Do Squirrels carry Rabies?

Rabies is a contagious virus that is spread through animal bites. Because of this, it creates some curiosity for you to know if squirrels do carry rabies. 

If a squirrel bites you, your first concern would be if it can transmit the deadly rabies virus so you can seek medical attention. Rabies is very dangerous, and so it becomes crucial to get proper treatment.

After having your facts right on whether squirrels carry rabies, you will be better prepared to handle any situation you find yourself in, regarding squirrel bites.

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do Squirrels carry Rabies?

You may have concerns about contracting rabies from squirrels. What would happen if a squirrel were to bite you or a loved one? Is it possible for squirrels to transmit rabies through the bite?

The simple answer is yes and no. It is proven to be very rare for squirrels to have rabies. Squirrels are small mammals making them a low risk for contracting rabies from other infected animals.

However, that does not mean you need to rule out the possibility of squirrels transmitting rabies to humans. All warm-blooded animals can transmit rabies to humans through bites or exposure, and squirrels are not an exception.

If an animal suffering from rabies bit a squirrel, there is a possibility of rabies being transmitted to it. It is always paramount to seek medical attention if a squirrel bites you or your animal.

The essential element to remember is that a squirrel can carry rabies even if relatively rare, just like any other mammal. To be safe, follow the proper precautions that will keep you or your favorite animal safe from rabies.

do squirrels carry rabies? yes and no.
A squirrel with rabies may act aggressively and in a crazy way

Signs and Symptoms of Rabies

After understanding that squirrels can contract rabies and transmit it, it would be necessary to learn some of the rabies’ symptoms. Most people associate rabies with animals going crazy or ‘nuts,’ as squirrels with rabies would normally exhibit these behaviors.

While that may not entirely be true, it cannot be said to be false. Any animal with rabies tends to behave in an unusual way that may be associated with crazy behavior. What are some of these signs?

signs to tell if your backyard squirrels carry rabies [source: Ask About Movies]

Sign #1: Lack of Fear

It is usual for squirrels to fear even if they are used to receiving food from humans. However, if a squirrel were to show no fear when approaching you, be extra careful as it may have rabies.

The squirrel will appear to have unusual docility. That means losing their animal instinct of being extra cautious when approaching humans. Any squirrel that is unusually calm should be approached with a lot of caution.

Sign #2 Behavioral Changes 

This sign involves observing a squirrel for a long time to gauge some changes that have presented themselves. If you are used to squirrels within your backyard, you should tell when they show behavior changes.

In most cases, a squirrel will exhibit aggressive behavior. Being aggressive to animals it had no problem with before is a clear sign it may have rabies. Mood changes will also be displayed by a squirrel that has rabies.

Sign #3 Attacking Humans

If a squirrel attacks you from nowhere, that should be a clear sign of rabies. Apart from attacking humans, squirrels with rabies may lose their sense of direction and balance. If you find a squirrel without balance, be very careful. 

Don’t approach any squirrel that is running in circles since it may just have rabies. Running in circles is a clear sign that the squirrel has lost balance. It is a clear sign of chaotic behavior.

Sign #4 Foaming at The Mouth

A squirrel with the rabies virus Foaming At The Mouth. [source: Bumble Bree]

Most people are very well aware of this sign since it is usually associated with rabies. The foaming at the mouth happens because of throat paralysis. This paralysis causes the squirrel to be unable to swallow its saliva.

Squirrel Bite: What Should You Do?

Now that it is pretty clear to you that your pet or farm animal can contract rabies from a squirrel, should you have concerns when it bites? Once a squirrel bites, there are several things to undertake to ensure your safety.

First of all, if a squirrel were to bite you, be sure to visit the nearest hospital. You may not have contacted the rabies virus in most cases, but you should not take any chances. 

The wound needs to be tested before being cleared. Apart from the test, provide enough details regarding the behavior of the squirrel. If you encountered an aggressive squirrel, be sure to say so for wildlife agencies to be aware.

Secondly, what should you do if your pet is bitten instead by the squirrel? Without thinking twice, you should first head to the veterinary. It is crucial to do so because the wound needs to be checked for any rabies infection.

Most pets receive a rabies vaccination, but that should not mean you have to take chances. The visit will also help the veterinary make the necessary report to wildlife agencies in case of an outbreak.

Do I Need A Rabies Shot for A Squirrel Bite?

If a squirrel bites you, what exactly should you do? Will it be necessary for you to go for a rabies shot? It is essential to go to a hospital or clinic if bitten by a squirrel. 

The decision on whether to get a rabies shot or not lies entirely on what the doctor recommends. Once the doctor has done all the necessary tests, they will decide on whether to give the rabies shot to you.

In most cases, the squirrel bites do not have any infection. That is because it is uncommon for squirrels to transmit rabies. However, do not avoid going to the hospital. Seeking medical attention is essential for your safety.

Remember that squirrels interact with other animals in the wild which are prone to rabies. Since you cannot tell which squirrel has rabies and which one does not, be sure to seek medical attention if a squirrel bites you. Especially a wild squirrel.

Once you seek medical attention, you will get appropriate advice on whether to get a rabies shot or not. Always be extremely careful when you are around squirrels. Squirrels are known to be friendly; however, be cautious.

What to Do If A Squirrel Bites You?

Squirrels are known to be friendly. It should, therefore, be strange for you to hear of a squirrel biting. Yet, it is possible to be bitten by a squirrel. Take the example of a mother squirrel with its kitten.

A squirrel is always very protective of its young. A squirrel would not hesitate to bite you if you were a threat to its kitten. It shouldn’t amaze you to hear a squirrel biting human beings.

Also, squirrels will intuitively attack you if they feel threatened. Any squirrel that feels threatened is going to defend itself. What do you need to do if a squirrel bites you?

A squirrel bite will differ depending on the attack. Some squirrel bites are deep, while others are not so deep. However, if a squirrel were to attack you, it is essential to go to the nearest hospital or clinic.

Seeking medical attention is necessary because you do not want to get rabies. Once tests are carried out on your wound, you need the right antibiotics to help with the squirrel bite.

What Diseases do/Can Squirrels Carry?

It is a fact that squirrels rarely transmit rabies to you or your pet. However, rabies is not the only worry you should have when a squirrel bite happens. What are some diseases that squirrels can transmit through bites?

Squirrels can transmit several diseases if they bite you. Some common diseases include ringworm, typhus, plague, and tularemia. Once a squirrel bites, you are at a higher risk of being infected with such diseases.

Squirrels also carry parasites that can transmit diseases caused by the said parasites. These tiny parasites, such as mites, ticks, and fleas, transmit harmful diseases to humans.  Encephalitis and rocky mountain spotted fever are good examples of such diseases.

You should, therefore, be very careful when handling squirrels. Any squirrels within your compound can cause such diseases, and it becomes necessary to be cautious to avoid contacting such conditions from interactions you have with squirrels.

Always remember that squirrels carry diseases such as tularemia and typhus, which are deadly if untreated. By having this knowledge, you can interact more cautiously with squirrels. This also implies that when a squirrel bites, seek treatment immediately.

Once you get the proper treatment, you should be able to avoid such squirrel diseases. Also, if a squirrel bites your pet, be sure to have a veterinary check-up on it for the sake of its health. 

Wrapping Up

When you think about squirrels spreading rabies, you have nothing to worry about, especially if the squirrel is a captive breed. Squirrels have a shallow risk of spreading rabies when compared to other mammals. Common mammals known to spread rabies include foxes, skunks, coyotes, bats, and raccoons.  

For instance, pets like cats and dogs can also spread rabies if not vaccinated against it. However, when you think of squirrels, the main concern should not be rabies; instead, other diseases spread through contact. 

You may not get rabies from squirrels but can be infected with typhus or tularemia if bitten. To be safe, always see a doctor if bitten by a squirrel. It is better to be safe by avoiding the avoidable.