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The Difference Between a Wild Rat Infestation and Domestic Rats

Wild Rat Infestation

One person sits on a subway bench in pity as they contemplate rescuing the rat that just scampered across the platform, while the second, standing on his balcony, wonders why Jane next door keeps referring to those rats in her living room as pets.

Both parties don’t realize that besides both being rats, there are significant physical, behavioral, and temperamental differences between wild rats and domesticated rats. Consequently, there is a difference between a wild rat infestation and keeping domestic rats.

Understanding the Difference Between a Wild Rat Infestation and Domestic Rats

Wild rats are adapted to survive in wild environments, while domesticated rats, also known as fancy rats, have evolved over the years to adapt to the human world. Below is a discussion of some of the significant differences between wild and domesticated rats:

Behavior around humans

Wild rats are tenacious and frantic. They might accept scraps from you, but that’s as far as that relationship goes. They scamper away at any attempt to make contact. If you look closely, you may also notice that wild rats puff their fur in the presence of a human.

On the other hand, domesticated rats are tame and receptive to human attention. They are more likely to walk towards you than run from you.

Color differences

Domesticated rats originated from the brown rat, which essentially is what is currently the wild rat. However, after domestication, they now come in different colors from years of cross-bleeding.

Otherwise, wild rats are usually brown with a lighter shade of brown underbelly or black with a white underbelly.

Body shape

Wild rats are lean and sleek. This streamlined body form is essential for survival in the wild. Domestic rats, on the other hand, are rotund.


Domestic rats carry themselves in a more relaxed gait compared to wild rats. The latter, unless sick, are always standing on their fours with a slightly arched back, ready to run. 

Hygiene, health, and sanitary differences

Domesticated rats are harmless and pose no risks to humans. Wild rats, on the other end, pose serious health hazards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that wild rats and mice carry over 35 zoonoses

Humans can contract diseases from rat bites, contact with the rat, feces, or urine. Some of the diseases spread by wild rats include the following:

  • Lyme disease
  • Hantavirus
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Salmonellosis

How to Control a Wild Rat Infestation

Most rat infestation control methods, including rat traps, maze traps, and rat poison, are inhumane and lethal. The best way to control a wild rat infestation is to prevent the infestation from happening in the first place. This entails adhering to proper trash management and sealing off all potential entryways. 

Enlist Shumaker Animal Control to Get Rid of Wild Rats

If you’ve a wild rat infestation in Maryland, reach out to Shumaker Animal Control today. We pride ourselves on using humane animal control methods. After removal, we will inspect your property and seal off all areas that wild rats might use to enter your home.

Call us directly at (443) 854-8072 or contact us via our website. We’ll be glad to share more on the difference between a wild rat infestation and domestic rats.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 13th, 2022 at 8:13 am . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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