Do rats make good pets?

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Rats, just like many other rodents, are known to carry a wide range of diseases. Many of these can be passed on to other animals and humans, and this means you, your other family members, and also your household pets can be put in the firing line. Domestic rats may not have these diseases, but their wild counterparts might. This is why keeping a wild rat you have found as a pet is a very, very bad idea.



Leptospirosis is a dangerous disease because it can come with a wide range of symptoms, most of which are often associated with other less-serious conditions also, and also no symptoms at all. Headaches and fever, pains in the muscles and a chesty cough Ė these are often confused with the common cold or flu before a diagnosis of leptospirosis is made, and when left untreated, this is a condition that could prove fatal. Those with a weakened immune system, or the young and elderly, are at the biggest risk with this rat-spread condition, and is just one reason why you wouldnít want a ďpetĒ rat in your home.

Rat bite fever is another condition that is rarely passed on from rats to humans, and is just one more reason why a pet rat is a bad idea. This is passed on by not just rats, but mice as well, and it is generally in the urine and other secretions of the rat in which you will find the bacteria that causes this disease. Thatís why you will need to do a thorough clean-up operation if you have had a rat infestation. The disease threat will still be present in the urine and other secretions, long after the rat itself has actually gone.

For the most part, cases of rat bite fever in the United States are rare, with the most common cases occurring in Japan. Not just the urine that passes on this condition, anything that comes from the ratís eyes, nose, or mouth will spread this bacteria if it has been infected, and this means that water, soil, and other ingested products can easily become contaminated. The disease itself is usually passed on via a rat bite, however, and this is another reason why getting too close to a rat, such as having it as a pet, is again, a very bad idea.

Not just infecting humans, rat bite fever can also affect other animals, including household cats, dogs, and other pets.

Have you heard of Cryptosporidiosis? Itís commonly known by its shorter name, Crypto, and is a parasite which can easily be passed from rats to other animals, including humans. It is particularly dangerous in those who are already sick Ė those with autoimmune disorders, for example, and those with a weakened immune system, and can cause a very unpleasant stomach infection with an odd cough and very loose stools. The cause is often contamination from infected animalsí feces and urine, and it can effect food, particularly under-cooked, water, and even earth. Even pools of water, such as swimming pools, can become infected, and it just takes one infected rat to do it. Just another reason why keeping a pet rat is a bad idea. Can you see a pattern emerging here?

There are so many diseases associated with rats that it doesnít make sense to want to actually invite one of these animals into your home, particularly a wild one. You cannot tame a wild rat, nor should you want to. You canít be sure that the wild rat you have isnít an infected one, and this puts your entire family in danger, humans and animals included.

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If you have any questions or comments, e-mail me at david@attic-rat.com