Rats are equipped with large teeth and administer painful bites when threatened. Healthy rats typically avoid people and prefer to be active when buildings are quiet. However, when cornered, they will lunge and bite to defend themselves. The saliva of some species of rats carries hazardous diseases, such as leptospirosis and Hantavirus. In rare cases, rat bite victims may contract rat-bite fever. Humans bitten by rodents are also susceptible to tetanus infections.
Whether in cities, farms, neighborhoods, dumps or sewer systems, rats live within close proximity to human habitats. Outside, they can be found in trees or burrowing beneath the soil. However, rats are also common household pests. As carriers of many known diseases, these rodents can prove extremely harmful to human health.
Buildings near train stations, subways, garbage dumps, parks or railroads may be densely populated with Norway rats. While rat bites are relatively uncommon, they can be dangerous.
Rat bites may be shallow or deep. Some display single puncture wounds, while others display multiple abrasions. Bleeding often occurs. Although infection is rare, all rodent bites should be promptly and thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Tetanus immunizations may be required for those who have not received them in recent years. Despite common belief, no rodent bites in North America have ever resulted in the transmission of rabies. However, a person bitten by a rat should seek a medical professional.