Harley Rats: Discover the Long-haired Rat Variant (With Pictures!)

Pet rats can have many different defining characteristics. Some have no tail, others have no hair, and yet others have strange ears. However, one thing that they all have in common is that they do not have long hair. Nevertheless, there is one exception to this rule: The Harley Rat.

harley rats: discover the long-haired rat type

Harley rats are characterized by their long-haired coat, which makes them unique from all other rat types. These rats are relatively unknown amongst the general public, and many people do not even know that they exist. To change that, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about the Harley Rat!


Harley Rat fact sheet

NameHarley Rat
BreedRattus Norvegicus (Fancy rat)
CoatLong
Experience requiredBeginner-friendly
Lifespan2 years
TemperamentUsually affectionate, social, curious, and intelligent. Males can sometimes be aggressive.
DietOmnivorous, 80% pellets, 20% fruits, and vegetables with the occasional piece of meat, fish, seed, or nut as a treat.
Price $40 to $50

What is a Harley Rat?

image credit: @whitewolfcritters

Harley rats are a long-haired variant of the Rattus Norvegicus. Unlike other rat types, they have long hair. Their long hair is the result of a genetic mutation.

The first Harley rat was born in a pet shop in 2002, where it was discovered by the Old Fellows Rattery. They noticed that a rat they saw in a pet store had a long coat, something they’d never seen before, and decided to adopt her. When they brought her home, they named her Harley.

The rat was pregnant when they bought her, but none of the pups of the initial litter inherited her long-haired coat. After that, the breeders bred Harley with her son which resulted in another litter. This litter consisted of 5 pups, of which 4 inherited Harley’s long-haired coat.

Currently, these rats are not officially standardized by the AFRMA.

Harley rats normally have a straight coat but it’s possible to breed a Harley Rat with a Rex Rat to create a long-haired, curly-coated rat.

Are Harley Rats a distinct breed?

Harley rats are not a distinct breed. All pet rats are Fancy Rats, which is the Rattus Norvegicus breed. While there are many different types of rats, such as the hairless rat and the tailless rat, they’re all part of the same breed.

The interesting thing about rat varieties is that it’s possible for a rat to have traits from multiple different types. For instance, it’s very possible to cross a dumbo rat with a rex rat and then cross the offspring with a Harley rat to create a rat that has dumbo ears and a long, curly coat!

Harley Rat temperament

Harley Rat Traits
  • ✔️Affectionate
  • ✔️ Smart
  • ✔️ Intelligent
  • ✔️ Clean
  • ✔️ Social
  • ❌ Some are aggressive

Rats are highly social, intelligent, affectionate, and inquisitive creatures. In the wild, they live in groups called “mischiefs”. Because they are so social, it’s absolutely essential that you do not let your rat live in solitude. No matter how much love and affection you think you can give them, they need a rat buddy to keep them company.

In addition, because they’re so intelligent they need plenty of mental stimulation: games, toys, and puzzles are great ways to keep your rat entertained. If you neglect their mental stimulation it can result in unwanted behavior.

While most rats are very affectionate and kind, there is sometimes a problem with long-haired rats that causes some of the males to be aggressive. This problem is not present in every long-haired rat, it happens in about 1 male rat in every other litter. When adopting a Harley rat, always check for aggressive behavior and ask your breeder about it.

Considering that they were only discovered in 2002, Harley rats are still very new. Breeders are still actively developing the lines to make aggressive behavior less common.

Caring for a Harley rat

Harley rats are relatively easy to care for. They require much of the same care that other rat variants do. However, their long coat and the mutation that causes it does mean that some things are a bit different.

Housing 🏡

As previously mentioned, it’s crucial that you always house rats in pairs of at least 2. They don’t need to be 2 Harley rats, they get along just fine with other rat types as well! The minimum cage size for a pair of rats is 30” x 15” x 20”. However, there really is no such thing as a cage that’s too big. The bigger the cage, the better.

Rats like to climb, so bar spacing is important. For rats, bar spacing of around 0.5 inches is recommended. This allows them to climb on the bars of their cage while not allowing them to escape.

Cage essentials:

Of course, no rat can thrive in an empty cage. The essential components that every rat needs in its habitat are these:

Cage essentials 🏠
  • Exercise Wheel
  • Food Bowl
  • Water bottle
  • Houses or huts
  • Tunnels
  • Ladders

To learn more about what toys to provide for your rat, check out the best rat toys.

They also need bedding, aspen shavings, shredded paper, or commercial bedding are often used and work well. They need a layer of about an inch thick in their cage to allow them to burrow.

Diet 🥕 

The diet of long-haired rats is the same as that of their short-haired counterparts. They’re omnivores and can eat a large variety of different foods. The optimal diet for your pet rat consists of 80% pellets and 20% fresh fruits and veggies with the occasional piece of meat, fish, nuts, or dairy added as a treat.

Here are some foods that Harley rats absolutely love:

Foods that rats enjoy eating 🍎
  • Vegetables: Kale, bell peppers, celery, endive, tomatoes, cucumber
  • Fruits: Cherries, apples, bananas, apricots, melon, blueberries
  • Meat: Chicken, turkey, low-fat beef
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, cashews
  • Others: Unsweetened yogurt, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, the occasional piece of bread

On the other hand, while rats are notorious for being able to eat a large variety of foods, there are some foods that you absolutely must avoid giving to a Harley Rat (or any rat for that matter!):

☠️ Foods to avoid feeding
  • Chocolate
  • Onion
  • Rhubarb
  • Beets
  • Green parts of potatoes or tomatoes (leaves, stalks, etc)
  • Dried corn
  • Raw beans

Grooming ✂️

You might think that due to their long coat the Harley rat is more difficult to groom. Luckily, this is not the case. Rats are very clean animals that do most of the grooming themselves. They spend many hours every day cleaning themselves and their cage mates.

Because of this, there’s little that you have to do grooming-wise. The best thing you can do to keep them clean is to provide them with a clean environment. This means keeping their cage as clean as possible. Completely clean the cage twice a week to ensure that your rats have a clean and fresh habitat.

Harley Rat lifespan

The lifespan of Harleys is the same as that of other rat types: around 2 years. Of course, the lifespan of your rat will highly depend on genetics, luck, and the level of care they receive. Feeding your Harley a diet consisting of high-quality food and making sure that they get a vet checkup every year goes a long way in ensuring that they live as long as possible.

Harley rat concerns

Harley rats are generally healthy and strong. However, there are a few problems to keep an eye out for:

  1. Protein sensitivities. There are some reports of Harley rats that were exported to South Africa in 2006 that had protein sensitivities. They had to be kept of less than 8% protein.
  2. Skin issues. Harleys are more prone to certain skin issues such as scabs and bald spots. It’s believed that this is because of a protein allergy.
  3. Aggression. As previously mentioned, some male Harleys have heightened aggression levels. This is not all that common and breeders are doing their best to breed this behavior out of their lines, but it can happen sometimes.

Harley Rat Price 💰

On average, expect to spend around $40 to $50 for a Harley Rat. This does of course depend on the breeder you buy from, your location, and the line of the rat. Also, keep in mind that you should always buy at least 2 rats because they need a companion. In fact, some breeders don’t even sell singular rats! So, for 2 long-haired rats, expect to spend $80 to $100.

Also, while buying a rat itself is relatively cheap, you also have to take into account the monthly costs for food, bedding, and other essentials which can easily be around $50 per month.

You can buy long-haired rats from breeders or pet shops, but buying from a breeder is recommended. They usually treat the rats much better and have better lines for sale that are in stronger health. Buying from a good breeder might seem more expensive, but in the long term, it usually saves money on vet bills. Good breeders to start your search for a Harley Rat include OnceUponAMischief and Camarattery.


Final words

So, there you have it, everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Harley Rat! These adorable, long-haired critters are great companions for first-time as well as experienced rat owners

You do have to make sure that the rat you buy does not have aggression problems, but as long as that’s not the case you can’t go wrong buying one of these furry animals. They’re great animals that are highly affectionate, intelligent, and social. On top of that, their long-haired coat sets them apart from the rest of the mischief. What’s not to love?

Jesse A.