So you’re thinking about getting an Albino rat as a pet…
Or maybe you’ve already made the call and want to learn more about your new best friend…
Either way, rest assured that:
- You’ve found your way to the right corner of the internet.
- You’ve made (or are about to make) an excellent decision — Albino rats are loving pets that’ll brighten up even the worst of your days! 🐁 ❤️
And more good news:
These little guys are pretty easy to care for.
However, you’ll still need to learn a thing or two before you can consider yourself a responsible rat parent…
But don’t worry; it won’t be hard, and it’ll only take 10-15 minutes’ worth of effort.
So just read on, and we’ll cover absolutely all the information an Albino rat owner needs to know, including things like history, care, diet, fun facts, and essential supplies.
Let’s get down to business and turn you into an Albino rat expert!
A Brief History About the Albino Rat
Before getting into the fun details of how to care for Albino rats, it’s definitely worth taking a moment to explore a bit about your newest family member’s history.
You’ll be amazed to hear that Albinos have been around for a really long time:
They were first mentioned way back in 1553 by the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner, who observed two white rats in a cemetery in Norway.
But don’t ask us why he was there in the first place! But, this does suggest that the albino rat does descent from wild rats.
This discovery means that the genetic mutation that causes albinism in rats has been around for at least 468 years, but it could be even more! This is quite amazing if you consider that white fur makes wild animals an easy-to-see target for predators.
Albino rats started to gain popularity in the 1700s when they were first domesticated and kept as exotic pets by rat-catchers. But it was only in the 1900s that they earned worldwide recognition for their role as laboratory rats thanks to their gentle nature and uncanny similarity to humans.
Shortly after, animal lovers made another important discovery about these little ratties:
Albinos aren’t just laboratory animals, but also loving pets! 🥼 🐭 🏠
Laboratory Rat Strains
Now, this is an emotional subject for pet parents like us, so feel free to skip this part. But, it’s an important part of the albino rats history so we need to discuss it.
These rats are experimental animals and do play an important part in scientific research. These are normally a specific breed, such as the Sprague Dawley or the Wistar rat, which gets its name from the Wistar Institute where they were first bred.
Laboratory rat strains are used for research purposes and were bred as an alternative to mice. They’re used in laboratories around the world for research into many things, from fertility and genetics to medicine and surgery.
The Hooded Rat was more commonly used, and it’s believed that through natural gene mutations, Albinos were bred and found to have a calmer behaviour that made them easier to work with.
That’s enough of that – Let us move on to some cuter subjects.
Albino Rats – Their Special Look
It only takes one glance to see what makes an Albino rat unique:
Their gorgeous white coat and their bewitching pink eyes.
This look is so striking that breeders and enthusiasts have come to refer to them by the name of Pink Eyed Whites (PEWs).
The most interesting thing about their coat and eye color is that it’s caused by a genetic mutation that expresses itself as a complete lack of color pigmentation. Their fur only looks white to human eyes because it has absolutely no color, while their eyes only look pink because we see the blood vessels in their eyes.
If you can see hints of any other colors in their coats or eyes, then the rat you’re looking at is a light-colored fancy rat and not an Albino.
This lack of color helps explain two things that, otherwise, would be rather confusing:
- Completely hairless Albino rats also exist.
- Scientists consider Albino rats to be part of the same species as brown rats: the Norway rat (Rattus Norvegicus).
- Many other animals, such as Guinea Pigs, can be Albino.
The science part. Albinism is caused by a genetic missense mutation.
Taking Care of Your Pet Rat
First things first, you need to get your Albino rat a fantastic home.
The best option is a wired cage because they’re resistant enough to withstand chewing, and they offer rats plenty of climbing opportunities (which they love!).
What should you look for in the ideal rat cage?
- Loads of space and levels — go for the biggest, tallest cage you can fit in your home!
- Tight spacing between the bars (a max of 1″ (2.5 cm) for adult rats and 1/2″ (1.3 cm) for babies)
- Solid flooring that’s gentle on their tiny feet
- Plenty of hiding spaces
Our favorite option is the Midwest Deluxe Critter Nation, so definitely check this product out first!
Need more alternatives?
Then read our complete buyer’s guide for six more recommendations!
Once you’ve made up your mind on a home for your Albino rat, you can move on and pick some bedding to make their cage nice and cozy.
There’s a ton of good options out there; just make sure that the litter you pick is dust-free!
If you’re stuck, we suggest going for Carefresh Small Pet Bedding.
You need them because Albino rats are super energetic, intelligent little critters that love to exercise and be mentally stimulated. Just think that they can easily spend the entire day running mazes and solving problems in laboratory research!
What should you get to perk up their cage?
Here are six solid items every rat is sure to enjoy:
- A relaxing hammock
- A hideaway box (or igloo)
- An exercise wheel
- A rat tube
- A couple of chew toys
- A litter box (P.S. Albino rats are pretty easy to litter train)
You could also use household items (like old tubes, pipes, and cardboard boxes) to create fun, low-cost mazes for your little buddies!
Now that you’re fully equipped, it’s time to go over some tips and best practices that’ll help you take even better care of your rat.
Let your Albino rat out of their cage and allow them to run free for at least one hour a day in a rat-safe room.
We highly recommend spending as much of this time as possible playing and bonding with them.
Because Albino rats are incredibly social creatures, and they really benefit from the extra love, attention, and cuddles!
Get your Albino rat one or two housemates.
We just mentioned that rats are social creatures, and we meant it.
An Albino that lives on their own is at high risk of becoming lonely and depressed…
Don’t risk a sad rat — find them some furry friends to spend the day with!
Make cleaning your rats’ cage a priority.
You should pick out rat droppings daily and do a full cage clean-up weekly — change the bedding, wash the cage, and sanitize it with a cage cleaner.
Your rats (and your nose) will appreciate your hard work!
Feed them a proper, healthy diet.
Food is so important that it deserves its own section — here you go:
A Solid Mealplan for Pet Rats
Albinos don’t have special dietary requirements and can be given the same type of food you’d serve to other fancy rat breeds.
The majority of their diets (70-75%) should be made up of high-quality, specially-formulated rat pellets (like Oxbow Essentials). These will prevent selective feeding and provide your Albino rat with all the essential nutrients they need to thrive.
The remaining 25-30% should consist of a varied mix of fresh foods like vegetables, pasta, boiled eggs, cooked chicken, and other high-protein snacks.
What about treats?
You can give them fruits, seeds, and nuts a maximum of twice a week as rewards for good behavior or learning new skills.
And, of course, don’t forget to give them an unlimited supply of drinking water, preferably in a bottle, to avoid their water getting dirty or infected!
Speaking about food brings us to another important topic:
A Couple of Health Considerations
One of the major health issues in rats is obesity because they enjoy eating anything they can get their little hands on. So always keep an eye on their weight and adjust their food intake (and number of treats) accordingly!
Other health risks include respiratory disease, bumblefoot, tumors, and uterine infections (in females).
What can you do to prevent them?
- Avoid cages with wire bottoms.
- Get your rats spayed/neutered.
- Schedule a routine check-up with your vet every six months.
- Get them dust-free litter and bedding.
Apart from that, the only other thing you can do is pay close attention to your Albino rats and take them straight to the vet if you notice:
- A sudden lack of appetite
- A red tear-like discharge (which isn’t blood) around their eyes or nose
- Sluggish or clumsy movements
- Loud or unnaturally rapid breathing
There’s one final piece of information you should be aware of:
Unfortunately, Albino rats don’t live for a long time — their average lifespan is only two to four years.
So cherish the limited time you’ll have together and care for them like every day was their last!
Their Loving Personality
Albino rats aren’t only popular because of their (lack of) color…
But also because they’re tremendously intelligent, affectionate, and loving!
There’s no other critter in the small animal world that you can build such a strong bond with…
Rats remind many people of the most intelligent dog breeds because of the way they learn tricks, respond to their name, and come running when they see you after a long day at work.
They’re also surprisingly clean, and they spend more time meticulously grooming themselves than cats.
Pretty impressive, huh?
Just wait until you teach your Albino to shoot hoops with you!
A fun fact:
Females generally tend to be more active and playful than males, so get a girl if you’re planning on a lot of playtime with your pets.
Enjoyed our fun fact? ☺️
Then the next section is for you!
5 Fun Facts for the Avid Rat Lover 🐭
We thought we’d end our guide with a few more fascinating facts…
You know, to give you the ability to really impress friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of your Albino rats!
1 – Albino rats are sacred animals in the Karni Mata temple in Rajasthan, India. Locals believe that they’re the direct descendants of the deity Karni Mata, and seeing one inside the temple is considered a special blessing.
2 – A Dumbo rat can also be an Albino. These adorable, big-eared animals (does Ratatouille ring a bell?) can also inherit this recessive gene mutation and be completely colorless.
3 – A group of rats is called a ‘mischief.’ If you ask us, it’s the perfect name for when your little guys are up to no good!
4 – Albino rats are incredibly fast breeders — they can give birth to a new litter (of up to 16 baby rats) only 21 days after their previous one! So, if you don’t plan on starting a rattery, make sure to get your pet rodents neutered/spayed and stick to same-sex cage partners.
5 – Albinos (and other varieties of rats) can dream about what they did during their day, just like us!
And now that’s everything you need to know about Albinos…
So let’s wrap things up
Conclusion: The Perfect Pet
Albino rats are much more than just excellent lab rats loved by scientists from all across the world…
They’re also a truly wonderful choice for pets because they’re gentle, smart, clean, easy-to-train, and low-maintenance!
What more could you possibly want?
Beauty? Their snow-white coat has got that covered! ✔️
Companionship? Albinos get along great with humans of all sizes, including children, making them perfect company for the entire family! ✔️
All in all, you can rest easy if you decide to adopt a couple of Albino rats — it’s a fantastic decision, and you’ll be in for an action-packed couple of years with your little fellows! 🐁 🤗 🐁