is dust free as Albino rats are susceptible to respiratory problems.
Albino rats are extremely intelligent and like to be challenged; that is why they are used so frequently as lab rats.
Cleaning your rat cage should also be a priority, and we would recommend cleaning out your rat cage at least once a week. When you do, take the time to change all of the bedding and litter, and sanitize the cage inside and out. When caring for your Albino rat, you should also be spot cleaning your cage as often as needed. As you check on your rat, check on their cage too.
Furnish the cage with lots of toys and interactive areas. Albino rats are extremely intelligent and like to be challenged; that is why they are used so frequently as lab rats. If you cannot spend a lot of time with them, then we recommend furnishing their cage with as many levels as possible, along with places to hide, run through, and interact with. Create puzzles for your rat to solve, and they will find a lot of happiness.
How Active Are Albino Rats?
Albino rats are extremely active. When you look at their use as lab rats, they are often used in maze tests and can run those mazes all day. You will need to let your albino out of their cage for at least an hour a day but, don’t worry, you do not need a maze for them. Having said that, you can create an interactive experience for them in the area they are active.
Old pipes and tubes, along with cardboard toilet paper holders, make great tubes for your rats to run through. They also enjoy places where they can hide and puzzles.
If you want to reward them with treats, then find toys which they have to interact with to get their food. A cheap way to do this is to find a plastic bottle and drill holes in it, big enough to dispense their treats. Now, when they want their treats, they will have to move around and manipulate the bottle to get the treats out.
We recommend giving your Albino rat an entire room to run around in. They are extremely active and love a lot of room to run around in. Having them loose in a room also gives you a good chance to spend some time with them and interact with them. If you spend time with your rat, you will create a lifelong bond with your pet.
What Should I Feed my Albino Rat?
Albino rats need the same diet as most other rat breeds. They need a diet which is rich in protein, and the best way to give them this is to feed them a pellet-based or seed-based diet. The only difference between the two is dependent on how your rat eats. If your rat is a picky eater and will pick through the seed-based diet for the sweet treats, then a pellet-based diet is better. If they are not a selective eater, then you can choose either.
To supplement this protein-rich diet, you can also add in cooked chicken, boiled eggs, and other proteins.
Rats also need fruits and vegetables to survive, and they will get some from their pellets, but you can still add more. Carrots and apples are common additions, but there are many fruits and vegetables which they like. We do not recommend giving them too many fruits and sweet vegetables as a lot of sugar is not good for them. Give them fruits as a treat or use them for rewards if you want to train them.
As with any animal, rats need fresh, clean water. Use a bottle for the water, and fill it if it ever gets low. If the water ever becomes contaminated, then change the water and clean out the bottle.
Healthcare For Albino Rats
Although Albino rats differ from other rat breeds due to their lack of pigment, they do not have any health issues which are specific to only them. They suffer from the same health issues that other breeds of rats do, and most of them are easy to treat and avoid.
Look for dust-free litter and bedding, and clean the cage as often as you can.
All rats are born with a respiratory disease which could show itself at any time. The only way to know if this is developing (before it breaks out) is with regular visits to the vet. There is no way to stop it, but there are ways which you can help to control it if it does develop. Look for dust-free litter and bedding, and clean the cage as often as you can. The respiratory disease can be worsened by due and soiled bedding.
You may also have a rat which suffers from bumblefoot. This happens more with rats who are part of a group but can also happen with any rat. When rats fight, they can often injure and scratch their feet (this can happen in other ways too). A cut in the foot can become red and swollen. Thankfully, this is easy to treat, and a round of antibiotics will do the trick.
Albino Rats As Pets
Albino rats make for great pets and are particularly popular due to their unique color. Adults and children love how they look, and they do not require any more care and attention than regular rats, so are easy to care for even for small children (though we always recommend adult supervision).
They are an affectionate breed who thrive on social interaction and will form a bond for life with you. Being so intelligent, they can learn tricks, solve puzzles, and even respond to their names. Once they get to know you, they will run towards you when they see you.
They are an affectionate breed who thrive on social interaction and will form a bond for life with you.
Albino rats are a great pet for everyone.