Do Squirrels carry Rabies? Squirrel bite, diseases, and facts you should know!

do squirrels carry rabies
It is uncommon for squirrels and other small rodents to carry the rabies virus. Since squirrels hardly attack, there are not many documented cases of squirrels transmitting rabies to humans and other animals.

Are squirrels dangerous to humans?

Squirrels are rarely dangerous to humans.

They are skittish creatures that often run away when humans are nearby. Squirrels are capable of biting and scratching humans but hardly ever do. Squirrels may attack when they feel cornered, trapped, or threatened.

Squirrels may also attack when they are sick or protecting baby squirrels. Like other critters, squirrels can carry diseases that cause health issues among humans and pets. These diseases create a dangerous concern for humans.

Can squirrels damage your home?

Squirrels are more dangerous to your house than to you.

Gray squirrels and red squirrels are common in urban areas. They and will cause structural damage while trying to build a nest in or near your home. They can chew through openings, sidings, and vents.

Once inside your property, squirrels will chew through wires, insulation, power cables, and more

Squirrels are wild animals that can destroy your yard and garden. Squirrels dig in yards to find nuts and bulbs to eat. Squirrels will chew on the bark and twigs of vegetation such as trees and shrubs.

Squirrels will eat any food from your gardens, like vegetables and fruits. So although they are not very dangerous to humans, they are destructive to your homes and yards.

Are squirrels dangerous to pets?

Squirrels are not naturally aggressive creatures; their diseases can be dangerous to domestic animals.

Pets can catch several diseases from squirrels, including fleas, ticks, and mites. These diseases are not only a nuisance; they can be deadly if not treated.

Dogs can catch diseases from squirrel feces, but regular vaccinations can avoid these diseases. 

If your pet catches a squirrel, watch for signs of sickness for a few days. Sometimes, though, signs of diseases in pets won’t show for weeks or even months. If your pet shows signs of sickness, take them to the vet.

Symptoms of rabies in pets transmitted from a wild animal include fever, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, staggering, and paralysis.

Signs of mites in dogs and cats include hair loss, dandruff, and scratching. If your pet has ticks, you will find random scabs on their body.

A safe way to ensure your pet does not get infected with a disease from wildlife is to keep them away from squirrels and other small mammals.

Letting your pets watch squirrels from a distance is safe, but you can discourage squirrel chasing and catching. 

squirrel eating a nut in a tree

Do squirrels bite?

Squirrels do not bite unless they are provoked.

Even though squirrels are capable of biting through thick items, squirrel bites don’t cause much injury to humans. Squirrel bites are not severe, and squirrels usually bite as a warning to the human to go away.

Regardless, its best to not pet or feed a squirrel due to the small risk of being bitten and catching diseases. Despite the gentle and kind acts of feeding and petting, squirrels may not understand and will defend themselves.

Do squirrels carry rabies or other diseases?

Squirrels seldom carry the rabies virus.

Bats, raccoons, and skunks are the top carriers of rabies. Squirrels are not one of the leading carriers because they are often eaten when larger mammals attack them.

Squirrels are small mammals that struggle to defend themselves, so they usually lose in an animal attack. Squirrels are more likely to carry other diseases such as:

Additionally, squirrels carry diseases that can be indirectly transmitted to humans and pets.

Squirrels have fleas, mites, and ticks, which they can bring into your yard with simply their presence. Diseases you and your pets can catch from interacting with squirrel feces and urine:

  • Salmonellosis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Ringworm

A squirrel may be sick if it has bald spots, visible tumors, or appears lethargic.

A rabid squirrel has similar signs to other infected animals. They will appear aggressive, confused, and slow-moving. Rabid animals also drool and foam at the mouth.

leaping squirrel in mid air

What to do if a squirrel bites or scratches you?

Squirrel bites and scratches are typically only dangerous if the squirrel is infected with rabies. Symptoms of rabies in humans include weakness, fever, and headache.

If a squirrel bites or scratches you, wash the open wound with soap and water. You can then use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to disinfect it.

As with any animal bite, you should seek medical attention to ensure that your wound is not infected.


Whitney is a graduate of Georgetown College and a current graduate student at the University of the Cumberlands. She resides in the beautiful state of Kentucky, which she has always appreciated and endeavors to maintain the land's well-being. A lover of animals and the earth, Whitney strives to communicate accurate information that will help readers learn new information, ideas, and become informed stewards of the natural world.

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