Pink-Eyed Rat

pink-eyed rat

Pink-eyed rats are a favorite among pet owners. Not only are they remarkable to look at, but they’re also quite intelligent and entertaining. That’s why they’re considered one of the fancy rat breeds and have become an increasingly popular option among rodent lovers. 

So, if you’re thinking of getting a pink-eyed rat, you should first know all there is to know about it. For instance, why does this rat have pink eyes? And does it have any unique characteristics? Keep reading to find out. 

What Is a Pink-Eyed Rat?

A pink-eyed rat is from a strain of rats with the albino gene mutation. As such, it has no melanin pigment in its body, which causes it to have pure white fur and pink eyes. That being so, pink-eyed rats are also called albino rats or Pink-Eyed Whites (PEWs for short).

How Did the Pink-Eyed Rat Come About?

Like all other domestic rats, Pink-eyed rats are a descendant of the Norway rat, aka Rattus norvegicus. 

Essentially, albino rats arose from wild brown rats due to a mutation of the gene that controls the distribution and amount of melanin pigment. This mutation was first observed and documented in 1553 by Swiss naturalist Conrad Gesner who discovered a pair of those rats in a cemetery.

So, we can deduce that pink-eyed rats had originally lived in the wild with other rats. However, their white fur made them easy prey, as they were much more easily noticeable than dark rats. Accordingly, most pink-eyed rats weren’t able to survive in the wild. 

It wasn’t until the 1700s that wild albino rats were adopted as pets and kept safe in enclosed homes. From then on, humans have intentionally cultivated this trait in rats, as they made for beautiful, docile, and friendly pets. As a matter of fact, rat albinism was the first genetic mutation that humans tried to breed in domesticated animals.

Are Pink-Eyed Rats Active?

Quite active, really. That’s one of the reasons they’re so beloved by pet lovers and, unfortunately, regularly used as lab rats. 

That’s why pink-eyed rats need to be let out of their cages for at least an hour a day. You should also try to make a stimulating environment for them. For example, place tubes, old pipes, or toilet paper rolls for the rats to run through. Also, add a place for them to hide if they ever feel the need to.

Still, just because these rats are so active doesn’t mean they don’t like their fair share of sleep. Surprisingly, pink-eyed rats can spend three-quarters of the daytime sleeping. That’s because rats are chiefly nocturnal, so they truly come to life when the night comes. So, during the day, you’ll mostly be looking at their cuddly, sleeping faces. 

How to Care for a Pink-Eyed Rat

You don’t have to do much to take care of a pink-eyed rat. Just provide it with a spacious wire cage that measures a minimum of 20″ x 20″ x 20″. If you’re planning to add a new rat after a while, expand the original space by at least 20%.

Of course, the bigger and taller the cage, the better. This is to provide your rat with the most amount of space to run, climb, and explore. Just make sure to get solid cage floors and cover them with proper bedding. 

Stay away from wood shavings and sawdust as they can cause respiratory issues for the rat. Instead, go for shredded paper, hey, or dust-free commercial bedding, and make sure to create a place for your rat to nest.

How Often Should You Clean a Pink-Eyed Rat’s Cage?

Generally, you should clean and change the bedding of your rat’s cage at least once a week. But, of course, if you find a mess at any time before cleaning time comes, then make sure to clean it and add some new bedding if needed.

Why Are a Pink-Eyed Rat’s Eyes Pink?

Interestingly, the eyes of pink-eyed rats aren’t even pink. They’re actually translucent due to the lack of pigmentation. Accordingly, they show through the color of the blood vessels around them, making them appear pink. 

Now, these eyes are rather sensitive to bright lights since they don’t contain any dark pigment for protection. That’s why pink-eyed rats can experience a phenomenon known as dazzling, where sudden brightness can temporarily impair their vision. So, take care not to blind your pink-eyed rat by shining a flashlight into its eyes. 

Do Pink-Eyed Rats Bleed From Their Eyes?

It’s actually a myth that pink-eyed rats bleed from their eyes. However, there’s a reason this myth came about.

Why Do Pink-Eyed Rats Look as if They’re Crying Blood?

Basically, pink-eyed rats have a gland around their eyes called the Harder’s gland. This gland secretes a compound called porphyrin, which gives oxygenated blood its red color and is thought to protect the eyes from harsh lights. 

So, when a rat cries, porphyrin occasionally gets mixed in with its tears, making it look as if it’s crying tears of blood.

Are Pink-Eyed Rats Blind?

While they’re not completely blind, as many people assume, pink-eyed rats don’t have the best eyesight. In fact, pink-eyed rats have a harder time seeing than black and ruby-eyed rats.

How Do Pink-Eyed Rats Compensate for Their Poor Eyesight?

Pink-eyed rats throw their weight behind their other senses as an adaptation to their poor sight. They depend on their senses of smell, hearing, and touch to know what’s happening around them. 

That explains why we tend to see pink-eyed rats sticking close to walls. They’re basically using their whiskers to feel and understand their environment.

Do Pink-Eyed Rats Sway Back and Forth?

The rocking or swaying movements of pink-eyed rats is mainly attributed to their poor eyesight. This action enables them to detect any movement in their surroundings. 

How Long Do Pink-Eyed Rats Live?

Typically, healthy pink-eyed rats can live for 2-3 years, though some can live up to 5. 

That makes pink-eyed rats the perfect pet for those afraid of long commitments, yet you’ll still have ample time to enjoy and bond with your rat.

In Conclusion, Do Pink-Eyed Rats Make for Good Pets?

Absolutely. Pink-eyed rats are extremely intelligent and entertaining pets. They’re also adorable and extremely easy to take care of. 

So, if you’re thinking of getting yourself a fluffy white buddy, don’t hesitate to do so. You’ll have immeasurable fun with your pink-eyed rat, and you won’t be exhausted taking care of it as you would with other pets.