Do Squirrels have Rabies? What You Need to Know Now!

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.

Do Squirrels have Rabies

Do Squirrels Have Rabies?

According to the CDC, squirrels are rarely infected with rabies and are not known to transmit rabies to humans.

What is 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.

People Often 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.

Do Squirrels have Rabies - squirrel outside on step
Fox squirrel

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 rabies symptom is a fever lasting more than one day. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, anxiety, confusion, agitation, insomnia, and 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.

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Should You Protect Your Pets Against Rabies?

If you have pets, you must 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 this country’s estimated number of human rabies exposures 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 rodent 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 outdated.

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.

Contact your local animal control office if you have any concerns about rabies in your community. They can help you identify and take precautions.

If you want to learn more about squirrels and rabies, hop on over to Do Squirrels Carry Rabies? Find Out Here.

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23 Comments

  1. Really glad to see articles discussing rabies exposure in less common animals like squirrels. It’s super vital info for both our safety and the animals’. Props to you, Merideth Sweeney, for shedding light on this!

  2. Interesting read. I was particularly drawn to the section about protecting pets against rabies. Are there specific vaccines for different types of animals, or is there a one-size-fits-all rabies vaccine?

  3. I think its important to note that while the article mentions squirrels can carry rabies, it’s extremely rare for them to transmit it to humans. The bigger concern are animals like bats and raccoons.

  4. Loved the part about what to do if bitten by a wild animal. It’s easy to panic in those situations, so having a guide is massively helpful.

  5. I’ve always heard squirrels don’t really get rabies. Seems like there’s more to worry about with stray dogs and cats than a squirrel.

  6. So happy to see people talking about how to keep our furry friends safe from rabies. It’s something every pet owner should be aware of. Great article!

  7. It’s imperative we balance our knowledge on animal diseases like rabies with efforts to protect our wildlife. Every creature plays a role in the ecosystem.

  8. Imagine getting chased by a rabid squirrel. That’s like a horror movie on fast forward. But seriously, stay safe out there, folks.

  9. Really interesting article, Merideth. I’ve always wondered about rabies in smaller animals. Is the rabies vaccine effective for all types of exposure mentioned, or are there specific treatments needed?

  10. Huh, always thought squirrels were more of a rabies risk. Good info. Makes sense why you don’t hear about it much.

  11. While I appreciate the depth here, I do think it’s worth mentioning that while rare, non-zero means there’s still a risk. Always caution.

  12. so glad to read this, was super worried my dog might get rabies from chasing squirrels. good to know it’s not common!

  13. Fantastic article detailing the importance of rabies prevention, not just for us humans but our pets too. Reminded me to book a vet visit for my cat!

  14. Squirrels with rabies, the next big horror movie plot? I’d watch that. But seriously, cool article.

  15. An informative piece, certainly. However, the segment on rabies symptoms could benefit from a more detailed explanation regarding progression stages in humans and animals for clarity.

  16. need to know, how long after a bite should you wait to see if symptoms show up? asking for my kid, got scratched by a squirrel.

  17. It’s reassuring to learn that squirrels aren’t common carriers of rabies. Makes my hikes a bit less stressful.

  18. Back in my day, we didn’t need an article to tell us to be careful around wild animals. Common sense isn’t so common anymore, it seems.

  19. So you’re telling me my chances of turning into a were-squirrel are slim? There goes my weekend plans.

  20. Actually, while squirrels are low risk for rabies transmission, it’s critical not to underestimate the importance of vaccination. Pre-exposure vaccination is crucial for those at high risk.

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