Are Roof Rats Dangerous?

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Roof rats are one of the most common rodent species that infest different homes and properties in the country. These filthy pests can wreak havoc inside your house and endanger the whole family at any time.

So what kinds of danger do roof rats bring to a home? These rodents can cause structural damages to a house because of their strong teeth that can gnaw through just about anything. They can also transmit several diseases to humans like rat-bite fever, murine typhus, plague, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis.

What Makes Roof Rats Hazardous to Your Home and Family?

Residents and property owners usually think that rodents are earth-dwellers. But most of these pests are skilled climbers, which is why one particular species of rats prefer to live in roofs and attics.

When roof rats make themselves at home in the attic, the environment becomes dangerous for the house itself and the people living in it. They can cause structural damage in a home by gnawing through different materials. They can also cause health hazards to humans through the bugs they carry or the food they contaminate.

Although many people attempt to eliminate roof rats by themselves, mishandling the traps or rodenticides can cause further harm to you and your family. In 2018, 7802 unintentional rodenticide poisonings were reported. These cases can be fatal which is why it’s better to leave extermination at the hands of a professional.

Structural Damage

Roof rats have strong teeth that are constantly growing. To keep them short, these pests chew on hard substances such as plastic and wood. By cutting through materials like wood, plastic, aluminum, concrete, and steel, they can create pathways in the walls and nests in the attic.

Some roof rats even chew through electrical wires, causing some appliances to stop working. If the cables become exposed, the electricity may short-circuit or worse, lead to a house fire. They can also cause water leaks and floods if they manage to chew through the PVC water pipes.

Although roof rats build their nests in the attic and breed there, some colonies extend their burrow systems to the ground. They usually utilize these areas for food storage or additional shelter space. The burrows can lead to structural damages because they are commonly found under the house, the garden shed, or the decking.

Health Hazards and Diseases

Out of the many species in the animal kingdom, rats are one of the main carriers of pathogens and diseases. They are also the cause for millions of deaths during the Black Death of the 1300s in Europe, the deadliest pandemic ever recorded in history.

Although the plague was eventually contained, rats still have several ways to cause different diseases in people. These pests can transmit diseases such as Salmonellosis, Leptospirosis, and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome by contaminating a food or water source with their saliva, feces, or urine.

Another thing to remember about roof rats is that they are wild animals who can become aggressive when forced to a corner. They will bite and scratch anyone who keeps them from escaping. If someone has been scratched or bitten by a roof rat, it’s crucial to contact a doctor immediately to ensure that they won’t contract rat-bite fever or tetanus. These infections can still occur even when the roof rat is dead.

Aside from being carriers of different pathogens, roof rats can also bring other critters with them. Ectoparasites, or those parasites found outside the host’s body, can cling onto the roof rat’s skin and hair follicles. Some of the common ectoparasites found on roof rats are the tropical rat louse, spiny rat louse, spiny rat mite, tropical rat mite, and the Oriental rat flea.

These parasites can also affect humans and pets. Bites can cause itching and skin irritation, but some of these pathogen-carrying parasites can also cause more serious diseases like murine typhus. The ectoparasites can also transfer from the roof rat to a pet.

What Can Roof Rats Do to Your Home’s Structure?

One of the biggest reasons why calling a pest control service for rat infestation is because roof rats will cause more structural damage to a home the longer you leave them alone. By creating a nest in the roof or attic, the rats will gnaw through wood, plastic, and concrete – which they can do with much ease since their teeth are strong enough to chew these materials.

Another thing to note about their teeth is that it is continuously growing. That’s why roof rats need to trim it by chewing hard substances like concrete, wood, plastic, steel, and aluminum. They will also gnaw through electrical wirings which can cause a fire hazard. Some of them also cause water leaks by biting through PVC pipes.

Aside from the damages in the attic, roof rats can also burrow on the ground to create more shelter and food storage for their growing colony. These nests can be found under the house, deck, or shed which can weaken the house’s foundation.

What Diseases Do Roof Rats Bring?

Roof rats are considered to be a health hazard because they can transmit different pathogens to humans and pets. They can also carry ectoparasites on their skin or hair follicles that can potentially harm a person.

Ways of Transmission

Roof rats can spread infection in several ways. Just direct contact with an infected rodent, dead or alive, can put a person at risk for rat-bite fever. Rodent scratches and bites can also be dangerous for humans.

Some diseases can be indirectly contracted from roof rats. Fleas from these rodents can cause plague and typhus. Consuming contaminated food and water can also lead to leptospirosis and salmonellosis.

1. Rat-Bite Fever

Rat-bite fever is a bacterial disease caused by the transfer of Streptobacillus moniliformis from an infected rat to a human. It can happen in two ways: when the rodent scratches or bites a person and when the person ingests water or food contaminated with the carrier rat’s feces.

Symptoms of rat-bite fever include rash, joint and muscle pain, headache, vomiting, and fever. However, these indications usually show 3-10 days after the exposure to the infected rat and the onset of the fever might be delayed up to 3 weeks. By that time, the wounds from the encounter with the rodent would have already healed so the link between the exposure and the illness might be difficult to detect.

2. Murine typhus

The typhus-causing pathogen, Rickettsia typhi, is usually transmitted to humans when they are bitten by a rat ectoparasite – an external parasite that lives on a rodent’s skin or hair follicles. Although most patients report contact with a rodent, some recall seeing fleas or other parasites bite them.

Symptoms of murine typhus become evident 2 weeks after getting bitten by the infected flea. A patient may experience rashes, cough, stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, appetite loss, muscle pains, chills, and fever. Most patients recover with minimal treatment, but severe cases can lead to serious organ damage.

3. Plague

The plague is considered a re-emerging disease that threatens global public health. Although it mainly affects rodents, humans can also contract this condition if they are bitten by a rodent flea infected by the plague bacterium. The pathogen can also be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or animal, consumption of uncooked meat, or inhalation of droplets from an infected host with pneumonic infection.

The symptoms of plague vary according to the individual’s exposure to the bacteria. It can also take different clinical forms such as septicemic, pneumonic, and bubonic.

4. Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease caused by the transmission of the Leptospira bacteria from animals to humans. The contraction of the illness happens when the person comes in contact with the bodily fluids of carrier animals. It can also happen through contact with soil, food, or water contaminated with the infected animal’s urine. The Leptospira bacteria can enter the body through the mouth, nose, eyes, broken skin, and open wounds.

The disease is characterized by rash, diarrhea, abdominal pain, red eyes, jaundice, vomiting, muscle ache, chills, headaches, and high fever. If left untreated, leptospirosis can lead to complications such as respiratory distress, liver failure, meningitis, and kidney damage.

5. Salmonellosis

Salmonella is a kind of microbial pathogen that causes some of the most common food-borne diseases. Consumption of food or water contaminated by rat dropping can cause Salmonellosis because roof rats and Norway rats are carriers of Salmonella enterica.

During the 1990s, this pathogen became a significant problem in Europe because of its resistance to many kinds of drugs. Although it was found to be rarely fatal, the elderly, children, and people with weak immune systems might develop severe infections if treated with the wrong antibiotics. Symptoms of the illness include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that lasts for one week.

Rodent Removal Services by Pinnacle Pest Control

Dealing with a roof rat infestation at home is not an easy task. That’s why it’s better to leave it to a professional exterminator to ensure a safe removal procedure.

Here at Pinnacle Pest Control, we offer complete attic pest removal services that include the elimination of roof rats, sanitation of the area, repair of damaged wires and structures, and re-insulation of the attic. Learn more about our complete services now by contacting us at (916) 381 – 5793.

Learn more: How to Get Rid of Roof Rats

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