Dumbo Rats as Pets-17 Questions & Answers (Explained)

Dumbo Rats as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

Dumbo rats are a mutation of the domesticated fancy rat and are instantly recognizable by their large, round ears that sit on the sides of their head instead of up top – much like their lovable Disney namesake, Dumbo the elephant. These adorable rodents are thought to have originated in Asia before becoming popular around the globe, and they are now a favorite pet in households across the US.

So what are Dumbo rats like as pets? Well, you’ll be pleased to know that they are every bit as sweet in their temperament as they are in their appearance. Dumbo rats are a joy to care for thanks to their calm, laid back manner. As hugely sociable creatures, they also love to play with their human owners as much as possible and very rarely bite, making them a safe pet for even young children to handle.

If Dumbo wasn’t a cute enough moniker for them, Dumbo rats are also affectionately nicknamed “teddy bear rats” because of those big ears and sweet, friendly faces! If you’re considering taking a Dumbo rat home with you or just wish to learn a little more about them, look no further. We’ll outline everything there is to know about keeping the docile Dumbo rat from its typical cost and cage setup to common health issues and reproduction.

Costs of Owning a Dumbo Rat

Dumbo rats are a pretty popular pet in the US and fairly affordable, costing roughly between $10 and $20. Dumbo rats with certain coat colors and patterns may fetch a slightly higher price among breeders and the average yearly cost of keeping a Dumbo rat (their food, toys, vet bills, etc) will be around $300.

Dumbo Rat Colors

Dumbo rats come in similar colors to other domesticated rats, including black, brown, gray, white, blue-ish slate gray or a mix of any 2 or 3 of these. They can also have either black or ruby red/ pink eyes and the latter is due to a genetic mutation causing their eyes to have no pigment.

Dumbo Rats Behavior and Temperament

As above-mentioned, Dumbo rats have a very sweet and docile temperament – it’s often noted that even those who are usually terrified of rats are soon won over by the warm and friendly demeanor of a Dumbo rat! They are known to be very affectionate, sociable pets and can be just as happy snuggling up to their owners as they are exploring their surroundings.

They need time outside of their cage for exercise and to explore beyond the confines of their cage, though they must be supervised at all times in case they accidentally chew through an electric cord or run into some other hazard.

Your Dumbo rat can show signs of stress and fidgeting if they are mishandled – i.e. handled roughly by very small children – so kids aged 6 and older are more appropriate handlers, since they can be trusted to be gentle. Handle them properly from a young age and your Dumbo rat will grow to be confident and at ease with almost anyone.

Dumbo Rat Size

From nose to tail, you can expect a healthy Dumbo rat to reach 15 and 22 inches in length and weigh anywhere between 8 and 24 ounces (0.5 lbs – 2 lbs) depending on diet, environment or gender. Male Dumbo rats are typically larger than females.

Dumbo Rat Diet

Before we get into what to feed your Dumbo rat, it is important to realize that rats cannot vomit, so it is crucial to only give them food they can easily digest. So this will mean feeding them a balanced diet consisting of a mix of soybean meal-based dry food (such as pellets) and an assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Since Dumbo rats are omnivores, they can eat a wide variety of plant and animal based-foods, so when you’re not feeding them small portions of apple or carrot, they will also enjoy small pieces of tender cooked chicken and cooked eggs. Of course, make sure they always have access to fresh water in their cage too.

Dumbo rats will love to share human food, but it’s important not to let them eat candies or things that may not agree with their tummies. You can find further guidance and advice on all the right and wrong foods here.

Dumbo Rat Cage Size and Setup

Since Dumbo rats are very sociable animals, they are often adopted in pairs, so our advice with their cage size is the bigger the better! It’s a good idea to invest in a large, good quality cage that provides each of them with the space they need.

To comfortably house two Dumbos, we’d recommend a minimum cage size of 24 x 12 x 12 inches with more than one level to let them exercise, explore, and to have enough space away from one another.

Wire cages are a better choice of housing for them than a tank and you want to make sure the wire cage has a solid floor, not a wire one – the reason for this is that wire floors hurt their feet and lead to a condition known as ‘bumblefoot’.

You should also take care to line both floor levels with paper bedding as opposed to wood shavings as the latter can irritate their paws, eyes, and noses. Also, make sure the bars of their cage are close enough together, as Dumbos are great escape artists!

Are Dumbo Rats Good Pets?

Absolutely. As long as you have the time to care for and socialize with them, Dumbo rats make great pets.

Not only does their sweet and accommodating nature make them a great pet for kids and adults alike, but they are also the type of pet that can thrive in a tiny apartment as much as in a large family home. As long as they have a cage that is spacious enough for them to explore and an hour a day spent outside their cage to get a little extra exercise in, they are remarkably easy-going pets to care for.

How Long Do Dumbo Rats Live for?

Normally, Dumbo rats are expected to live to around 2 years old, but with proper care and good health, they have been known to live up to 4 years of age.

Dumbo Rat Origin

It’s believed that Dumbo rats originated in Asia, though the modern Dumbo rats you’ll find now began to resurface in North West America in the early 1990s. These initial imports brought Siamese Dumbo rats (white with red eyes), and shortly after, a whole rainbow of Dumbos emerged, offering all the possible coat colors and markings we see today.

Are Dumbo Rats Smart?

Yes, Dumbo rats have the same intelligence level and learning ability as other rats. In fact, they are can be taught a variety of tricks and behaviors. Their genetic mutation only affects their appearance, not their intellect – Dumbos are pretty sharp!

Are Dumbo Rats Rare?

No, they are probably the most popular variety of pet rat sold today and are thought of as very common. They are perhaps mistakenly thought of as “rare” because their ears are so different from the standard rat.

Dumbo Rat facts

  • You can teach them tricks – Dumbo rats are highly intelligent and can be taught tricks, such as walking along a tightrope!
  • Their tails are multi-functional – Dumbo rats not only use their tails for balance, but to also communicate with each other and even help regulate their body temperature.
  • They have scent glands on the soles of their feet – they “mark their   territory” with their scent glands so they can retrace their footsteps later!
  • They were once worshipped – As much as modern owners may adore their pet Dumbo rats, ancient rats were quite literally worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians, and Mayans and Romans even considered them to be a sign of good luck.
  • They cannot vomit (or burp) – this is because Dumbo rats, and in fact all rats, don’t possess the esophageal muscle strength to overcome the strong barrier between their stomach and their esophagus.

Do Dumbo Rats Smell?

Despite their reputation as filthy creatures, domesticated rats are actually very clean animals and frequently groom themselves, so they shouldn’t smell. If your Dumbo rat smells, it is probably more likely that their cage is the culprit.

Soiled areas of the cage should be spot cleaned daily and if the bedding in their cage is not cleaned out thoroughly and replaced frequently enough (once a week), it will start to smell bad pretty fast. For reference, your Dumbo rat’s cage – when clean – should smell slightly musky and salty, like peanut butter.

How Long are Dumbo Rats Pregnant for?

The gestation period of female Dumbo rats can vary between 21 and 24 days. If you suspect your pet Dumbo rat is pregnant or simply wish to be informed when the time comes, it’s a good idea to read this guide.

How Many Babies Do Dumbo Rats Have?

Dumbo rats can produce a similar sized brood to other domesticated rat types, which is around 20 babies or “kittens” as baby rats are known as, so a separate spacious cage is a must!

Common Causes of Dumbo Rat Health Problems

Improper cage cleaning – an unclean cage won’t just create an unpleasant odor, it can increase the risk of your Dumbo rat developing a viral or bacterial respiratory infection.

Over-feeding – As tempting as it may be to feed Dumbo rats to their heart’s desire, owners should not over-feed Dumbo rats or supply them with too many treats, as they are prone to obesity.

A one-level cage – If their cage does not have an extra level for them to run around and explore, they won’t be getting the exercise they need to stay healthy and prevent obesity.

Skipping regular vet visits – An obvious but common cause of Dumbo rats developing serious health conditions is if you neglect to take your Dumbo for every vet check-up Sadly, tumors can be quite common in Dumbo rats, but by taking them to be checked and handled as often as possible by a professional, health issues such as this can be identified quickly.

Skipping their flea medication – Without the right flea medication, your Dumbo rat will be attacked by mites and parasites which will lead to itching and ulcers in your Dumbo and because mites feed off the blood of rats, Dumbos can develop anemia. It’s therefore crucial that you consult your local vet about the best type of flea medication for them.

A lack of chewing material – Without something to chew on regularly, Dumbo rats will face the common health issues of all rats – overgrown teeth. To help prevent this, owners are normally encouraged to leave hard dog biscuits or pieces of untreated wood in their cage to help them wear their teeth down.

Along with regular vet visits and proper cage cleaning, one of the best ways to safeguard yourself against getting a Dumbo rat with a multitude of health issues is to buy from a trusted and well-researched breeder or adoption shelter. Pet store Dumbo babies have a tendency to be sickly or are likely to suffer from health complications in the future due to being reared in a poor quality environment.

Dumbo Rats vs Fancy Rats

Dumbo RatsFancy Rats
TemperamentSweet, docile, snuggly Gentle, playful
AppearanceLarge head, small jaw with large round ears positioned at the side of the headSmall, slender head with small ears on top of the head
Size15 to 22 inches (nose to tail)14 to 18 inches long
Weight 0.5 to 2 lbs 0.7 to 1 lb
ColorsWhite, Brown, Black, Gray, Blue-ish/Slate GrayWhite, Brown, Black, Blue-ish/Slate Gray
Intelligence Very intelligent Very intelligent
Very intelligentVery intelligent
Cost$10 to $20$10 to $20
Good with kidsYesYes

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