Dumbo Rats: Care, Pictures, Behavior, Lifespan, Price & More

Dumbo rats are easily recognizable. Even if you’ve never seen a dumbo rat before and I show you a lineup of fancy rats and ask you to pick out the dumbo I’m fairly confident that you could do so without too much trouble. As you might’ve guessed from their name, their most distinctive feature is their large ears. Because of these ears, they resemble the fictional Disney character Dumbo The Flying Elephant, which is where their name comes from.

However, there’s much more to these intelligent rodents than just their large ears and cute appearance! In this post, I’m going to put this rat in the spotlight and discover everything there is to know about these cute critters. I’ll discuss their lifespan, whether they make good pets, how to care for them, their behavior, how much they cost, and much more! Keep reading and before you know it, you’ll be an expert in all things Dumbo, let’s get into it.

History of the Dumbo Rat

dumbo rat photo

The dumbo rat is believed to have its origins in Northern California. The first of its kind is believed to have been born at a rattery in 1991 as a spontaneous mutation. Ever since the first dumbo was born, it’s been used for breeding to create more dumbo rats. It’s very likely that every dumbo rat currently in existence descends from this one singular rat.

Since the first dumbo was the only one of its kind, it had to be bred with a rat with regular ears. Because the gene that gives the rat its distinctive ear shape is recessive, the first litter did not show the same ears as the dumbo parent but instead had regular rat ears. Nevertheless, while they did not have the same ears, they did carry the gene responsible for the big ears!

Since the gene is recessive, the only way to create more dumbos is by breeding two rats that carry the gene. Therefore, it’s very likely that one of the babies was bred with the parent. Since both the baby and the parent carried the dumbo gene, but only the parent was a true dumbo, about a quarter of the litter did have the dumbo ears! From there, the breeding process was quite simple – breed dumbos with one another, and you’re guaranteed to make more of them.

Dumbo rat vs fancy rat

dumbo rat vs fancy rat
As you can see, the dumbo (left) has much larger ears than the regular fancy rat (right)

Since dumbo rats have such a unique appearance you might think that they’re a different breed from regular pet rats, but that’s not entirely true. All pet rats are fancy rats and are part of the Rattus Norvegicus (brown rat) breed.

However, while they’re part of the same breed, there are quite a few differences between the regular fancy rat and the dumbo rat. First of all, the ears. The easiest way to tell whether or not a rat is a dumbo is by taking a look at its ears. If they’re large, stand further away from the head, and are located more towards the side of the head than on the top, then it’s a dumbo.

Secondly, they have different head shapes. The dumbo’s head is slightly larger than that of other rats, while also being flatter, wider, and raised at the back. They also have a slightly smaller jaw.

There are also slight differences in behavior, more on that in the next section.

Dumbo Rat behavior

Don’t let the name fool you, while they’re called “dumbo”, these rats are anything but dumb. Just like other types of rats, dumbos are highly intelligent. They can learn all kinds of tricks and you can even play games with them by using certain toys.

Dumbo rats are commonly described as sweet, docile, affectionate, and easy-going, making them very easy to bond with. There’s some debate whether or not there are inherent behavioral differences between dumbos and other rats. Some people claim that dumbos are naturally sweeter than other rats. On the other hand, there are people who claim that dumbos have the same nature as other rats, but that they simply get treated with more care and love and that’s why they’re more docile and affectionate. Dumbos are only bred as pets, whereas other rats are sometimes bred food for snakes or other reptiles which means that they do not always receive the same amount of care and love.

Dumbo rat lifespan

The one big downside of having a rat as a pet is that they’re not with you for very long. Whereas other pets can live for over a decade, pet rats do not live very long and the dumbo’s large ears do not help it live any longer than its regular counterpart.

They have an average lifespan of one to three years. You can extend their lifespan by giving them proper care, a good diet, good hygiene, and a good place to live. Nevertheless, no matter how well you care for your dumbo, they will never grow much older than their maximum lifespan – it’s just their nature.

Dumbo rat care

Caring for a dumbo rat is not much different than caring for any other rat. They do not have any special requirements because they’re the same breed so everything that applies to caring for regular rats applies to dumbo rats as well. I’ve written a huge article that teaches you everything you need to know about caring for pet rats so I recommend reading that if you’re looking to adopt a dumbo into your home. To make things easier, I will list the most important aspects of caring for dumbo rats here as well.

Dumbo Rat Diet

Just like other types of rats, Dumbo rats are omnivores, meaning that they can eat meat and plant-based foods.

The diet of the dumbo rat is no different from that of other rats. The majority of their food intake should be commercial pellets because they’re the most nutritionally complete food available for rats, with a smaller amount of their diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables.

A good rule of thumb is that 80% of their food intake should be pellets, with the remaining 20% being fresh fruits and veggies. You can also feed them the occasional piece of meat, chicken, or fish.

Rats can eat many different types of food, but there are things that are toxic to them. Since they are unable to throw up, it’s very important that you do your research before you feed them any kind of food, otherwise, if you feed them the wrong food, it can have disastrous consequences. You can find a complete list of foods that are safe and dangerous for rats to eat here.

Dumbo Rat Cage

The minimum cage size for any kind of rat, including the dumbo, is 2 cubic feet of space per rat, which is a cage of about 25 inches in length, 12 inches in width, and 14 inches in height. However, since rats are very social animals and do not do very well if you keep them alone, it’s recommended to get at least a pair of rats. Therefore, you should double the aforementioned size. Keep in mind that the size mentioned is the absolute minimum cage size – when in doubt, a bigger cage is always better!

Dumbo rats, just like any kind of rat, enjoy having a lot of space available to run and play around so a bigger cage means a happier rat.

Another important thing to keep in mind when selecting a cage for your dumbo rat is bar spacing. The bar spacing should be around 0.5 inches – small enough to prevent rats from escaping – big enough for your rats to be able to climb on it without injuring themselves.

Dumbo rats playtime and exercise

Dumbo rats are super intelligent and because of that, they need a lot of mental stimulation to prevent them from getting bored. They also have a lot of energy, so will need a decent amount of exercise to stay in shape and release some of that pent-up energy.

The best way to stimulate them, both mentally and physically, is by taking them out of their cage and playing with them. When you do take them out of their cage, make sure that you keep an eye on them – rats have a tendency to chew on things and it can happen that they chew on the wrong things such as electrical cords. You can also build mazes for them, teach them tricks, and some rats can even play fetch. All these things are great ways to bond with your rat and to keep them happy.

When you’re not around to play with them, toys are a great way to keep them occupied. There are many different types of toys available for pet rats, ranging from exercise wheels to hammocks, to tunnels. Click here to find my top 7 favorite rat toys.

Another important thing to note is that rats are rodents and because of that, their teeth never stop growing. Therefore, it’s absolutely essential that they have chewing toys available to grind down their teeth. If they’re unable to grind down their teeth this can lead to problems such as malocclusion.

Dumbo rat size

picture of a baby dumbo rat

Dumbo rats are around 15 to 22 inches from the tip of their tail to the tip of their nose and weigh around 1.5 pounds. They grow from baby to adult in 4 to 6 months. Males are usually larger than females.

Dumbo rat price – are they more expensive?

Just like other rats, dumbos are not very expensive. They’re very popular and because of that, many breeders have them available. On average, a dumbo rat will cost around $10 to $20.

However, you have to keep in mind that there are many recurring costs associated with owning a Dumbo Rat – buying the rat itself is very cheap – but you’ll have to spend a decent amount of money every month on toys, food, and potentially vet bills. On average, expect to spend around $57.50 a month to take good care of your rats. You can find a complete breakdown of how much a pet rat costs every month here.

Dumbo rats for sale

Finding a dumbo rat for sale is not very difficult. As I’ve said, they’re for sale at many breeders. To find a breeder take a look at the websites of the Rat Fan Club or the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association.

They’re also available quite frequently in shelters. You can visit one in person to ask if they have a dumbo available or look through websites such as Petfinder.

Are dumbo rats good pets?

I’ve said it many times in the past, and I’ll keep saying it: Rats are some of the best pets you can get. They’re intelligent, affectionate, playful, and generally a great pet to spend time with. On top of that, dumbo rats have that added cute factor because of their large ears.

They’re also very small and do not take up a lot of space, making them perfect for people who live in the city or in an apartment.

Overall, dumbo rats are excellent pets and I’d highly recommend them to anyone who wants a small, sweet, and intelligent animal to take care of. They’re many people’s favorite type of rat, and I’m inclined to agree with them!

ThePetFaq Team