Tailless Rat: Facts, Care, Concerns, Important Info, Pictures

Name Tailless Rat (Manx Rat)
Breed Rattus Norvegicus (Fancy Rat)

Defining feature

Lack of tail due to genetic mutation
Temperament Intelligent, affectionate, curious, social, playful
Lifespan 18 to 36 months
Colors Any colors, most common: Black, Blue, Siamese, Champagne, and Agouti
Weight 450-650 grams for males, 350-450 grams for females

The tailless rat, also known as the Manx rat, is one of the most easily identifiable rat types in the world. As their name suggests, this breed does not have a tail, which gives them a very distinct appearance. If you’re considering getting a tailless rat as a pet you might be full of questions, such as why do these rats not have a tail, or whether the fact that they do not have a tail affects their lifespan and health. Or perhaps you’re wondering if the Manx rat is a distinct breed?

Today, we’re going to put this rat into the spotlight and take a closer look at all its unique features to answer all your questions and give you the most complete overview possible of the Manx rat.

manx rat

What is a tailless rat?

The tailless rat is a type of rat that does not have a tail. The fact that they do not have a tail is a result of a genetic mutation. This genetic mutation first happened in a U.S. laboratory in the 1920s. The researchers then wanted to find out if they could breed these tailless rats to see if it was possible to create more of them. This proved to be possible, but difficult. Later on, pet rat breeders took an interest in this mutation and selected for this gene in order to breed more tailless rats for the pet market.

The tailless rat can appear in any coloration but is most commonly seen in Black, Blue, Siamese, Champagne, and Agouti. They typically have a cobbier body and will have a rounded rump.

It’s important to note that the tailless rat is not a distinct breed. It’s a Rattus Norvegicus, the same breed as all other pet rats. It simply has a genetic mutation that prevents its tail from growing. Rats can have several types of genetic mutations at the same time, which, for instance, makes it possible for your rat to be both tailless and a dumbo at the same time.

tailless rat vs regular rat
The skeleton of a regular rat (left) compared with that of a tailless rat (right)

To get a good idea of what tailless rats look like, check out this video:

 

Ethical concerns

Some people like rats and would love to have one as a pet, but are freaked out about the tails. They consider the tail to be a weird, hairless, slimy-looking appendage, and might thus consider buying a tailless rat instead. In truth, the rat’s tail is not “gross” or slimy at all and actually kind of feels like our own skin.

Nevertheless, if you’re still interested in buying a tailless rat, there are some ethical and health concerns that you need to take into consideration. The tail of rats is not just for show. As I’ve talked about in my post about rat tails, their tail has a myriad of functions. For one, it helps regulate their body temperature. It also helps them with their balance and they use it in communication.

Furthermore, since the gene that causes the lack of a tail is a genetic defect there’s a much higher chance of other genetic defects such as leg and spine problems, crooked legs, missing limbs, and many other defects occurring. Because of this, I generally do not recommend that you get a tailless rat. By buying a tailless rat you’re actively supporting the continuation of a genetic defect.

Personality

picture of a tailless rat

Tailless rats are affectionate, smart, curious, and playful, just like other rat types. They’re quite easy to train and tame, and are capable of learning advanced tricks such as solving puzzles, running through mazes, and performing complex tasks.

They’re also capable of forming strong, life-long bonds with their owners. Furthermore, rats are social animals, so it’s recommended that you get at least two rats. Rats do not do well in solitude and will get depressed if kept alone. 

Tailless rat lifespan

The lifespan of the tailless rat is generally the same as that of other rat types, around 18 to 36 months, but might be slightly shorter due to the aforementioned genetic defects.

Of course, the lifespan of your rat depends a lot on the quality of care your rat receives. If you give your rat a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and enough mental stimulation they can get much older than 36 months. The oldest rat in history was a rat called Rodney that lived for over 7 years!

Care

Caring for tailless rats is not very different from caring for other rat types. The most important difference is that tailless rats are more sensitive to high temperatures. The rat’s tail is an important tool in controlling their body temperature. Since tailless rats do not have a tail it means that they’re less capable of cooling themselves down in warm temperatures. Because of this, it’s important that you ensure that you do not place your tailless rat’s cage in the sun or other warm places.

Diet

Tailless rats are omnivores, meaning that they can eat meat as well as plants. Rats can eat a large variety of different foods. The optimal diet for your tailless rat consists of 80% pellets and 20% fresh fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, apples (without the seeds!), kale, or broccoli. You can also feed your rat some meat, nuts, or seeds as a treat occasionally.

For a complete list of all the fruits and veggies that are safe for your rat to eat, check out my rat nutrition guide.

They also need access to fresh water at all times. Make sure to clean their water bottle frequently.

Housing

When it comes to housing your tailless rats a bigger cage is always better. Rats love to run and climb around and the more space they have available to do so, the better.

The minimum recommended size for two rats is 28 in x 14 in x 17 in. Also make sure that the bars are not too far apart but also not too close together: uphold a maximum bar distance of half an inch (around 1 cm) to ensure that they cannot escape.

Tailless rat price

Tailless rats are generally slightly more expensive than other rat types because they’re more difficult to breed. Buying one from a good breeder can easily cost over $100. When you’re buying a tailless rat it’s important to buy one from a reputable breeder. I can recommend Camarattery, they sometimes have tailless rats for sale, but you might also be able to find a local breeder in your area.

There are stories of breeders and pet shops that cut the tails off regular rats and sell them as tailless rats. This is obviously something you’d want to avoid which is why it’s so important that you choose a reputable breeder.

If you can not find one at a breeder, you can try your luck at a shelter to see if there’s one available for adoption.

You also have to keep in mind that buying the rat itself is not the only cost associated with owning a tailless rat. There are monthly food and care costs of around $50 a month that you have to take into consideration.

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