Signs & Symptoms of Rabies in Squirrels

By Clara Maxwell
squirrel on ledge
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According to the Center for Disease Control, rabid squirrels are extremely rare. (See References 1.) Although any mammal can contract rabies, rodents and rabbits are not considered animals of concern as either carriers or transmitters of the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

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According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, signs and symptoms of rabies infection in squirrels may include lethargy, extreme aggression, immobility or difficulty moving. (See References 2.)

Normal Squirrel Behavior

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Healthy squirrels can be noisy, bold and curious. They often chatter and make scolding sounds at humans and dogs. Rambunctious behavior in squirrels does not denote rabies.

Squirrels and Rabies

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According to veterinarian Laura Hungerford, DVM, Ph.D., scientists speculate that small animals, including squirrels, are more likely than larger animals to die from a bite inflicted by a rabid animal, and do not survive long enough to develop symptoms. (See References 3.)

Rare Case

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On Dec. 12, 2003, USA Today reported on the first confirmed case of squirrel rabies in 12 years in the state of Pennsylvania.

Woodchucks and Rabies

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Woodchucks account for the vast majority of rabies cases among rodents, although their numbers are still low relative to animals such as raccoons or bats.

Action

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A bite from a wild rodent should be reported to local or state health departments.

About the Author

Clara Maxwell is a freelance print and web writer. She writes on a wide range of subjects and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University.