Fur care

My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: July 20, 2020
My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment

Rats are very intelligent and sociable small rodents. While they have suffered a bad reputation, many people have come to enjoy the company of pet rats. These animal guardians have realized that rats are actually very sweet and loving animals. Even when pet rats enjoy good overall health, they may sometimes suffer from hair loss. This can happen for various reasons.

If you don't know whether a balding rat is undergoing a normal process or there is something wrong with their health. If your rat's hair falling out, you will need to know what might be wrong and what to do. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to find out the most common causes and treatment of hair loss in rats.

You may also be interested in: My Cat's Hair is Falling Out - What Should I Do?
  1. Reasons for a balding rat
  2. Molting
  3. Poor hygiene
  4. Nutritional deficiency
  5. Stress
  6. Loneliness
  7. Disease

Reasons for a balding rat

Hair loss in rats is a fairly common problem, but it is still a problem in the majority of cases. The reasons for this hair loss is usually physical, but there are psychological causes also. We may think rats are too small to have psychological issues, but they are actually some of the most intelligent animals with many more similarities to humans than we may think.

When a balding rat starts to lose their hair, we can see the reasons being one of the following:

  1. Molting
  2. Poor hygiene
  3. Nutritional deficiency
  4. Stress
  5. Loneliness
  6. Disease

To better understand why your rat's hair is falling out, we explain these individual reasons in more detail. If you want to know more about pet rats in general, you can take a look at our article on types of domestic rats to know more.

1. Molting

Cat and dog guardians are aware that most of their companion animals will molt, i.e. they will start to drop some of their hair. But many rat owners will want to know do rats shed also? The answer is that, indeed, they do shed their hair.

However, different to cats and dogs, rats will not always show obvious signs of molting. Their first shed occurs at around 6 to 8 weeks of age. At this point, their softer downy juvenile coat will shed and be replaced by the coarser adult rat hair. However, their proper adult hair will not grow again until a second molt at the age of about 3 months.

Throughout the remainder of their lives, rats will periodically shed hair. However, this is not as regular and a seasonal as with other mammals. The amount of shedding may also be so little that it is not perceptible. However, normal molting in rats will not result in bland patches or skin becoming apparent. The molt should be even and gradual.

My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment - 1. Molting

2. Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is a common cause of hair loss in rats. All small animals tend to fit into hard-to-reach places and nooks, which is why they are difficult to keep clean. In these places, a rat will get dirty or get fungi in their fur. This can lead to the proliferation of fungus in the rodent's dermis. This can cause a rat to lose their hair.

This is why you should brush your rat's fur daily for at least one minute. When you do this you will be able to detect any disorder in your rat's skin and fur and find a suitable solution. Consult your veterinarian about the possible presence of parasites in your rat's coat.

If you want to keep care of your rat's hygiene, you will also have to bathe them every once in a while. Look at our article on how and when to bathe a pet rat to know more.

3. Nutritional deficiency

Your pet rat's hair may also fall out because of a lack of vitamins or trace elements essential for your rat. This does not necessarily mean that your rat does not eat enough. It indicates that your rat's diet is not balanced for its breed, size or age. While a wild rat's diet will depend on what is available, we are able to provide them with proper nutrition to

You should visit the vet and get specific advice. It is always advisable to combine rodent food with vegetables and fresh seasonal fruit. The veterinarian will recommend the healthiest ones for your rodent.

My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment - 3. Nutritional deficiency

4. Stress

Stress is a factor which can also cause your rat to lose hair. If the cage is too close to the TV or another audio source, it can disrupt your rat's mood or prevent it from resting. Your rat's home should be in a quiet place. You should keep an eye on it to identify causes of stress in rats. The first thing we should know is that rats are actually very sensitive.

This can happen if you have other animals in the home. Another big and unfriendly pet can also cause your rodent to panic. Children are also a cause of stress. Being shaken, squeezed, held by the tail and hearing very loud voices just inches away from their delicate ears will of course be a frightening experience for a rat new to a home.

The solution is to prevent your rat from having experiencing stress. If this is due to another pet or a naughty child, you will need to separate and educate them. Look for a quiet place to encourage your rodent to relax.

Avoiding stress in rats means taking care of their general well-being, something you can learn more about in our guide to keeping pet rats.

5. Loneliness

Rats are social beings who like to live in a community. This is why it is advisable for them to live in pairs - two neutered males, two females or a neutered male and a female. If rats feel lonely, they can fall into depression and this can affect their fur.

Sometimes, living with humans provides them with enough company to fulfill the need for companionship. But if you're absent for work, studies, or weekends away it can be very sad for your pet rat, who will feel abandoned. Therefore, living with a partner is the most sensible and healthy option. Again, this shows how psychological issues can lead to alopecia in rats (hair loss).

My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment - 5. Loneliness

6. Disease

Sometimes rats get sick for multiple reasons, like any other pet. We already mention poor hygiene above, but there are other reasons a at may be affected by a disease or pathogen. They inlcude:

  • Infections
  • Insect bites
  • Cold temperatures
  • Humidity

The various diseases that a rat can suffer throughout its life can cause alopecia and excessive hair loss. If you play with your pet for a while every day, you will immediately notice if its coat is not smooth. By observing for signs of disease in rats, you will be able to take appropriate action to remedy the problem.

Pet rats are strong, but not indestructible, and they need the minimum care and attention that you must provide. Affection is a great remedy when your rat's hair is falling out.

Since balding rats are not the only animal which can suffer from alopecia, you may want to find out more with our video on why a cat's hair is falling out:

If you want to read similar articles to My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Fur care category.


  • Make sure you cover all your rat's basic requirements.
  • Provide quality food.
  • Visit your veterinarian to rule out any diseases.
  • You should have at least two rats living together.
  • Avoid stress, noise and aggression.
  • Play with your rat and stimulate their mind.
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My Rat's Hair is Falling Out - Causes and Treatment