Can you catch any diseases from my pet rat? | Village Vets

It is an important topic to discuss as it often crosses our minds when considering getting a pet rat.. We love them for how smart they are, how easily trainable they are and for their cute little faces. However, we must remember that even though your pet rat looks clean and healthy, it can carry germs that make people sick. 


If you had a pet rat in childhood, I am sure you only remember how sweet they were to you, how playful and curious they were, how they would search for your hidden snacks and interact with other house animals. 


Pet rodents can carry loads of germs since they can be pretty sneaky and get into places that no bigger animal can, where germs and bacteria can be accumulated. Historically rats have been known to carry the biggest diseases, like bubonic plague, also known as the black death. Rodents can transport all sorts of diseases on their fur and then pass it to humans or other household animals who can eventually give it to you! 


But my pet rat does not go into the wild; should I be worried? 

Since pet rats and wild rats have the same anatomy and biologically, they are the same. If your pet rat explores the surroundings outside the home, it can potentially bring germs and bacteria. Pet rats can also get bacteria from other wild rodents if ever in contact; therefore, it is important to know what type of environment your pet rat is coming from.  




How do I minimise the risk of my pet rat getting a disease that is harmful to my family?

The rule of thumb would be not to let your pet rat get into contact with other wild rodents, meaning that it would be best:

Do not let your pet rat wander on its own around the house.

Do not let your pet rat outside in the garden - unless you have a specific area where they cannot sneak through. 


However, errors and accidents can happen, and your little friend rat might run away and go missing for a while. Hopefully, you will find them, or they will come back. However, there are a few extra precautions to keep in mind before bringing them back home and having close contact: 

Have them separated from the rest of the animals in the house

Be wary of droppings, if any, and clean with disinfection whilst wearing gloves. 

Have them checked out by the vet 

Do not attempt to clean them yourself, as you might get scratched or bitten by your pet, and this might pass the germs already.


Can you get COVID-19 from a pet rat? 

It is hard to answer this question as it needs to be studied better by scientists. However, like any other rodents, pet rats carry germs and bacteria; they can also carry diseases like COVID-19 and pass them on to humans. 


Emergency cases:

The risk of getting a harmful disease from a pet rat is much lower than from a wild rodent, but it's always better to keep yourself safe by washing your hands and keeping the surroundings clean and disinfected. To minimise the risk of catching a disease, we recommend having your pet rat checked and examined by a vet if your pet has become in contact with other wild animals or rodents. If ever in doubt about your pet rat, feel free to reach out here; we have a special service Emergency service that you can reach out to if ever in doubt about the safety of your pets and your family.