4 Common Myths about Rats

Rat in a trap

There is a lot of information out there about rats and rodents and the truth is easy to find.   Even with the truth at our fingertips, there are still a number of myths about rats that are still out there and even accepted as truth by many people.  We are going to go through a few of these to help spread the truth about these dangerous animals.

Myth #1 – Rats don’t carry diseases as they did years ago.

The truth is that rats are known vectors for a significant number of diseases, even potentially fatal diseases.  Even Bubonic Plague.  That’s right, the old Black Death, itself.  Ok, let’s clarify this one.  Bubonic is rare, but there were at least five cases in the United States in 2020 and at least one case was in South Lake Tahoe.  While serious and requires hospitalization, Plague is treatable with strong antibiotics.

The current thinking is that rats did not spread the Plague directly, but rather the fleas on the rats were responsible.  This seems like a minor detail since the rats carried the fleas and when the rats were killed, the fleas would abandon the rats and jump on the humans.  One way or the other, Bubonic came from the rats and that dreaded Plague is still around today.

Mentioning Bubonic might seem like a scare tactic, but it is just one of the many diseases known to be carried by rats to this day.  To be more realistic and to bring this closer to home, Roof Rats, which have also been known to carry bubonic, are also responsible for several illnesses including:

  • Rat-Bite Fever
  • Leptospirosis
  • Salmonellosis caused by food contamination.
  • Murine Typus, another disease known to be spread by the fleas of rats
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Trichinosis

Don’t listen to the myth.  Rats and rodents are most definitely still carriers of some nasty illnesses.

Myth #2 – It is ok to approach, touch or pick up rats

Well, to answer this one, we will refer you to Myth #1. Or we can just say “Bubonic” a few more times.

This myth comes from the fact that some people have pet rats and many people think that since rats can be pets, they can catch and even domesticate the Roof Rats in their attic.

Don’t do that.

Rats that are bred as pets have become dependent on people to feed them and otherwise take care of them.  They are also vaccinated against the diseases listed above.  The Roof Rats that live in your attic are wild and vicious and while they are more apt to hide than attack, if they feel threatened, they will absolutely attack.  If you put down a live trap or a glue pad, the rat is going to scared and will lash out.  Do not approach rats ever.  These are not the same rats you saw in the Indiana Jones movie with the outtakes of Harrison Ford carrying and playing with the rats.

Myth #3 – Rats only live in poor, run-down areas.

This was never true, but in the reality of COVID, this is even more untrue than ever, if that is even possible.  Truth is a binary, it is either true or not and this is not true, but we will stand by the statement that in today’s world it is even more untrue.

Most rats get their food from dumpsters and the garbage from places like restaurants or places with food courts.  The problem is that most restaurants are closed, so the major food sources for many rats is gone.  So rats have become more brazen in their desperation for food and they are venturing into areas they have not gone to before.  This does not mean that middle- and upper-class neighborhoods are seeing rats for the first time, it means they are seeing more rats now than ever.

Myth #4 – Rats Love Cheese

We’ll call this a yes and no.  While we do see our share of Norway rats in this area, Sacramento is really known more for Roof Rats, which is why we focus more on that breed.  With Norways, this myth is on the sliding scale closer to false since they are omnivores.  Roof Rats, however, are vegetarians and they do eat and even seem to enjoy cheese.

However, to say that rats will seek out the cheese is a myth.  Roof Rats will eat whatever is convenient and they are not going to pass up a convenient meal thinking that if they hold out for a little while, they will find some cheese.  This myth comes from the fact that at a time, it was common for people to make their own cheese, and it had to be stored somewhere, and rats would often get to cheese left out.  People thought it was because it was cheese.  In actuality, it was because it was there at all.

We discussed last time that there are so many gadgets out there that people can buy for do-it-yourself rodent control.  We cannot stress enough the benefits of calling us a Pinnacle Pest Control when it comes to protecting your home and family from rats and other pests.  And just in case we haven’t gotten our point across yet, have we mentioned that there was a California case of Bubonic just up the road?

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