I know some of you probably heard about the 10 year old boy who died from Rat Bite Fever last month, right? So I wanted to touch upon this illness and what it is and how his death could have been prevented.
Before I say anything else I want to say that if you buy, adopt or take in a pet. It's your responsibility to make sure you know as much as you can about that animal. Including what illnesses they can get, how to treat them, how to care for them and what illnesses and diseases you can get from them. If that little boys family had taken the time to find out about rats, they would have found out that albeit rare, a person can get rat bite fever but it's treatable if caught in time. This child did not have to die because he had pet rats and even though it's not politically correct to say so, his family is responsible for his death because they didn't research rats.
Too many people see animals as throw away or disposable. That they don't need, deserve or warrant respect, care and responsible ownership and that thinking is just wrong.
As soon as I saw this story on the news, I started writing an article about it to get the real facts out there, especially after seeing a couple of complete idiots on the news talking about how Petco should have vaccinated the rats before selling them. Well the fact is there is no vaccine for rat bite fever and rats don't get vaccinations like dogs and cats do because it's not needed. If this person on the news had done ANY research they would have found that out, instead they chose to do as many people do and just guess at it and in the process looked like a complete idiot to those of us who know what we're talking about. Good grief, a little research is all it would have taken.
Now I'm hearing from the rat community that people are tossing their pet rats out in the wild because they are afraid they will get rat bite fever. These people are idiots. I don't usually call people out like this but this is the most inhumane thing you can do. Domesticated rats cannot take care of themselves out in the wild, they will die!
If you don't want your pet rat any longer and are thinking of just letting it go free, I beg you to reconsider and at the very least take him to an animal shelter where he has a chance of being adopted but more importantly will be taken care of in the mean time.
One other thing...stop buying rats from pet stores. They buy their rats and most other animals from puppy mill trype breeders who could give a damn about their health, breeding or well being. They are in it for the profit, that is all and they will sell you sick rats because these puppy mill type breeders do not care.
Instead, adopt from animal shelters and put these puppy mill breeders out of business.
Rats already have a bad enough reputation and a lot of people see them as pests not worthy of any affection or care and this rat bite fever story is going to make things a hell of a lot worst for the little guys because people don't take the time to learn.
Information cures ignorance so I also wrote an article that I am asking everyone to share on Twitter, FB or anywhere they can. I can only hope that more pet rats don't get thrown out in the cold because of this one incident.