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Do Rats Attack?

As far as the "attack mode" is concerned, forget about it.  They are, in the end, afraid of you.  While the female of ANY species will protect their young, let's think about this: Are you really going to be worried about a little animal you could hold in your hand?  If you are, you shouldn't.  As a matter of fact, you should try a little "aversion therapy" yourself!  Go to a pet store and buy a young pet rat.  Raise him/her (doesn't matter which) and you'll see what I mean.

Years ago, when my own daughter was little, about 6 or 7 years old, she had a fear of small animals like lots of people have, yet she wanted a pet.  So I got her a white rat. Well, black and white, a pinto, sort of.  Well, let me tell you. "Bernie" and Amy turned out to be inseparable.  She took Bernie everywhere.  She would toss him into the air, carry him around in her pocket or on her shoulder, Bernie loved it.  He would jump up and down whenever he saw her come into the room.  Bernie lasted almost 6 years - quite some time for a common rat!  She was devastated when he died.  My daughter is 33 now, she's a microbiologist and works with rats all the time, every day.

Let me give you an example of how a rat works, in close association with man.  Let's say you live in one of those New York brownstones, continually infested with rats for years.  And let's assume you have a little baby you put to bed at night.  So during the night, your baby drools or throws up a tiny bit, (quite common, as you know) and the rats that live in the building, right along with you, discover that.  They will go right up to a sleeping baby to eat whatever the baby has thrown up.  And, if they are surprised by you or the baby waking up, yes, they could "bite" when surprised like that.  This is the context of how most rat bites happen.  I'm not saying they're ALL like that, but most rat bites are incidental like that.  The rat bit the baby because he was startled while feeding, not out of malevolence.  Rats will attempt to escape when they are cornered, they much prefer this to any confrontation.

While rats do live in close association with man, they ARE afraid of us.  Lights on or off are no matter.  Rats find their way around quite easily under almost any conditions, inside or outside.  They are always quite wary, until they "know the territory," as opposed to mice, who work out of curiosity alone.  Mice are dumb.  Rats are smart. Mice, (I'm talking PET mice here) do bite.  Rats, (pets again) very seldom bite.  Rats have a much longer life span, are INFINITELY more intelligent than mice, they are communal animals that live together.  Mice don't normally live together, except for a female and her brood.

"City" rats are indeed different than "farm" rats.  But only as different as you would be from someone else that lived in the city....  They are the SAME species, they just live and react to different habitats.  Exterminators deal with both city and farm rats.  Rats will live around the edges of just about any farmer's field.  Sometimes without the farmer even knowing.  For the most part, they don't hurt anything, they just live on the crops the farmer doesn't harvest or leaves in the fields.  No big deal, there's a farmer's field less than a mile from the office that's had rats around the edges for the last 40 years.  Never caused a problem - until they built houses across the street, a Burger-King down the road, and the traffic picked up and people started being careless about their trash and food.  So whose fault is this?  Certainly not the rats, they are just taking advantage of the food supply.  It's the people that put out their garbage in easily chewed-through trash bags, and the people that throw out the unwanted stuff from their trip through the Burger-King.  The real danger is that all wild animals carry diseases - that's why your mother always told you to wash your hands whenever you're finished handling any animals....  

Now go pick up that pet rat at the pet store!

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