Dumbo Rat Pet Facts, Behavior and Care Guide

Updated April 7, 2022
Pet rat dumbo sits on hands

Dumbo rats are a type of fancy rat with an especially adorable set of physical characteristics. These rats make engaging, cuddly pets and, like other types of rats, they are easy to care for.

Characteristics of the Dumbo Rat

The dumbo rat, or dumbo ear rat, is the same species as other types of fancy rats (Rattus norvegicus). They are the same size and come in all the same colors as other rats. Their major difference is their big, round ears.

Other rats have ears that are small and have more of an oval shape, and they sit higher up on a rat's head. The dumbo's ears sit on the lower side of the rat's head and stick out to the side like their namesake, Dumbo the Elephant. Dumbo rats also have a slightly bigger head and slightly smaller jaw than other rats. The recessive genes that produce their ears and other features are the result of a natural mutation.

Dumbo Rat Personality

Another difference that has been noted between dumbo rats and other fancy rats is their temperament. Dumbos are known for being calm, gentle, and very affectionate. They are extremely intelligent and can be taught a wide variety of behaviors and tricks. They are also social animals and need time out of their cage every day. This can be spent doing supervised exploration as well as snuggling with you.

Dumbo rat sitting in fresh flowers

Caring for a Dumbo Rat

Rats are generally easy to care for, provided you have a suitable environment set up for them. They also are a terrific pet if you don't have a lot of room and are popular with apartment and condo dwellers.

Best Cage for a Dumbo Rat

The minimum cage size for a pair of rats is 24 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, and it should have more than one level for the rats to move about the cage. Wire cages are better than tanks, but make sure that the cage does not have a wire floor which can harm a rat's feet. Because rats are highly social, it's recommended to have at least two so they can keep each other company.

You can keep a dumbo rat with another dumbo, preferably one of the same sex, or with any type of rat, since they're all the same species. The cage should have some type of bedding, such as paper, recycled newspaper, or aspen shavings. Avoid using wood or pine shavings, as these can cause health problems. You should also have an area for the rats to hide when they need some peace and quiet.

Feeding a Dumbo Rat

Rats should be fed a pellet diet made specifically for rats. You can supplement their pellets with small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, bland cooked chicken, and scrambled or hard-boiled eggs. There are also treat sticks you can purchase for your rat to be given in moderation. Your rats should also always have access to a water bottle with fresh, clean water.

Curly puppy rat

Dumbo Rat Enrichment and Exercise

Rats love to play and providing them with a variety of toys can keep them healthy and active. The rats will also need lots of appropriate items to chew on like wood blocks and toys. They also love shredding cardboard and paper. Play should also include time with you and many rat owners enjoy clicker training their rats.

You can teach your dumbo rats how to fetch, come when called, and even run through a tiny obstacle course. Rats should also get time out of the cage to get exercise and explore, but always be there to supervise. Rats can easily find the wrong thing to chew, such as electrical cords, if you're not watching them carefully. Avoid using exercise wheels and balls like these can actually cause harm to the rat's feet and tail and make them stressed and anxious.

Dumbo Rat Health

The one big downside to owning a rat is their short lifespan. Like all fancy rats, dumbos live about one to three years on average. They have some health issues that all rat owners should be aware of.

Pet dumbo rat drinking medication
  • Rats tend to suffer from viral and bacterial respiratory problems, which make keeping their cage clean on a regular basis critical for their health.
  • They also can suffer from obesity as they love to eat and it's easy for kind owners to want to give too many treats to an adorable dumbo rat without realizing the severe health consequences.
  • Tumors are a common occurrence in rodents. Handling your rats regularly can help you spot unusual bumps and lumps right away. Mammary gland tumors are very common in females, especially if they are not spayed.
  • Chromodacryorrhea is a condition of the tear glands. It's also known as "red tears" because the rat's tear glands secrete porphyrin, which is a red liquid. The condition is caused by stress and inappropriate living conditions.
  • Dumbo rats can also be afflicted by parasites, such as mites and lice.
  • All fancy rats can suffer from incisor malocclusion, which is a disorder where the incisor teeth are misaligned. This can be painful and lead to weight loss if the rat cannot eat, as well as abscesses in the mouth.

Getting a Dumbo Rat

Since dumbo rats are very popular, it's not hard to find them in the United States. The average price for a dumbo rat is between $10 and $20, though some coat collars and patterns may go for a bit more. You can look for breeders through the Rat Fan Club and the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association websites. You can also look for them in rescue as many shelters take in rats. The Petfinder and Adopt-a-Pet websites are good resources for rats that need homes.

Dumbo Rats Make Excellent Small Pets

If you've decided that a rat is a good pet choice for you, consider bringing home a dumbo rat! They are known for their sweet, docile natures and their adorable faces. Dumbos are often described as the rat so cute that even people terrified of rats will fall in love with them! They're generally easy to care for and can thrive even in a small apartment. Just make sure you have the appropriate setup for them and the time each day to socialize and play with your new rodent best friends!

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Dumbo Rat Pet Facts, Behavior and Care Guide