Dumbo Rat — Care Guide & Info

Dumbo Rat Care Guide Information

What is a dumbo rat? Do they have big floppy ears like Dumbo the Elephant?  What makes this type of rat different from other species? 

 Do they need special care?  All of these questions and more will be answered in this article so continue to find the answers to these questions.

How is a Dumbo Rat Different From Other Rats?

As you may have already guessed, the main difference is their ears.  On a dumbo rat, they are set far lower on their head than usual and circular in shape.  This gives the dumbo rat a sweet innocent look.  There are also some other minor differences.  Some may even be in regards to their temperament.  

1. Skull

A dumbo rat’s skull is usually wide, fairly flat, and often raised at the back.  The pronounced raise at the back gives this rat a hunchbacked appearance.  At rat shows, this might be considered a fault but as far as health problems, it is likely not to cause any.

2. Ears

Their ears appear at the side of their head instead of like regular rats, whose ears appear on the top of their head.  The standard is for their ears to be rounded and large so it can emphasize their unusual position.  Their ears are not all the same size though.  They come in a variety of shapes, with some being tubular, small and/or wrinkled.

  Pet Rat Sneezing - Treatments & Information
baby dumbo rat

3. Intelligence

Although the gene(s) that have caused the mutation of their ears have not been investigated scientifically, they seem to have the same learning ability and intelligence as other rats.  They are quick to learn and generally intelligent.

4. Behavior

The verdict is still out as to whether this rat shows much difference in behavior when compared to regular rats.  Most of the dumbo rats do appear to be placid and easy-going.  This probably has as much to do with genetics as with how they are brought up.  These rats are generally bred to be pets and not snake food.  What this means is basically they are getting a lot of gentle handling from an early age.  Most feeder rats do not get this type of gentle handling.  If rats are looked after properly, most are good natured anyway.

How to Care For Dumbo Rats

There are no specific requirements for taking care of dumbo rats.  Just like all rats, they need to have the following:

  • A generous amount of paper-based bedding and substrate
  • Large cage with multiple levels
  • Nesting box if you are going to breed them
  • Food that is designed to meet their nutritional needs.

As with all rats, they should be kept in single-gender pairs or small groups as they are social animals.  Keeping regular rats with a dumbo rat is okay to do.  If you are introducing adult rats take your time and in the beginning provide separate cages.  This is especially important if you are introducing males.  Also, make sure that you clean their cage once a week and change their water each day.

  Can Pet Rats Eat Hamster Food?
dumbo rat and flowers

Facts About Dumbo Rats

  • They weigh between 0.5 and 1.5 pounds
  • From the tip of their tail to the tip of their nose, they can measure up to 18 inches with the female being a little shorter than the males.
  • The males usually weigh more than the females
  • Their ears stick out sideways from behind their cheeks
  • Their distinctive ears have been linked to a recessive gene called the dmbo gene
  • These type of genes are only expressed as physical characteristics when the rat inherits two copies; one from each parent.  When the rat inherited these two copies, their ears and development of their jaw bones are altered in the womb early.
  • Dumbo rats should have smooth, short hair like most other rats along with their coat being glossy.  The exception to the glossy coat is the Rex version that has more of a coarse coat.
  • They should have a long body and be strong boned
  • The tail should be full of kinks and as long as their body.

Dumbo Rat Colors

The genes of a dumbo rat can be combined with any other gene for color or coat type.  There are many different types being bred.  Some include:

  • Siamese dumbo
  • Blue dumbo
  • Black dumbo
  • Dumbo Rex rat, which has a curly coat

Health Conditions They Might Have

A dumbo rat’s features do not carry any inherent health risks but like other rats, there are some health conditions they might have.

  • Respiratory infections—all rats are vulnerable to these.  You can help with this issue by using bedding that is dust-free, clean their cages regularly, and their living quarters not overcrowded.
  • Obesity—all rats like to share human food and as with humans, too much junk food can cause them to become obese.  It is hard to resist their sweet little faces but a fat rat will get sick and die before they should.
  • Tumors—they are notorious for getting mammary tumors and can often be treated if caught early enough.  If you find any unusual lumps, have your veterinarian check them out.
  Can Pet Rats Eat Tomatoes?


The dumbo rat is considered a “fancy rat” and in some places they are illegal to import as pets.  One such place is Australia.  They are seen as a pest and it is illegal to own them as a domestic pet in the Canadian state of Alberta.  It is a good idea to check to see if you can own a rat in the place where you live before you buy one.

A dumbo rat has the reputation of being very sweet natured and easy to handle but their temperament is never guaranteed.  One reason that their temperament might be different is that their family tree has become more chaotic. Today, their personalities can run the full spectrum from high-spirited to laid-back.  

If you take good care of your dumbo rat, they can live to be two or three years old so make sure you feed them right and clean their cage. 

Was this article helpful?