Do Squirrels Carry Rabies? (Myth Busted)

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There is a lot of misinformation out there about rabies. Some people believe that any wild animal can carry the virus, while others think that it’s only bats and raccoons that are at risk. So, what do you need to know about rabies and squirrels? Are they a danger to humans? Can they spread the disease? In this blog post, we’ll answer all your questions and set the record straight. Keep reading to learn more.

What is Rabies and How is it Transmitted?

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the nervous system and can be fatal. It’s usually transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, but it can also be spread if saliva from an infected animal gets into an open wound or the eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus then travels to the brain, where it causes inflammation and eventually death.

Do Squirrels Carry Rabies?

The short answer is no, squirrels do not carry rabies. Small rodents (like squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice) and lagomorphs (including rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to transmit rabies to humans.

There are several reasons why squirrels are not a major risk for spreading rabies. Squirrels are small in size and have rapid metabolism. For example, if a rabid animal bites a squirrel, then the squirrel will die within a few hours. That’s why small rodents like squirrels, rats, and mice are unlikely to get infected by each other and spread the rabies infection. The rabies virus kills these small rodents within a few hours of being bitten before transmitting to other animals.

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What animals carry rabies?

In the United States, bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are the most common animals that carry rabies. Squirrels are much less likely to be infected with the virus. In fact, there have been only two documented cases of squirrel-to-human rabies transmission in the United States, both of which occurred in 2003.

So, while it is technically possible for a squirrel to carry rabies, it’s extremely rare. If you are bitten by a squirrel, the chances of contracting the disease are very low.

Signs and Symptoms of Rabies in Squirrels

If a squirrel does happen to contract rabies, there are several signs and symptoms that you might see. These include:

-Paralysis of the hind legs

-Inability to eat or drink

-Excessive salivation or drooling

-Aggressive behavior

-Foaming at the mouth

-Incoordination

– Neurological problems

If you see a squirrel exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your local animal control or wildlife agency immediately. They will be able to safely remove the animal and test it for rabies. Do not attempt to capture the animal yourself.

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Can You Get Rabies from Touching a Squirrel?

No, you cannot get rabies from touching a squirrel. The virus can only be transmitted through a bite or contact with saliva or other bodily fluids from an infected animal. So, even if a squirrel has rabies, you won’t contract the disease simply by petting it or touching its fur.

However, it’s still important to use caution when approaching any wild animal. Squirrels are wild animals and they can carry other diseases (like typhus and leptospirosis) that can be transmitted to humans. They can also carry fleas and ticks that can transmit these diseases to your pets. So, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid contact with wild animals whenever possible.

Treatment for a Squirrel Bite

If you are bitten by a squirrel, the first thing you should do is wash the wound with soap and water for at least 5 minutes. Then, seek medical attention immediately. Your doctor will assess the risk of infection and determine if you need to receive any vaccinations or other treatment.

Can Squirrels Give Rabies to Dogs?

No, squirrels cannot give rabies to dogs. The virus can only be transmitted through a bite or contact with saliva or other bodily fluids from an infected animal. So, even if a squirrel has rabies, your dog won’t contract the disease simply by being in contact with it.

However, it’s still important to use caution when your dog is around wild animals. Squirrels are wild animals and they can carry other diseases (like typhus and leptospirosis) that can be transmitted to dogs. They can also carry fleas and ticks that can transmit these diseases to your pet. So, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid contact with wild animals whenever possible.

Squirrels May Carry Other Diseases

While squirrels are not known to carry rabies, they can carry other diseases that can be transmitted to humans. These include:

-Typhus: Typhus is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected fleas or lice. Symptoms of typhus include fever, headache, and rash. If left untreated, typhus can lead to serious complications or even death.

-Leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted to humans through contact with contaminated water or soil. Symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, headache, and muscle pain. If left untreated, leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage or failure.

(Do Squirrels Eat Meat? See this post for more)

FAQs

How soon after being bitten should I seek medical attention?

If you’ve been bitten by any animal, it’s important to clean the wound and seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if the animal does not appear to be sick, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you can’t get to a doctor right away, call your local animal control or police department and they can help you decide what to do.

Can I get rabies from a petting zoo?

No, you cannot get rabies from petting animals at a petting zoo. The animals in these types of zoos are typically vaccinated against the virus and are closely monitored for any signs of illness. However, it’s still important to wash your hands after petting any animal, as there may be other diseases that they can transmit.

Should I be worried about contracting rabies if I live in an area with a lot of squirrels?

No, you don’t need to worry about contracting rabies from squirrels if you live in an area where they are common. As we mentioned before, squirrels are very unlikely to be infected with the virus. Even if they were infected, they would likely die within a few hours due to their small size and rapid metabolism. So, the chances of a squirrel spreading the rabies virus to humans are very low.

Conclusion

To sum up, there is always a small chance that any animal could be infected with rabies, but it’s very unlikely in the case of squirrels. So, if you see one acting strangely, there’s no need to panic. Just keep your distance and call your local animal control or wildlife agency for advice. (See this post for more)

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