Pet rats originated from the Brown or Norway rat (Rattus Norvegicus) in the early 18th century. It was only a matter of time until someone caught one to keep as a pet.
In the 1800's, various coloured mice found their way into houses as pets in England, and in 1895 the National Mouse Club was founded. This organisation set the standards of varieties for future Fancy Mice shows. Much like in the dog or cat world. Interest wavered over the next many years, but was sparked up again in 1976. That January, National Fancy Rat Society was founded. It was officially the first ever "rat only" society, and produced new standards, sent out newsletters, and held shows.
Coat & Body Types
Aside from a standard coat, coat types include (not all available in South Africa – bold available in sa):
:: Rex: Short curly coat and whiskers. The coat texture feels rougher than Velveteen. :: Velveteen: Wavy, dense, soft coat and curly whiskers. :: Double rex: A rat with a rex coat which fall out in patches giving a rather moth eaten appearance. :: Satin: A smooth, soft, shiny coat with thinner hairs which are slightly longer than in standard rats. :: Harley: A longhaired rat. This is a new variety discovered in September 2002. This variety is named after the original rat owned by Odd Fellows Rattery in Washington, USA. This variety requires special care of it's coat. Not recommended for first-time rat owners. :: Hairless: No hair at all on body, except some fuzz around the eyes and whiskers in some individuals. Whiskers can be straight or curly. This variety also requires special care for it's skin.
Body types include:
:: Dumbo eared: Larger, round ears set lower on the head. :: Tailless: A rat without a tail. The body tend to be more rounded and stocky. :: Dwarf: A rat which is about one third the size of a normal rat in adulthood. Feet and legs are smaller in proportion to body size compared to standard rats plus tails are also shorter in proportion to body size.
What you didn't know about Rats:
Rats spend most of their time cleaning themselves. They don’t like to live in filth and if push comes to shove, you can give them the odd bath (using puppy/kitten shampoo – rinse well and keep them out of draughts!)
Boys have “buck grease” which is a natural oil on their coat.
Rats can be litter trained to do their business in a certain spot.
Rats can carry lice, which is treatable and is not transferable to humans
The Plague was started by the FLEAS on the rats, not the rats themselves.