Despite widespread believe that most rodents,
including squirrels, chipmunks, mice and
gerbils, do carry rabies, there has been a very
little proof that rats do spread rabies to
humans. Though, very few wild rats have been
found to carry rabies especially in countries
like the United States of America, but the
number are extremely small , and the development
of diagnostic methods have helped in identifying
potential rats that can carry the disease and
spread it to other animals and humans. Though
rats carry a number of parasitic diseases but
the main reason why rabies are very rear in rats
is because they rarely come in contact with
other rabid animals such as Raccoons, fox and
The spread of rabies in a rat that becomes a carrier can depend on few factors; the age, the body weight, and the rabies dose and strain. The higher the dose of rabies in a rat, the fast the progression of the disease, however, the larger the size of the rat, the slower the progression of the disease. It is believed that he incubation period for the development of wild rabies in wild rat is between 14 and 18 days, and most rats will eventually die of the disease in few weeks. While raccoons and some larger animals may have rabies incubation periods of several weeks because of their larger body sizes, rats seem to die quickly from rabies before they spread the disease to humans.
The fact that most rats are not wild , make it difficult to ascertain whether they carry rabies or not, and many pet rat owners do think that rats are not often bitten by rabid animals, and if they are eventually bitten, they do survive long enough before the rats can bite humans.
Skunks, bats, and dogs are considered to be the most prominent carriers or vectors of rabies. Sometimes rabbits and hares are also found to carry the infection. The fact that rats don’t come too close often with these key vectors makes it rare for them to contact the virus. Bites from rats may not be a source of concern , unless the rat is behaving in an unusual manner, then one may have to get tested for rabies after being bitten. Unless you live in a rat infested area, you should not worry about getting rabies infection from the animal as they rarely get to close to humans, except when they are raised as pets.
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