Rat Species & Health Risks

Aside from being painful, rat bites can transmit a variety of diseases depending on the pest’s species. Cotton rats are more likely to be infected with the bacteria that causes rat-bite fever, while Norway rats often carry Hantavirus. If bitten, observing the appearance of the rat can narrow down possible health concerns. Cotton rats are small and brown with tails longer than their bodies. Norway rats are gray with white bellies and shorter tails. Bites from cotton rats are prevalent in the rural Southeast, while Norway rats infest homes nationwide, especially in the urban Midwest and Northeast.

Rat Behavior and Diseases

A rat bites most often when cornered or frightened. However, studies show that Norway rats display unusually aggressive behavior and may also attack without an obvious trigger. The majority of rat diseases are spread through feces, urine, ticks, and fleas. However, some diseases, such as Hantavirus and rat-bite fever, can be spread through bites. The former is a severe respiratory disease that, if left untreated, can cause the lungs to fill with fluid. Rat-bite fever is an infectious disease of the heart and brain. Both begin with flu-like symptoms and should be treated immediately.

Rat Bite Treatment

If bitten by a rat, the main concern is preventing infection. An indicator of rat-bite fever is a rash of small, red bumps on the hands and feet. This requires prescription medication and cannot be treated without professional intervention, though it is wise to have any rat bite checked out by a doctor. Due to rats’ aggressive behavior, it is best to contact the wildlife removal specialists at Trutech to avoid the risk of injury and disease.