Male Vs Female Rats – Which Make Better Pets?

Male Vs Female Rats – Which Makes Better Pets?

Deciding on getting a pet of any kind is always a big deal. Deciding whether to get a male or female animal can be difficult, so it’s best to research it first and make an informed choice that will suit you, your family and your general life best.

Like with humans, male and female animals also have completely different traits, sometimes making them seem like the polar opposites! It’s the same with pet rats. While you might not have an option to choose the sex of your pet rat if you are buying them from a pet store (most often they will only have a group of males or females available at any given time, as both sexes can’t be kept together), it’s good to know the differences between male (called “bucks”) and female rats (“does”).


First thing you can notice when you look at two rats of opposite sex, it’s their appearance. Bucks are usually much bigger than does and can grow twice the size of a small female! As it’s often in life, ladies have smoother, shinier hair (fur) that’s well kept and therefore is more pleasant to the touch. Boy’s coat is a bit rougher, brittler and often unkempt but with a well balanced diet, it still can be really soft and shiny.

Male Or Female?

There’s various ways to tell the boy and girl rats apart when it comes to their physical appearance, even as babies!

Experienced breeders can tell the difference between sexes straight after birth (even though all babies look like pink beans to the oblivious eye). First thing they look for to determine baby rat’s gender is the distance between their anus and urethra (pee hole). In female rats they will be positioned much closer together and in males wider apart.

But if you go to the pet store and want to make sure you are getting rats of the same sex, there’s two simple things you can look for – testicles and nipples! It might seem a bit intrusive and embarrassing but you really cannot miss the male’s “package”! Their testicles are very prominent and will be located underneath their tail. And if you really unsure, check for nipples on their bellies. Only female rats have them! So there, now you know!

Rat Brothers Cuddling
Source: @bobandmarleyratties Instagram


The biggest difference between bucks and does is the way they behave. Even though there might be some exceptions to the general rule, most of the time the “stereotypes” will apply. Male rats are very chilled, laid back and… Lazy! Yes, they will sleep most of the day, even snooze on your lap in front of the telly. They enjoy human contact, cuddles, snuggles, as well as long stroking sessions, making them the best pets if you love to interact with your animal.

Bucks are also more tolerant and hardly ever bite (unless they have underlying anger issues due to overactive hormones, but that’s rare) compared to the, sometimes skittish and unpredictable, females who are quicker to nip. Because boys are more sluggish and don’t move as fast, they are often chosen as pets for children, who can handle them with ease.

Female rats are much more agile, lively and hardly ever stay still. They can explore their cage hours at the time and enjoy playing with toys, as well as nesting with tissue paper, fabric scraps or other materials. Does can make wonderful pets for people who love to watch their animals doing their own thing. It’s super entertaining to observe their acrobatic skills and love of life!

While boys yearn for human contact, girl rats are more independent and can be left to their own devices for longer periods of time. Of course, they love to interact with their owners and are especially keen to learn new things. If you have time to play with them and teach them to perform tricks, they will keep you busy for hours with much enthusiasm and appreciation.

Decisions Decisions

There’s no simple answer to the question: are male or female rats better pets? It all depends on what you want your pet rat to be. Both sexes make wonderful companions and will show you affection.

If you want a squishy fluff ball to relax with on the sofa, boys will be the better choice for you. On the other hand, you might enjoy the lively spirit of always on the go females. If you have the chance, it’s worth visiting your local breeder and interacting with the babies to see what temperaments you like better but in the end it’s totally up to you!

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