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Home » Blog » Do Rats Attack Humans? The Truth You Need to Know 

Do Rats Attack Humans? The Truth You Need to Know 


Rats are one of the most infamous rodents found in urban areas. Their ability to spread diseases has made them very unpopular, contaminate food, and cause damage to property. However, there is a common misconception that rats are aggressive and will attack humans. This misconception has people feel anxiety and fear of living in areas where rats are prevalent. 

It is important to understand that rats are not naturally aggressive towards humans. They are typically shy and avoid contact with people whenever possible. Despite this, they can become very aggressive if they feel in danger or cornered. In rare cases, rats have been known to attack people, but these rare events aren’t common and usually occur when the rat is sick, injured, or protecting its young. 

Definition and General Information about Rats 

General information about Rats

Rats are a species of rodent member of the Rattus genus family. There are two main species of rats that commonly interact with humans: the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the black rat (Rattus rattus). These animals are found throughout the world and are known for their ability to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments. Rats are medium-sized animals that typically weigh between 200-500 grams. They have long tails, pointed noses, and sharp teeth that are used for gnawing. These animals are primarily nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. They live in a society group called “colonies”. 

While rats are often viewed as pests, they do serve an important ecological role. They are part of the diet of various animals, such as birds of prey, snakes, and larger mammals. But rats are more than prey, as insect eater, they help to control insect populations and their larvae. Despite their ecological importance, rats can pose a risk to human health. Historically, they have been guilty of carrying a lot of diseases, including the bubonic plague, leptospirosis, and hantavirus. These illnesses can be transmitted to people through direct contact with rat feces, urine, or saliva, causing symptoms like fever, skin itch, and fatigue.

In addition to their potential to spread disease, rats can also cause damage to property by gnawing on wires, pipes, and other materials. They may also contaminate food and water sources, making them unsafe for human consumption. Overall, while rats play an important role in the ecosystem, they also represent a risk to human health and property. Individuals need to take steps to prevent contact with rats and to control their populations in areas where they may come into contact with humans. 

Common Perceptions and Myths About Rats 

Rats and humans have been together in civilization for centuries, and as a result, they are part of many myths and misconceptions. While some of these beliefs may have some truth to them, many are simply false. Here are some of the most common perceptions and myths about rats: 

Rats are Dirty and Carry Diseases: One of the most popular myths about rats is that they are dirty and carry diseases. Yes, they can carry diseases, but not, they are not inherently dirty animals. In fact, rats are very clean animals and spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. 

Rats are Aggressive and Will Attack Humans: Another common misconception about rats is that they are aggressive and will attack humans. While rats are capable of biting humans, they typically do it when they feel threatened or cornered. In general, rats are shy and will avoid contact with humans if possible. 

Rats are a Nuisance and Should be Eliminated Many people view rats as a nuisance and believe that they should be eliminated. While rats can be a problem in certain situations, such as when they infest a home or business, they are an important part of the ecosystem. 

Understanding Rat Behavior 

Understanding rat behavior

Natural instincts of rats and their interaction with humans

Rats are social animals and have a natural instinct to forage and nest in search of food and shelter. They are also known to be territorial and can become aggressive when they feel threatened. When encountering humans, rats may exhibit a flight or fight response depending on the situation. 

Flight vs. fight response: When rats feel threatened, they may either try to flee or fight back. In general, rats are more likely to flee if they feel they have an escape route. However, if they feel cornered or trapped, they may become aggressive and attack.

Foraging and nesting habits: Rats are nocturnal creatures and are most active during the night. They are known to forage in search of food, which includes anything from garbage to pet food. Rats also have a tendency to nest in areas where they feel safe and secure, such as in burrows or in buildings. 

Circumstances under which rats are likely to come into contact with humans

Rodents frequently inhabit city settings, drawn to locales offering abundant sources of nourishment and refuge. Human activity can also play a role in attracting rats to certain areas. 

Urban environments and rat populations. Rats flourish in cityscapes, attracted by the plentiful food and hiding spots. These rodents are commonly spotted in zones with inadequate cleanliness, like backstreets or derelict structures. Additionally, rats may invade residential neighborhoods, especially where food is readily accessible or mess and debris offer concealment opportunities

The role of human activity in attracting rats Human activity can play a role in attracting rats to certain areas. For example, leaving food out in the open, not properly disposing of garbage, and allowing clutter to accumulate can all attract rats. In addition, construction sites may disturb rat populations and cause them to move to nearby areas. 

Factors Contributing to Rat Aggression 

Factors Contributing to Rat Aggression

Rats are known to be aggressive animals, especially when they feel threatened or provoked. Understanding the factors that contribute to rat aggression can help individuals avoid dangerous situations. 

Situations where rats may demonstrate aggressive behavior

Protection of young: Rats are protective of their young and will become aggressive if they sense a threat. This is particularly true for female rats who have recently given birth. 

Scarcity of food Food: scarcity is another factor that can contribute to rat aggression. Rats will become more aggressive when they are hungry and competing for limited resources.

Territorial disputes: Rats are territorial animals and will defend their territory against other rats. This can lead to aggressive behavior, especially in areas where rat populations are high.

Impact of diseases on rat behavior 

Rabies and other zoonotic diseases: These diseases can impact rat behavior. Infected rats may become more aggressive and exhibit abnormal behavior. It is important to avoid contact with rats, especially if they appear sick or injured. 

Behavioral changes due to infection: In addition to zoonotic diseases, rats can also contract other infections that can impact their behavior. For example, rats infected with toxoplasmosis have been shown to exhibit altered behavior. It is important to take precautions when dealing with rats to avoid exposure to potential infections.

Human-initiated contact: Humans can inadvertently provoke rat aggression through direct contact or by creating environments that attract rats. People should steer clear of interacting with rats and actively work to remove possible sources of food and breeding grounds.

Unintentional threats to rats: Unintentional threats to rats, such as loud noises or sudden movements, can also trigger aggressive behavior. 

In conclusion, understanding the factors that contribute to rat aggression can help individuals avoid dangerous situations. By taking steps to eliminate potential food sources and nesting sites, individuals can reduce the likelihood of encountering aggressive rats. 

Addressing Rat Infestations and Public Health Concerns 

Addressing Rat Infestations

Rats are known carriers of diseases and can pose a serious threat to public health. Addressing rat infestations requires a collaborative effort between pest control professionals, public health bodies, and communities. 

The role of pest control professionals

 Pest control professionals play a crucial role in controlling rat infestations. They have the expertise and knowledge to identify the extent of the infestation and determine the most effective and ethical control methods. 

When to seek professional help: It is recommended to seek professional help when the infestation is beyond control or when there is a risk of disease transmission. Indicators of a rat invasion encompass droppings, chew signs on wires and scratches on wood or walls, and unusual sounds.

Effective and ethical control methods: Rat removal experts use a variety of methods to control rat infestations, including trapping, baiting, and exclusion. It is important to use effective and ethical methods that do not harm other animals or the environment.

Collaboration between public health bodies and communities

Collaboration between public health bodies and communities is essential to raise awareness and implement effective rat control measures. 

Awareness campaigns: Public health bodies can launch awareness campaigns to educate the public on the dangers of rat infestations and how to prevent them. This includes proper food storage, waste management, and sealing entry points. 

Community-driven initiatives for rat control: Communities can take an active role in rat control by organizing clean-up events and implementing community-driven initiatives. This includes rat-proofing buildings and creating safe habitats for natural predators of rats. 

Technological advancements in Rodent control 

Technological advancements have led to the development of innovative rodent control methods. These include ultrasonic devices, electronic traps, and remote monitoring systems. In conclusion, addressing rat infestations and public health concerns requires a multi-faceted approach that involves pest control professionals, public health bodies, and communities. By working together, we can effectively control rat infestations and diseases related to them. 

Myths vs. Reality: The Likelihood of Rat Attacks 

Challenging common misconceptions about rats 

The rarity of unprovoked attacks: Contrary to popular belief, rats do not typically attack humans unprovokedly. In fact, most rat bites occur when humans attempt to handle or trap them. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are only a few reported cases of unprovoked rat attacks on humans each year in the United States. 

Understanding Rat Behaviors versus fear-based myths: Rats are intelligent and social animals that have been unfairly demonized in popular culture. Despite their reputation, rats are not naturally aggressive towards humans. They are more likely to run away than to bite when confronted with a potential threat. It is important to distinguish between actual rat behavior and fear-based myths perpetuated by media and cultural stereotypes. 

The psychology behind the fear of rats 

Cultural and media influence on perceptions of rats: Rats have long been associated with disease and filth, leading to widespread fear and disgust towards them. This fear is often perpetuated by media portrayals of rats as sinister and dangerous creatures.
Anyway, it is important to understand that these situations are often exaggerated and do not accurately reflect the true nature of rats. 

Phobias and their impact on attitudes towards rats: Some individuals may have a phobia of rats, which can cause intense fear and anxiety towards these animals. This fear can be difficult to overcome, even with education and exposure to rats in a controlled setting. It is important to seek professional help if a rat phobia is impacting daily life. Overall, while rat bites can occur, they are not a common occurrence and are often the result of human interaction with the animals. 


Rats have the potential to become aggressive towards humans, but this behavior is usually a last resort. There are several factors that can lead to rat aggression, including feeling threatened, territorial instincts, and lack of food or water. Proactive prevention and education are key to minimizing the risk of rat attacks. This includes proper sanitation practices, sealing entry points, and removing potential food and water sources. 

Additionally, educating the public about rat behavior and prevention measures can help reduce fear and improve safety. Ultimately, rats and humans can coexist peacefully with proper management and prevention strategies. It is crucial to understand that rats are not inherently aggressive towards humans and that bites are rare. However, in the event of a rat bite, seeking professional medical attention and monitoring for potential infections is crucial. 

In conclusion, understanding the factors that can lead to rat aggression and implementing proactive prevention and education measures can help promote a safe and peaceful coexistence between rats and humans. 

Join the countless residents across the DFW area who have reclaimed their peace of mind with Critter Stop's efficient rat removal services! We invite you to experience the relief that comes from knowing your space is rat-free. With hundreds of successful interventions under our belt, we're ready to tackle any challenge you face. Don't let rats disturb your comfort any longer. Contact us at Critter Stop today at (214) 234-2616 and let us restore the tranquility of your home or business!

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can rats become aggressive towards dogs or cats? 

Rats are recognized for their territorial behavior, and they can show aggression towards other creatures encroaching on their space. Nonetheless, it's uncommon for rats to confront dogs or cats since these pets are significantly bigger and capable of defending themselves. Typically, rats will steer clear of conflicts with larger animals, resorting to aggression only when they perceive a threat or find themselves trapped.

Do rats attack people?

 While it is possible for rats to attack people, it is not a common occurrence. In general, rats are shy and will avoid contact with humans whenever possible. Anyways, if they feel in danger or cornered, they may bite in self-defense. It is important to note that most rat bites are not serious and can be treated with basic first aid. 

Can rats attack humans? 

Yes, rats can attack humans, but it is a rare occurrence. In most cases, rats will avoid contact with humans and will attack only when they feel in danger, as we explained before

Will a rat purposefully approach a human?

 No, rats do not typically approach humans unless they are seeking food or shelter. Rats are naturally shy and will avoid contact with humans whenever possible. If you see a rat approaching you, it is likely that the rat is looking for food or for some site to nest.

Will rats attack you? 

While it is possible for rats to attack humans, it is not a common occurrence. In most cases, rats will avoid contact with humans.

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Lee Gorman
Lee Gorman
13:50 21 Nov 22
I’d give a 10 star review if I could! We had a great experience with Critter Stop. Everyone I dealt was friendly, professional, and reassuring. Phillip was very helpful and knowledgeable about the work he was doing. He walked me around the entire house to make sure I saw and understood the services he provided. He was also really nice and answered all my questions — he is exactly the type of person that should be interacting with customers.I love the fact that they will come back for up to 1 year after installation if any problems occur — this shows me they stand behind their work.The owner was great too, he personally came to my house and walked me through their offering. I recommend critter stop to anyone and everyone!
Susan Casey
Susan Casey
14:53 15 Nov 22
Critter Stop is a fantastic business! Everyone involved is extremely professional and very easy to communicate with. Chisam, the owner, did a great job of explaining the process to get the squirrels out of my attic during the initial free estimate. The exclusion crew who did all of the initial work was fabulous. The crew consisted of Phillip, Nick and Corey who arrived promptly when they said they would. They are happy, positive employees. Everyone is very polite and patient in explaining their work and answering questions. They came back several times to check the traps and finish it off with the fogging. Lester was very good about following up to schedule each trap check with me, and the office staff who took care of the billing was very efficient. Critter Stop is a well run company with honest, trustworthy employees! Thank you to all of you who worked hard to make my attic critter free and for the peace of mind that you guarantee your work. Great to know I can call them if for some reason a squirrel figures out a way to get back in!
Karen Eckholdt
Karen Eckholdt
14:54 22 Sep 22
Critter Stop has made this project easy and extremely professional from start to finish! They are very detailed and competent from start to finish and know so much about their business. They made a problem easy for us and at a reasonable cost. We would be happy to recommend this company and their owners and staff to anyone.
Aaron Echols
Aaron Echols
13:51 03 Aug 22
The guys at Critter Stop responded quickly, were very friendly, and gave us an honest estimate of what we might need. They explained why some items on other quotes were or were not necessary. They communicated well to get us scheduled, and did the work well and quickly. Great service at a fair and competitive price.
Jacob Scribner
Jacob Scribner
19:23 27 Jul 22
Brandon and his other coworker Gavin came to install insulation in my attic. I am very grateful for the hard work and professionalism. My house feels a lot better with the insulation installed. 5 star review. Cory Leach was also very nice and helpful. He came to my house to do another job and was very attentive and professional. Thank you Corey and thank you Critter Stop for helping me.The owner very polite and helpful, I’m glad I found this company to help me.
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