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Hairless Rats: What You Need to Know

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Rodent lovers love mice as pets, but many people are unaware that they can keep hairless mice as pets. Hairless mice are similar to normal furry mice, but require extra care and affection to lead a happy, healthy life. If you're interested in owning hairless mice, everything you need to know about them is in this article.

Hairless rat isolated on white background
Hairless mice are born with hair, but due to a defective immune system, they shed it shortly after birth.

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

How to Identify Hairless Rats

As the name suggests, hairless mice have no fur or hair. Hairless mice are a variety of fancy mice, easily recognizable by their pink, smooth, hairless skin. Other than that, the mice have the same features as normal mice and have black or red eyes.

Hairless mice become hairless due to a genetic mutation. This mutation causes the rat's thymus to not fully form. Interestingly, hairless mice are born with fur, but shed it due to a unique quirk of their immune system. Because of their defective immune systems, the mice develop health problems and don't live long, living for about a year.

Types of hairless mice

There are three different types of hairless mouse subspecies, which have different genetic makeups. The different types of hairless mice are:

Double Rex hairless mouse . These hairless mice have two rex genes, which cause them to be hairless. Uniquely, the double bully hairless mouse has eyebrows and a curly beard. These mice may come in a range of different colors, and they may also have small patches of hair on their heads and feet.

Patchwork Hairless Rat . These subspecies also have two T. rex genes. As the name suggests, this mouse has small patches of hair growing all over its body, like a patchwork. As the mice age, they lose their patchwork patches of hair and grow new hairs in their place. Like the double hairless king rat, these rodents vary in coat color.

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Sphinx or true hairless mouse . The less common hairless mouse takes its name from the Sphinx, a breed of hairless cat. Breeders purposefully bred Sphynx rats without any fur, and they are often used in laboratories for research. These mice have a short lifespan, half as long as many other mice. Unfortunately, they also have health problems and suffer from respiratory, bacterial, kidney and liver diseases due to a congenitally deficient immune system.


The diet of hairless mice is not much different from that of other rodents. The main difference is that hairless mice need a lot of food and water. Hairless mice require more food and water than other mice because they have a faster metabolism and because they have no fur, they need more calories to keep warm.

Pet hairless rats should be fed rat food and fruits and vegetables. The recommended dietary ratio is 80% mouse chow and 20% fruits and vegetables.

Hairless mice love fruits and vegetables, such as:

  • banana
  • broccoli
  • radish
  • Grape
  • kale
  • kiwi fruit
  • pear
  • Plum
  • spinach
  • sweet potato
  • watermelon
Hairless rat feeds from human finger on white background
A pet hairless rat's diet should consist of pellets, fruits, and vegetables.

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Pet owners should always cut fresh fruits and vegetables into small pieces. Another important tip for keeping these animals as pets is to never leave excess fruit and vegetables in the enclosure for more than a day for hygiene and health reasons. It is also recommended to include supplements in the diet of hairless mice to ensure their skin remains hydrated. An example of a suitable supplement is olive oil.

cage and bedding

Hairless mice need a cage that is at least one foot high and two feet wide. Wire cages work well for hairless mice, but only if you can keep the room warm. Make sure there are no sharp objects in the cage, as these can pierce their skin and injure them. Also, experts recommend that you keep your cabinets warm. Typical cage temperatures for other mice are between 64 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit, so it should be slightly warmer for hairless mice.

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Typically, mice prefer bedding made of paper strips, but you should avoid this medium for hairless mice. The paper strips may irritate their skin and even cause decoupage. Soft, absorbent bedding is ideal for these rodents. You should also change their bedding regularly, as they can become soiled with urine and feces, which can irritate and burn their skin. If your hairless rat's enclosure has toys and hammocks, you must also clean these items regularly.

health problems

Hairless mice have defective immune systems, leading to susceptibility to germs and health problems. These rodents are also often born with health problems and suffer from respiratory, bacterial, kidney and liver diseases. Although hairless mice are bald, they still have hair follicles. Their hair follicles can become clogged, leading to possible pimples and infections. If the hair follicles do become infected, it can be fatal for hairless mice.

Since the hairless rat has no hair, it doesn't have the protection that this element would provide. As a result, these pets can easily scratch and cut their skin. This risk is why it is imperative to purchase an enclosure free of sharp objects. This requirement also applies to their bedding and toys, which must not be of sharp, abrasive nature.

Hairless mouse in a cage
Avoid sharp edges and objects in pet hairless mice's cages, as these can damage their delicate skin.

© Pighurska Valentyna/Shutterstock.com


Hairless Mice – What you need to know is that their average lifespan is not as long as other mice. Most live for two or three years, but hairless mice rarely live to a year. Such a short lifespan is due to the inability of hairless mice to successfully fight off infection.

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featured image

Hairless mouse under small Christmas lights
The defective immune system of hairless mice is what causes them to lose their hair shortly after birth.

© iStock.com/Elena Neveditsyna

about the author

I'm a freelance writer with over eight years of content creation experience. My content writing covers many genres, and I have a business degree. I'm also the proud author of my memoir, My Life as a Liam. This work details the impact of living with an undiagnosed infection such as Rickettsia, such as Lyme disease. By sharing this story, I hope to give others hope and courage to overcome life's challenges. During my downtime, I value spending time with friends and family.

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