A lot of people have asked this question. It’s a common myth that squirrels have rabies. The Rabies virus is transmitted through a bite or saliva. Most of the rabies cases in North America come from other animals such as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, and skunks. So do squirrels have rabies? Science says no! But if you want to stay safe, keep reading to discover the facts.
What is Rabies & Do Squirrels Have Rabies?
Rabies is a viral disease most often found in raccoons, foxes, skunks, coyotes, bats. Believe it or not, rabies is found even in cats and dogs. Rabies exposure usually occurs through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. The rabies virus affects humans and other mammals’ brains and spinal cord. The disease is nearly always fatal once symptoms start to show.
There are three types of rabies exposure.
- High-Risk Exposure from a bite wound.
- Moderate-Risk Exposure when the animal’s saliva touches broken skin.
- Low-Risk Exposure when the animal’s saliva touches mucus membranes.
Most people exposed to rabies won’t show signs of infection for weeks or months.
So, Do Squirrels Carry Rabies?
Squirrels rarely have rabies, and in most cases, the virus does not affect them. According to the CDC, small animals like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, mice, rabbits, and hares are rarely infected with rabies and are not known to transmit rabies to humans.
Most cases where humans contracted rabies were from rabid bats or infected bat saliva or brain tissue.
Why do People Ask Do Squirrels Have Rabies?
Because squirrels are common wildlife, they are often the focus of many rabies-related stories. Squirrels are aggressive when they feel threatened, although aggressive behavior alone does not mean they have rabies. People witness their aggression and associate them with having rabies.
If a squirrel has rabies, which is very rare, its behavior is aggressive and strange.
What are the Symptoms of Rabies?
The virus travels through your nerves to your spinal cord and brain. The virus multiplies and eventually causes brain tissue destruction.
The most common symptom of rabies is a fever that lasts for more than one day. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anxiety, confusion, agitation, insomnia, difficulty swallowing, and speaking. Some people will show no symptoms for months after being infected with the virus.
After symptoms begin to show (which may take weeks or months), death usually results within days. If left untreated, rabies is always fatal.
Should You Protect Your Pets Against Rabies?
If you have pets, it is your responsibility to protect them against rabies. Rabies can infect animals of all shapes and sizes, whether domesticated or living in the wild.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pets are responsible for most human rabies cases in the United States. They account for about 55 percent of the estimated number of human exposures to rabies in this country each year.
Pets should be vaccinated against rabies by a veterinarian before 15 months old. A 6-month quarantine after exposure is the treatment if the animal is unvaccinated. The owner must also receive treatment if exposed to rabies during this period.
What Do I Do if I Get Bitten by a Wild Animal?
If you or a loved one is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Then seek medical attention immediately.
If possible, provide details regarding the animal’s behavior. The information helps determine if the animal has rabies.
The doctor’s protocol is to administer a rabies vaccine. The medical facility will report the incident to local authorities to attempt to identify the animal involved. Always follow the physician’s medical advice and instructions on the best to proceed with follow-up care.
If you see a sick or injured animal acting strangely and aggressively, don’t try to help it. Call animal control or the police.
What Should You Do if a Squirrel or Wild Animal bites a Pet?
Immediately take your pet to the vet if it has been bitten by a squirrel or wild animal. The doctor will clean the wound and confirm that your pet’s rabies vaccine is updated. The veterinarian will administer a vaccine if your pet’s vaccination records are unknown or out of date.
Conclusion to Do Squirrels Have Rabies
Rabies is a virus almost exclusively transmitted by the bite of an infected animal. Two-thirds of the people who die from rabies are children under 15. Rabies is a severe disease that can affect both humans and animals.
If an animal bit you, wash the wound thoroughly and consult your physician.
It is also important to vaccinate your pets against rabies. If you own a pet, keep them indoors or on a leash, so they do not come into contact with other animals.
If you have any concerns about rabies in your community, contact your local animal control office. They can help you identify and take precautions.
If you would like to learn more about squirrels and rabies, hop on over to Do Squirrels Carry Rabies? Find Out Here.
Subscribe to our VIP Squirrel Tails monthly magazine to keep up with the latest happenings at Kitty City Squirrels!