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
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
Healthy squirrels can be noisy, bold and curious. They often chatter and make scolding sounds at humans and dogs. Rambunctious behaviour in squirrels does not denote rabies.
Squirrels and Rabies
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.)
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
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.
A bite from a wild rodent should be reported to local or state health departments.
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