Rats often have a bad reputation for being dirty and carrying loads of diseases. However, according to a new study, these preconceptions may be unfair as they were found to carry no more pathogens than other mammals.
In a study by Georgetown University, they examined 3,000 mammal species and looked for how many diseases they are known to carry. They found that mammals found in urban environments like rats, mice, and pigeons, had ten times more disease-causing microorganisms than the same mammals in rural areas.
However, the researchers realized that these findings did not tell the whole story. They discovered that in the research they studied, urban animals were 100 times better studied, and when they accounted for the sampling bias, they found the pattern disappeared. It turned out city animals were no more likely to carry these diseases than any other critters.
The author of the study, Dr. Gregory Albery, told The Telegraph that it’s normal to assume that animals living in the city would carry more diseases because they live so close to humans and all of the waste that we produce.
“We’ve looked more at animals in our cities, so we’ve found more of their parasites—and we’ve started to hit diminishing returns,” he said.
Lead Image Source : Maciej Olszewski/Shutterstock.
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