harley coated rat

Pet Rat Coats: Hairless, Rex, and Harley

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Have you ever wondered what some of the more common and the most sought after rat coat varieties were? Pet rats come in all sorts of varieties, with the standard coat being the most common. The standard coat is about 0.5 inches in length, lays flat against the body, and it tends to be glossy or slick. This is the coat type that you will see on a majority of rats. The other coat types tend to be slightly harder to find, with the rex being the most common of the three special coats and the harley rat coat being the most rare.

standard coated rat
standard coated rat

Hairless, Patchwork Hairless, True Hairless: What’s the Difference?

hooded hairless pet fancy ratA hairless rat is considered to be a rat with little to no fur. Some fancy rat owners really love this variety, myself included. However, there are differences between the true hairless rat and the patchwork hairless. It can be fairly easy to distinguish between the two if you know exactly what you are looking for. Luckily, we’re here to help you figure it out!

How Do I Know If My Rat Is A True Bald, Hairless Sphynx Rat?

A hairless rat is defined as having no hair. It may have short or missing whiskers, but it will not have any fur on the rest of its body. A hairless rat should have smooth, bald, soft skin; much like a hairless cat or hamster. Hairless rats are usually obtained from a breeder. However, they can be found in pet shops from time to time.

Is My Rat A Patchwork Hairless? What Is A Patchwork Fancy Rat?

patchwork hairless rexing rat
This patchwork hairless rat will continue to molt and regrow its hair during its lifetime.

A patchwork hairless rat may alarm an owner that isn’t currently aware of the variety; as it could have hair one day, then be completely bald a few days later! This is completely normal and is not cause for concern (nor does it warrant a trip to the vet). These rats are born from two rex coated parents, which both carry the rexing coat gene. The unique genetics of patchworks are similar to that of double rex rats. The kinky, thick, short rexed coat will grow in, then fall out. The rat’s coat does this because the hairs are brittle and will not grow to the length of a normal rat coat. The whiskers will be kinky, curly, and somewhat short in appearance.

Rex and Double Rex Fancy Rat Coats

Rex coated rats tend to have rex dumbo himalayan ratkinky or curly fur with a few wire like guard hairs. They will also have curled whiskers which are absolutely adorable. Dumbo rats with rexing resemble teddy bears, and are perhaps the most popular type of fancy rat out there. A rex coat will be thick, seemingly short due to curling and kinking, it will not be shiny and lustrous like a standard coat, and it will be somewhat more rough. According to show standards, there should be as few guard hairs as possible within the rexes’ coat, and it should be evenly dense. This means that the fur should not be patchy. Show quality rexes are the best breeding specimens, so many reputable breeders will stick to these guidelines if possible. In some areas, however, driving 500+ miles to a well equipped rattery with fine specimens for adoption may be completely out of the question. ┬áIt is very easy to recognize a rex coated fancy rat, as you can see in the accompanying pictures. Usually, rex coated rats are bred from one double rex or patchwork hairless rat and one standard coat rat. Rat genetics work in fascinating ways!

The first rex coated rats were bred by a geneticist (Roy Robinson) in the mid 1970’s.

variegated dumbo rex
dumbo eared rex with black mismatched cap, variegation, and head spot

The National Fancy Rat Society decided to incorporate these gorgeous curly-haired rats into their standards during the same year that they were first bred: 1976! This gorgeous variety has been around for over 35 years now, giving them time to populate the North American continent fairly well. The rexes have been so well incorporated into professionally bred lines that you can find them in every type:

  • Berkshire, Irish and variegated rexes
  • Dumbo rexes
  • Harley rex coated rats
  • Mink, cinnamon, dove, chocolate, roan, blue himalayan, blue siamese, and many other uncommon colors are available in rex coats
  • Dwarfed rexes
  • Almost any combination you can think of!

What Is A Double Rex Fancy Rat Coat?

A double rex coated rat is the result of two rexed parents; both dam and sire must have nicely rexed coats. This is also a hairless rat; or, they have very little fur. Generally a double rex will have mostly clean, bald skin and then a little bit of hair on the lower legs and the facial area. The whiskers will be curled, as will any other hair remaining on the body. The fur is more like a peach fuzz rather than what you might be thinking of. Regardless, it is absolutely adorable seeing these naked little bitties with some adorable facial fros! The double rex rat can be bred to a standard coat rat to bring out the rexing gene into the babies’ DNA. This genotype will pronounce itself as a phenotype, as the straight fur gene dilutes the rexing gene, resulting in babies that have fur (rexed, of course).

The Long Haired, Luxurious, Soft, Harley Rat Coat

harley coated rat
The rare, elusive, harley coated rat!

Harley coated rats are something I’ve wanted to get my hands on for a very long time. Long haired rats are very cute, and it is a very rare coat type. Many people are attempting to breed this gene out, but it will take a while before this harley variety is widely available. Breeders across the country have definitely established their own lines, but any potential adopter should be well aware of the standards for a harley coat. When they are just kits, they will have seemingly greasy fur. It’s not that the greasy looking fur on the rat is actually oiled up, it is just that the hair is long and thin. As they get a little more age on them, it’ll become really wispy and soft; it’ll look like the rat i having a crazy bad hair day!

For a few more facts regarding this coat type, they were originally discovered by mistake in 2002. The first documented harley rat was actually in a pet shop. It is unknown whether this female harley rat was bred by an owner, or a genetic mutation that happened to spawn in a commercial rat barn. This female was taken home and was pregnant at the time; after being paired with one of her sons upon his maturation, the first harley babies were born to a breeder.

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