Citrus County Health Department
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) rodent resources:
Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be spread from other animal to humans, and rodents are know to spread as many as 35 different diseases to humans worldwide. These diseases can be spread through direct contact with rodents or their feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Being bitten by ticks mites, or fleas that have been feeding on sick rodents can also spread diseases. The information on this page may help home and pet owners avoid diseases from rodents.
Wild rodents can cause home damage, contaminate food, and cause illness in people and pets. Rodent infestations are more likely to occur when events such as flooding displace them. To avoid rodent infestation remove potential rodent food and water sources, and store food for people and pets in sealed containers. Clear debris and other material that rodents can hide in. Safely clean up rodent droppings, urine and nesting areas, always wearing gloves and spraying material with disinfectant until thoroughly soaked before attempting to remove or clean.
Rodents as Pets
Purchase your pet rodent from a reputable vendor who has an active health monitoring program, and select animals that have good body weight and hair coat and no obvious signs of illness. Rodents are not ideal pets for young children as they do not reliably wash their hands and often have more severe illness if exposed to zoonotic infections (diseases that spread from animals to people) from their pets. Due to their small size, rodents are also easily injured, and small children may accidentally cause serious injuries to the animal and possibly be bitten.
If you do purchase a pet rodent, take your new pet to your veterinarian for a health assessment and follow that with regular check-ups. Always remember to thoroughly wash your hands after handling rodents or their cages/bedding, clean your pet's cage regularly and in a well-aerated area, avoid contact between your pet and wild rodents, and do not kiss or hold pet rodents close to your face. Young children should not handle rodents, and pregnant woman should avoid contact or being in confined spaces with rodents.