What is the Difference Between Male and Female Pet Rats?
So you’ve finally made up your mind and have decided that you are going to get a pet rat. While that is a great decision on your part, you still have a very big decision to make, that decision being whether or not you are going to get a male rat or a female rat? When it comes down to it, it really is going to be a matter of preference, meaning that it is ultimately going to be your choice. However, you must keep in mind that both male rats and female rats are both going to have their star qualities. With that being said, both male and female rats are both going to have their own sets of pros and cons that you will need to take into consideration before you actually get one, this process is only going to help you enjoy your final rat gender decision that much more. Here is everything that you need to know about male and female rats, as well as how to make sure you choose to get the one that is right for you.
Is it a Male or Female?
Many people who have pet rats are going to have purchased them from a pet store of some kind, meaning that it is going to be in your best interest to know who to tell the difference between a male and female rat. While the pet store is going to do their best to decide, at the end of the day, there is going to be a very good chance that they are just plain wrong. So here is what you should be looking for when you are trying to identify whether or not your rat is a male or female. And don’t worry, it is not going to be as hard as you may think.
If you are looking at a male rat, you will notice that they have what is called an external penile nub, which will be followed by a notable patch of space, finally followed by their scrotal sac. All of this is going to be before the anus. The male rat babies are going to mature, having their testicles descend to fill in this space as they do. This will happen when the rat is anywhere between the ages of 2 and 4 weeks. When they do come in, they are going to be rather large when compared to their overall size, which just means that you will have a hard time missing them.
Other than the reproductive organs of the rat, you will also notice that the males will have some mammary tissue, most males are not going to normally have any nipples. If you are getting a very young rat baby, this is going to be one of the telling signs that the rat is a male, as their fur will not have begun to thicken yet.
Female rats are going to have a much smaller nub (which is going to be the urethral opening), which will sit right above their vagina. After that, there will be a short empty space and then their anus cavity. Just know that most female rat’s vagina is going to be closed until they reach around 5 to 6 weeks old. On top of that, female rats are also going to have two very distinctive rows of nipples (making a total of 12 in all). These nipples are going to be very visible during the first few weeks of their life. Some female rats even keep their visible nipples after they have grown into adulthood.
While it should be more than easy for you to distinguish between the male and the female rat if you follow the tips that have been mentioned above, you do need to know that there are going to be times when a male rat may not have either testicle (or maybe only one testicle) that has descended into their scrotal sac. It is also going to be possible that you come across a rat that has ambiguous sex organs, meaning that they are going to have both the male and female sexual organs. This would make your rat both a male and a female, as well as make the decision on which sex you should choose much easier.
A responsible pet store selling rats or breeder will know that juvenile rats are able to mate and reproduce from about 5 weeks of age. This means that if the pet shop or breeder is a responsible one, they will separate the males and the females from each other before they get to this age.
Physical Differences Between Males and Females
Now that you can tell male and female rats apart from their reproductive organs, there are also going to be some general differences in regard to the shape and size of their body. An adult pet rat is normally going to be larger than that of a wild rat, or even any laboratory strain of rat as well. With that being said, you must keep in mind that even pet rats are going to have a variance within their size and weight, all of this depending upon their breeding, nutrition, and selection. The typical pet rat is going to be anywhere between about 9 inches and 11 inches in total body length, their tail being as long as an additional 9 inches.
The adult male pet rat is normally going to weight from the 300 to 800-gram range, while the female pet rats are going to be between 250 to 500-grams. However, it is not uncommon to see some fancy rats that grow to be even larger than this. Either way, you can see that the variance in size of pet rats is going to be extremely large, especially if you try to compare the male rats with the female ones.
To sum it up, male pet rats are going to be broader, larger, and much heavier than the female pet rat, as well as have a much thicker tail and a much coarser coat. They are going to have broader shoulders and heads, often times being described as a ‘brick-like’ type of rodent when they are looked at from above.
The females, on the other hand, are going to be considered ‘racy’, which means that they will be narrower and have more of a streamline to them. Their coat will be much shorter, but shinier as well. They also tend to be much smaller than the males and are not going to be as heavy either. But you must keep in mind that a large female rat can very easily be larger than a small male rat.
Health Differences of Male and Female Rats
When it comes to the health differences that you may have to deal with in male and female rats, there are actually going to be many different ones that can affect your rat you no matter what sex they may be. However, female rats are going to be much more likely to contract pituitary and mammary tumors and are even able to get different diseases that will affect their ovaries and uterus as well.
Male rats are able to get pituitary and mammary tumors as well, however, these types of illnesses are only going to occur in less than 50 percent of the male rat population. With that being said, male rats are going to be much more prone to having kidney failure, as well as the hind leg weakness that is going to come along with it.
When it comes to making the decision to get a pet rat, it is going to be something that can ultimately be a very rewarding experience for you and anyone else involved. However, there is going to be a difference between the males and the females that are available to you, so be sure that you are aware of what each one’s pros and cons are before you make your final decision on which one you are going to get. The guide outlined above is going to be a great starting point for you to gain the knowledge that you should have prior to actually getting your pet rat, no matter if they are male or female.
On a side note, be sure that you find a veterinarian in your local area that is familiar with rats before you actually get one. The last thing that you want to happen is for there to be some type of emergency where you need the knowledge of a veterinarian and there is not one in your area that is knowledgeable in rats. While you may think that it is going to be as easy as picking up the phone and calling the first veterinarian that you come across online or in the phone book, you are going to be surprised to find that it is actually not that easy. Not all vets are going to be trained in rats, so make sure you ask before you decide to make them your vet.