10-Year-Old Boy Dies After Pet Rat Bites Him (VIDEO)

aidan pankeyThis scary news will make you reconsider buying rodents from a pet store. Ten-year-old Aidan Pankey died after his pet rat bit him. Now his family is suing the pet store that sold the rat. His grandmother bought the boy the rat two weeks earlier, and Aiden named it "Alex." But after playing with Alex, Aiden woke up with a fever and a tummy ache. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital, but he died within hours.

Doctors say Aidan died of streptobacillus moniliformis, also known as rat-bite fever. His family had no idea the rat was so dangerous -- they say it appeared perfectly healthy. Now they're suing Petco for failing to ensure they were selling healthy rats and failing to prevent their animals from becoming infected. 

Petco won't respond directly about the lawsuit, but they did say they are "deeply saddened by the ... family’s tragic loss. The health and safety of people and pets is always a top priority and we take the family’s concerns very seriously.” They say they are investigating the incident.

First of all, I feel terrible for the family. What an awful loss -- and from a gift, too. This shouldn't happen to anyone.

I'm floored that this could happen! Like Aidan's family, I've bought pets from chain pet stores -- little hamsters. The same thing could have happened to my child. It's never occurred to me to question the health of an animal so long as it looks and acts healthy. But now, I will be a lot more wary of pet store pets in the future.

Have you ever heard of a pet store animal making a human sick?


Image via KTLA

death, pets


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amazz... amazzonia


nonmember avatar lilah

I think there is a world of difference between pet cats and dogs and a "pet" rodent. Vermin should not be considered pets. I realize they no longer carry the bubonic plague but apparently they can still infect you with other deadly viruses. The grandmother and all other adults in that house are loony.

work4... work4mickey

Lilah, you are the one that is Loony. Rats make great pets, especially if you live in an appartment and are not allowed larger mamals. Some people (like yourself) just have an aversion to them. There's nothing wrong with that, except you're judging people for not having the same aversion. Rats have excelent personalities, kinda like a dog.

I looked it up, and rat bite fever is rare. This is not something that was to be expected, especially from a domesticated (non-wild) rat.

Oddly, the few pet rats I have had problems with, were from chain stores. I suspect they breed them much the way puppy mills breed dogs (too many litters, inbreeding, crowded conditions, ect.) which may have been a factor in this.

Also, it was a bacteria, not a virus.

nonmember avatar Use some logic

Have you never heard of "cat scratch fever"?

Did you know sheep and goats can pass Q-fever?

Reptiles can carry salmonella

nonmember avatar Use some logic

Have you never heard of "cat scratch fever"?

Did you know sheep and goats can pass Q-fever?

Reptiles can carry salmonella...

(That sent before I was ready!!)

Humans carry a huge number of diseases, colds, viruses that are passed between one another. Yet we don't hate humans, we wash our hands, and call our dr to check in if something concerning happens. Zoonotic diseases are less common but hardly mean an animal is no longer pet material. Rats are very smart and personable, they can learn tricks and clearly recognize individuals. Most rats bred as pets never bite, they are bred to be calm and relaxed. But animals are animals; they don't have morals and values as humans do. Although too many people expect them to!

the4m... the4mutts

We have had rats and mice for YEARS. We breed the mice to feed to our snakes, and the rats are kept as pets. The mother mice are also kept as pets after having 3 litters. We're not about to breed them to death.

Point is, if a rodent bites you, you should wash with anti-bacterial soap, then cleanse with alcohol and peroxide. And ALWAYS wash after handling a rodent either way. As great as they are, they walk around in their own piss & shit. Nobody should just handle that, then go eat or whatever. EW.

Im not trying to blame the family here either. They have suffered a tragic loss that I can't imagine.

But Im hoping my comment with educate someone reading it, so that they know, even if a rodent is healthy, YOU NEED TO PROTECT YOURSELF. Rodent poo is not something you want to be eating if it's on your hands, or have scratched/bitten into your skin

Samantha Romaine

I feel so bad for the family and can't imagine what they are going through. I don't really agree with the lawsuit though. Isn't it the job of the parents to research a pet before buying one for their child? It's just a thought!

nonmember avatar lilah

They're still vermin. When was the last time you saw cat poison or dog poison for sale at the store. That's right you didn't because cats and dogs are not pests to be exterminated.

Aoife... Aoife_Of_2

I don't buy at Petco or Petsmart. I talked to the lady at Petsmart and she said that they don't normally handle the animals and she had band aids all over her fingers and hands. I bought our gerbils from a local pet shop were they have children from K up to high school volunteer and come in to hold and take care of the animals. My boys love going there to hold the animals and feed them. Our gerbils are so sweet and loving. We are always carrying them around. 

Research were you get your pets from. Prayers to the family. 

nonmember avatar Use some logic

The store doesn't sell dog poison because our tax money pays for dog catchers and animal control. Surely you are aware of the diseases and dangers of stray animals, which is why there is an attempt to control it. Dogs, cats, rats, mice, all in wild or stray prpulations can carry disease and be harmful to humans. Is the dog in your house disgusting, mangy and rabid? I hope not. Pet rats are a far cry from a wild rat.

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