At first blush, an article on identifying rat droppings properly and effectively may seem like an overblown exercise. Indeed, at this moment you may be asking yourself “why in the world do I need to spend my time reading an article on rat poop?”
The truth is rat droppings can be highly dangerous. The only sure way you can adequately protect yourself from the hazardous pathogens that potentially lurk in rat droppings is to know what this type of animal waste looks like in the first place. This article is designed to present to you all the essential information you will require in regard to rat droppings.
Before diving directly into the machinations of identifying rat droppings, a moment spent on discussing why rat feces can present a serious, and even potentially fatal, health risk is valuable. There are a number of serious diseases that can be spread through exposure to rat droppings.
Diseases Spread Through Rat Droppings
Two diseases are of particular concern to people in the United States when it comes to rat droppings. Bear in mind that these are not the only two diseases that spread through rat feces. Rather, these are just a couple of the diseases that warrant your immediate consideration.
Salmonella is one of the diseases that has the potential of being spread via rat droppings. This disease often transfers from rat droppings to humans through the consumption of food contaminated with this waste. For example, bulk food items in a restaurant storage room may end up contaminated with rat droppings. The bulk food item is then used in the preparation of a dish that is served to patrons. If the rat was carrying the salmonella bacterium, that can be spread through that animal’s rat dropping. Ultimately, it can be consumed by a human.
In most cases, infection by salmonella does not prove fatal. On the other hand, a person can become quite ill when suffering from a salmonella infection.
In a considerable majority of cases involving salmonella, a person will not die. There are instances when salmonella proves fatal. In most instances in which a person dies because of exposure to salmonella, that individual was already suffering from some other type of health issue. In the alternative, a person who dies from salmonella is also apt to be elderly or very young.
The other disease to be aware of that is transmitted via rat droppings is hantavirus. A person infected with the strain of hantavirus found in the United States has more than a 30 percent chance of dying of what is known as hantavirus pulmonary syndrome.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is a hemorrhagic condition. What this means in the case of hantavirus is that the virus itself attacks the capillaries in a person’s lungs. This causes blood to poor into the lungs, with life threatening consequences.
Distinguishing Features of Rat Droppings
There exist a number of tell-tale signs that you have rats in your home or business. These include:
- Gnaw marks
- Holes and marks on food packages
- Rat droppings
Indeed, in the grand scheme of things, droppings many times are the first sign that you have rats in your residence or place of business. Rat droppings appear different from mouse droppings. Mice leave tiny droppings that appear rod-shaped. Mice droppings tend to be about the size of a grain of rice.
On the other hand, rat droppings are larger, typically about a quarter to half inch long. Rat droppings sometimes are described as looking like a spindle.
When moist, rat droppings are dark in color and may appear shiny. As they dry, they turn a shade of gray.
An important point to bear in mind about dry rat droppings is that they remain hazardous. Bacteria like salmonella and viruses like hantavirus do not “die” merely because rat dropping dry out. The feces can remain infectious.
Dried rat dropping fall apart or crumble easily, which is another distinctive feature of them. They literally crumble upon touch. Absent being decked out in full personal protective equipment, you most definitely do not want to cause rat droppings to crumble.
If rat droppings are contaminated with something like hantavirus, and they dry out and crumble, dust containing the virus becomes airborne. When breathed in, a person can become infected by the hantavirus or, theoretically, some other harmful pathogen.
As an aside, if you identify rat droppings (or mice droppings) at your home or business, you should consider seriously engaging the services of a professional rat dropping cleanup specialist. This is the safest and surest way to eliminate or eradicate rat droppings.