How Dangerous Are Rats?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

Rats aren’t a regular pet.

Although Stuart Little may have inspired a lot of people to own cute little pet rats and mouses, this inspiration alone is not enough to handle these animals.

Rats are not the easiest pets to own due to the risks attached to owning them.

So, how dangerous are rats? Rats can be dangerous if they bite or scratch their owner. They can transmit fatal diseases to humans. If you talk about wild rats, they are an even bigger risk. Other than health issues, rats can also have serious behavioral problems.

Of course, none of these issues are unsolvable.

One of the best things you can do to keep your rat and yourself safe is to buy a cage for it. Check out our top picks for rat cages.

But first:

You need to educate yourself on all the matters that make rats dangerous.

Diseases caused by rats

Rats are known to transmit several diseases to humans, some of which are fatal.


These animals carry a lot of germs and parasites.

Other than bites and scratches, these viruses can also spread on contact with the rat’s urine, droppings, and blood.

You won’t believe this:

Every year 15,000 rat bites are reported in the USA.

The most common disease caused by rats is the rat-bite fever.

The skin around the bitten area gets rashes and ulcers.

Next, we have lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV).

It is one of the biggest risks that come with a rat.

Whether wild or pet, rats can transmit this disease through their urine and saliva.

This viral infection is very harmful.

It mostly affects pregnant women who then have to face many complications.

Not only is childbirth made worse in this condition, but it also increases the risk of mental retardation in the newborn child.

If diagnosed, the virus can be treated.


There is no preventative measure.

If you want to stay safe from LCMV, you must stay away from rats.

Salmonellosis is another common disease transmitted by rats.

It spreads by the consumption of water or food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected rat.

The virus affects humans within 12 to 36 hours of consumption of contaminated food.

The immediate symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever.

Usually, the virus can be treated and cured within 2 to 7 days.

Black plague is another disease spread by rats.

Fleas act as the transmitter in this case.

Fleas who previously bit an infected animal then bite the rat.

The rat then further spreads the plague to humans.

This isn’t all.

There are a number of other diseases that rats can transmit, including Hantavirus, typhus, and tularemia.

Behavioral danger

If you somehow manage to put the health risks aside, the next danger to consider is the behavior of rats.

You might be wondering:

Are rats dangerous to babies or children? I go into detail on this topic in this article.

Rodents are well-known for being destructive.

Rats in particular love damaging items made out of plastic, wood or any other hard material.

This is what’s annoying:

Not only does this damage cause structural loss, but the noise of the continuous gnawing is also very irritating.

Moreover, since rats can squeeze through tiny holes, you practically cannot keep them out of anywhere.

Rats will enter your wardrobes, cupboards, and what not!

The slightest ignorance can cause you lots of damage.

What’s even worse is:

Rats leave teeth marks everywhere.

Every item that they try to chew will forever be damaged.

Even your garden wouldn’t be safe!

Rats will dig holes in your soil, damage trees, and leave their marks everywhere.

They will also start building their nests in your home.

Any dark corner will become the ideal place for their nests.

These rats will damage your grass, ceilings, cabinets, walls, floorboards, and everything else.

You may be wondering:

If I keep my pet rat in a cage, these issues won’t arise.

Well, you can definitely restrict the rat to minimize the extent of the problems.

But, you will have to let the rat out sometimes!

Signs that you have a rat infestation at home

As far as pocket rats are concerned, you can tackle the previously mentioned issues rather easily.

You can maintain hygiene and get preventative vaccines to reduce the risk of diseases.

You can also train your pet rats to behave well so that your belongings don’t have to bear damage.


The problem arises when wild rats start invading your home.

Since rats are tiny and super flexible, they can squeeze in from narrow pipes and holes.

Rats could get inside your home form under a closed door or even from a drain.

These tiny creatures will get inside nooks and corners of your home, and you wouldn’t even know!

So, what should you do?

Look out for signs.

Although these intelligent creatures will hide amazingly well, they will always leave behind a trail.

Keeping an eye out for certain signs will help you figure out if a wild rat has attacked your house or not.

If the rats are in your backyard or garden, start by looking for burrows.

These burrows will most likely be near pavement edges, drain covers, near tree roots or in a very grassy patch.

This isn’t a definite sign of rats since other animals, such as chipmunks, also dig burrows.

If there are rats, you’ll notice marked paths.

Rats like to follow the same path every time, which is why you can easily spot their footprints.

Also, look into nooks that seem to be hidden.

This is where you’ll find rat nests.

Signs of rats indoors are a little different.

First of all:

You’ll be able to spot rat droppings.

Rats also leave greasy marks on the floor and walls.

If the rats have been around for a while, they would’ve dug holes in your floorboards or door frames.

Moreover, you’ll hear gnawing sounds.

Rats damage plastic, wood, and many other materials.

This will create a sound, and you will also notice rat teeth marks on the damaged items.


If you have a pet who seems to be staring into dark corners now and then, it is most likely an indication that the pet saw a rat or something else inside the home.

Getting rid of rat infestations

Spotting rats in your home is much easier than getting rid of them.

Once rats settle in your home, they wouldn’t want to leave.

In fact:

They’ll stay behind and start a family.

If you don’t want that to happen, start by blocking all entries for rats.

Here’s how you can close the openings that are inviting rats in your home:

Hole The technique to fill it in
Gaps in walls and doorsCover them with copper mesh
Holes in drains or doorsCover with a heavy-weight material or hardware cloth
Other openingsSeal with foam and wire mesh

The next step will be to kick out rats who have already come inside.

You can use repellents for this purpose.

But, keep this in mind:

Repellents may only be a temporary solution.

They aren’t guaranteed to be 100% successful.

Glue boards, rat poison, maze-tray traps, and other such lethal tools are also some of the options.

But, these methods will hurt the animal.

The best solution is to hire a professional service that deals with rat infestations.

Not only will that be the safest, but it will also be the most convenient for you.


Take more precautionary steps to prevent any more rats from getting attracted to your property.

For this, start by cleaning the rubbish around your home.

Dispose of your trash and rubbish properly so that rats don’t find a place to hide in the piles.


Get rid of wood and droppings regularly.

Do not leave food outside.

Whether you’re feeding your pet or simply just getting rid of expired food, never let it stay outside long enough to attract other animals.

To stay on the safe side:

Always store your food in animal-proof containers.

This way even if the rats find their way inside, there won’t be any more attractions that will encourage them to stay at your place.

Related Questions

Are rats aggressive? Rats aren’t particularly aggressive, but certain behavior can make it look like they are.

Rats tend to bite only when they are feeling insecure or attacked.

It is more so an act of defense than an attack.

However, rats can show aggression if they feel like other animals are invading their territory.

Are brown rats dangerous to humans? Rats come in all sorts of coats and colors.

But, brown rats, in particular, carry several diseases and infections.

These rats are sewer rats, also sometimes called Norway rats.

Brown rats can transmit salmonella, Weil’s disease, leptospirosis, and a lot of other diseases too.

They also show aggressive behavior, which leads to structural damage.

Are rats smart? The reason why rats make such a popular pet choice is due to their high smartness level.

These intelligent creatures learn very quickly.

It is a piece of cake training rats.

They aren’t just smart; they also have high emotional intelligence.

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