It’s bad enough being bitten by a rat. But it’s particularly humiliating and distressing to be bitten on the penis.
That’s what an American claimed to have endured recently, when he’d been locked up for a short spell in a rodent infested prison cell near New York. He said that the rat came out of a mattress and bit him twice, once once on his hand and once in a much more intimate location.
He was probably attacked by the extremely common Norwegian or Norway Rat, also known as the Brown Rat. These are the dirty, unpleasant rodents that thrive on the rubbish we too often leave around us. With their sharp teeth these sewer-loving vermin are a major pest control problem, gnawing through wood and thick plastics on their relentless search for something to devour.
The chances of being bitten by a rat are relatively low in Britain, if official statistics are to be believed. But rats aren’t the only pest that can attack with their teeth.
We were all shocked by the headlines, last June, which reported how an urban fox viciously injured twin baby girls as they slept in their Hackney home. More recently a female lawyer lost part of an ear to a fox in Fulham and woman from Sussex had the tip of a finger bitten off by one as she slept.
Other furred vermin, such as Grey Squirrels and Mice, can also inflict a nasty injury with their teeth. But quite aside from the shock and pain of being unexpectedly bitten, victims also risk catching something very unpleasant from their attackers.
The American man who suffered the unfortunate bite complained that he’d subsequently been forced to endure a series of injections to protect him from rabies. While British pests are highly unlikely to carry this disease, they can transmit a host of other potentially fatal conditions including Weil’s disease, salmonella and tuberculosis.
Anyone unlucky enough to be bitten by a Rodent or fox should get medical help. In 2007 a Sussex businessman died after he was bitten by a pet rat and ignored advice from NHS Direct, who told him to visit his doctor.