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Why are Rats Given a Bad Rep?

why are rats given a bad reputation?

Stigmas. They’re the worst. Well, imagine being a rat. Poor little fellas. Lots of people know them as being dirty, unhealthy, mean, ugly… you get the point. If you can believe it, many humans have a true fear of them. But what we need to understand, first, is that domestic rats are absolutely not the same as wild ones. They may have similar body structure and eating habits, but they have big lifestyle and behavior differences. So why do rats have a bad reputation?

Social Behavior... Or Not So Social 

You guessed it: wild rats are not social creatures. If they’re able to escape, they will run. Usually, though, this type of rat will only come where the people are if a food source is nearby. If they’re trapped (or feel trapped), the wild rat will likely get mad and will try to fight their way out of the situation.

On the other hand, domestic rats are very friendly toward humans and with other domestic rats, too. I was casually chatting with my neighbor a few days back, and (of course, because I’m always talking about Small Pet Select), I brought up this article. She works in a veterinary office and owns rats; has for about 15 years. They’ll take treats from her hands, give kisses, and if she would allow it, they’d sit on her shoulder. All. Day. Long. That’s a cool creature!  

rat sitting on shoulder

But They Carry Diseases!

Again, this is a wild. vs. domestic conversation. Wild rats do and can spread a number of nasty diseases. Along with fleas and other parasites, they’re known to carry and help transmit illnesses such as foot and mouth, and have been linked to conditions like cryptosporidiosis (a parasite-borne intestinal disease). And if a wild rat is infected with a disease, or has a brain condition, it’s possible for the rodent to become very hostile and aggressive, which could lead to a dangerous situation. BUT! Did you know that wild rats were actually not the cause of the 14th century Black Death in Europe? Well, that’s what the scientists say, at least. I’ll go with the scientists.

Domestic rats are no more likely to spread disease than any other house pet if you’re a responsible rat parent, and keep their living environment safe and clean.

When people who aren’t familiar with rats hear the word “rat,” they don’t understand the difference between type. So why on earth do rats have a bad reputation? Pet rats are NOT the same as wild ones. They’re lovable, EXTREMELY intelligent, and they give you kisses! Who doesn’t like a sweet little rat kiss after a long day? Come on.

So, next time someone starts talking down on rats, educate them. After all, no one knows what they don’t know. 


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