Do Rats Bite Humans in Their Sleep? What Happens If They Bite You?

do rats bite humans in their sleep

The answer is that though it is less likely for rats to bite humans, you can’t completely rule out the chances of getting bitten by rats. Because in many circumstances, rats can bite humans.

Many researchers find the rat biting stories fictional and mythical and even postulate that rats don’t bite a sleeping person.

According to the researchers, rats will crawl all over the human body while you’re asleep, which most people mistake for bites. They explain that a rat won’t actually bite you. Instead, you’ll become irritated by its tiny, sharp claws and feelers on its feet. Which gives you the impression that it has bitten you. 

However, rats can and will bite you in certain situations if needed.

Do Rats Attack Humans While Sleeping?

Rats don’t randomly attack people. But they can attack if they feel frightened, startled,  overexcited, or unsafe in their hideouts.

Since rats come out of their hole only to find a food source, they usually avoid people in their sleep.  They sneak into their holes when they find food or a food source. But they can consider you a snack if they can’t find some. This is particularly true for people who work in professions where many flavors could end up on their skin, such as chefs or garbage collectors who may emit different smells that draw rats to them and cause them to bite.

Also, When handling rats, your chances of getting bitten are highest. At that point, rats become agitated and bite you in an attempt to escape.

Can Rats Jump In Your Bed?

Rats don’t typically jump into beds. The bed must be as low as one foot for this to happen. If a rat doesn’t jump down from a higher height and land directly on your mattress, it cannot otherwise accomplish such a high jump on your bed.

What Does a Rat Bite Look Like?

The majority of bites occur while people are sleeping at night. Rats tend to bite the hands and fingers or other exposed body parts while people are asleep.

Rat bites typically resemble a few little cuts or a single, tiny puncture wound. Those minor cuts or wounds are prone to bleeding and uncomfortable swelling. You can also see some pus if the bite becomes an infection.

What Happens If a Rat Bites You?

Rat bites are typically not severe; the majority of bites only require washing, and the patient is released right after. Rat bites have an extremely low infection risk of just 2%. 

However, the common symptoms of  a wild, aggressive rat’s  bites are:

  • Pain, swelling, redness around the bite
  • Fever
  • Muscular Pain
  • Mild headache
  • Vomiting 
  • A pus-filled, weeping wound in the case of secondary infection
  • Bacterial infections such as spirillary RBF and streptobacillary RBF 
girl screaming as she is attacked by a rat
Image credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

How Do I Know If I Have Rat-Bite fever?

Rat-bite fever (RBF) is a condition caused by a rat bite. Although less frequently than rat bites, bites from mice, squirrels, cats, and weasels can also result in rat-bite fever.

Rat-bite fever frequently causes a rash that can be flat or bumpy. The color of the rash can range from red to purple. It can sometimes look like bruises.

Rat-bite fever is two types caused by two distinct bacteria. One is streptobacillary rat-bite fever, and another is spirillary rat-bite fever. The former is a more common type in North America, and the latter is more common in Asia.

Symptoms of Streptobacillary RBF

Streptobacillary RBF bites typically recover relatively quickly. But, in some instances, for 3 to 10 days, patients might suffer from the following symptoms.

However, in some cases, you may experience the following symptoms within 3 to 10 days.

  • fever and chills
  • joint pain
  • headache
  • skin rash
  • muscle pain
  • vomiting and diarrhea

Symptoms of Spirillary RBF

A rat bite that results in spirillary RBF may appear to be healing faster. However, 1 to 3 weeks after the bite, one can suffer from the following symptoms: 

  • fever and chills
  • headache
  • sore throat and vomiting
  • muscle pain
  • ulcer at the wound
  • swelling of lymph nodes
  • skin rash

You may also like: How to Tell if a Rat is Pregnant?

How Are Rat Bites Treated?

If you get bitten by a rat, wash the affected area with soap and warm water quickly. Use a clean towel to dry the affected area, and then apply an antibiotic ointment and bandage the cut.

It’s advisable to consult a doctor as soon as possible, even if the bite appears mild. Keep in mind that rat bites can easily develop into serious infections. It’s even better if you get a tetanus shot. If you can’t recall the last time you had one, or if it has been more than five years since you got your last shot, you should get a tetanus shot.

Sometimes, your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics to prevent any potential infection. When the bite keeps healing, watch out for any indications of rat-bite fever or infection mentioned above.

How to Treat Rat-Bite Fever or Infection?

If you suffer from rat-bite fever or infection, you’ll need to take the antibiotic for 7 to 10 days. You may need to take intravenous antibiotics if the bite is more severe. A stand course of antibiotics is enough to treat rat-bite fever or infections. However, rat-bite fever might also leave you with persistent fatigue, rash, or joint pain.

Note that you must complete the course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor. You shouldn’t stop taking antibiotics before you finish your course, even if you start feeling better. Otherwise, some of the bacteria may survive and become resistant to antibiotics.

What Happens If Rat-Bite Fever Isn’t treated?

If you leave rat-bite fever and infection Left untreated, you can suffer from serious health problems, including:

  • myocarditis
  • pneumonia
  • endocarditis
  • pericarditis
  • systemic vasculitis
  • hepatitis
  • polyarteritis nodosa
  • meningitis
  • nephritis
  • amnionitis
  • focal abscesses

Some of these conditions are life-threatening, so if unusual symptoms accompany your bite, it’s essential to seek treatment immediately.

The Problems with Rat Running Around your House

If your house is full of rats, everything must be messy. You are already quite troubled, so you should take immediate measures to bring the situation under control. Because rats can cause many problems. Such as:

Rats Spread Many Diseases

Your top priorities should be safety and hygiene. These tiny animals are excellent carriers of diseases, and having them around your home compromises your top priority, which is hygiene and safety.

So, sanitize the area whenever you discover mouse droppings in your room or, worse, on your bed.

Rats Chew on Everything They Come Across

Rats are annoying creatures that chew everything. They chew curtains, furniture, and pretty much anything else they can get their little teeth on. So, if you wake up to find your cables chewed on, you have these little uninvited guests.

rat chewing router cable
Image credit: alexeisido, Shutterstock

Rats Interrupt/ Disturb Your Peaceful Sleep

When a mouse is around and active, you can hear it. Their little paws move across the ground with the usual sound of scratching claws. Even the most stoic philosopher will be distracted by the noise because having mice racing about your house like that is more bothersome than just the noise alone.

How Do I Keep Rats Out Of My Bed?

You can prevent rats from getting to your bed in many ways if you are worried they will bite and hurt you. If you live in a densely forested location or any field where rats are more prevalent, you: 

  • Must ensure that there are no holes inside the walls. You can use cardboard pieces or wooden blocks to seal the holes.
  • Should make sure there is no clutter in your room so rats have nowhere to hide and breed.
  • Should avoid eating in bed because small scrapes are an open invitation to rats.
  • Must clean up any rat droppings and disinfect the floors.
  • Can also have a cat or dog as a pet animal to keep the rats away.
  • Can set mouse traps or use rat poison.
  • Should seek specialized disinfestation service if the rat situation is beyond your control. Though it’s an expensive solution, it is most effective.

Bottom Line

Rats are more afraid of people than people are of them. Except if you directly or indirectly provoke rats, they will not attack you while you sleep. However, at night while you’re sleeping, a rat could crawl over you.

So, it’s ideal if you keep your distance from rats and take precautions to protect yourself from them. And if a rat bites you, it’s better to see a doctor than be sorry later.

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