Squirrels are usually skittish animals; they prefer to run instead of fighting back. A squirrel will not bite unless it feels threatened, so the odds of being bitten by a squirrel are very low. However, you should still know what to do in case it happens in the future.
What to do when a squirrel bites you? When a squirrel bites you, you should immediately wash the wound with soap and water. Follow up with a disinfecting solution; hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol are both great options. Squirrels can transfer several diseases, so you should contact your doctor when you can.
If a squirrel bites you, it is worth knowing that rabies is not one of the diseases these animals are likely to transfer. This article will cover the essential information you need to understand what happens if you get bit by a squirrel.
Squirrel Bite Information
If a squirrel bites you, always clean the wound thoroughly first. This process prevents infection, which would lead to several other complications as your injury heals. It is worth noting; it is not hard to avoid a squirrel bite- as long as you do not provoke the animal, it will leave you alone.
There are cases where someone is bitten by a squirrel when removing it from their property. However, as long as you wear thick gloves when handling the animal or use a humane trap, you should be able to catch them without incident.
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Do Squirrels Bite?
Squirrels can bite, although they rarely do. Squirrels bite each other, though. They fight each other if they find another one lurking in their territory. Like many other animals, squirrels defend their home and keep others away from their food stores.
These animals will warn you by chirping and twitching their tail before they bite. If you notice these aggressive behaviors, be sure to step away from the squirrel.
Do Squirrels Bite Humans?
Squirrels can bite you if you get too close, and they feel threatened though they will generally run away from people. Many people also get bitten trying to feed squirrels from their hands.
Many people love feeding squirrels in their yards. However, you will want to leave food out for them instead of trying to hand-feed them. If the squirrel gets scared while your hand is nearby, it will likely scratch or bite you.
While these rodents instinctively avoid humans, there are cases where you may be close to them. Squirrels can mistake your hand for food if you feed them often, leading to an accidental bite. Squirrels also can attack when threatened if they feel like they can’t run away, so never corner one of these critters.
Related: How To Get Rid of Squirrels?
Do Squirrels Bite Dogs?
A squirrel can bite a dog if they get close enough. Usually, what happens is your pet is very curious about the squirrel and ends up chasing it. If the squirrel can’t find a way to escape, it might try to fight back. However, these situations mostly end up with the squirrel getting away.
You will want to bring your dog to the vet. While there, a professional will take a look at the wound and clean it for you. When they finish, they may suggest a treatment or offer a prescription for your pet.
What Does a Squirrel Bite Look Like?
Squirrel bites are small and usually look like a couple of red dots on your skin. If it becomes infected, the area will be red and inflamed, making it painful to touch. Be sure you visit a doctor if you notice the injury becomes infected- the sooner you call them, the better.
Why Do Squirrels Bite?
Squirrels might bite for two main reasons. They may accidentally bite when you are giving them food, or they can lash out when they feel threatened if you get too close.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Squirrels Mistake You for Food
If you are attempting to hand-feed a squirrel, they may accidentally bite you. When people feed squirrels, they become more comfortable with them. However, this also means they get more confident in taking food from you. When trying to bite a piece of food, they may also accidentally get your finger.
Plus, once a squirrel associates you with food, they may expect it even when you have none. If you feed squirrels in your yard, leaving food out for them is much safer than trying to hand-feed them.
2. Squirrels Feel Threatened by You
You need to remember that squirrels are wild animals, not pets. If they feel threatened, they will lash out. You want to make sure they have escape routes if you are close to one, so it chooses to run away instead of fight.
If you come across a squirrel outside, they aren’t going to attack you. However, if you chase the squirrel or pick it up, you’ll likely get bitten.
They may bite if you find one inside and try to remove them. It’s recommended to leave a humane trap in the attack for a few hours with seeds or peanut butter. They will enter the trap to have a snack; then, you can safely remove them from your home without having to interact with them too much.
What to Do if You Get Bitten by a Squirrel?
Here’s what you should do if you get bitten by a squirrel:
Step 1: Wash the area with warm water and soap.
Step 2: Disinfect the wound with rubbing alcohol.
Step 3: Use a bandage to cover the wound.
Step 4: Go to the hospital or see a doctor.
When it comes to squirrel bite treatment, make sure that you wash the wound first. These injuries are not severe, but you need to do everything you can to avoid infection as it heals.
While the risk of getting a disease from a squirrel is low, it is still a possibility. You will want to go to the hospital and ensure a professional has a look at the injury. They will also make sure the wound doesn’t become infected and may offer you squirrel bite antibiotics.
If you don’t go to the hospital right away, you likely won’t realize you’re sick until the disease becomes serious. It is better to seek medical attention. However, if you choose not to, be sure to keep an eye on your health as the wound heals. Always keep it covered with a bandage and keep it disinfected.
Are Squirrel Bites Dangerous?
Squirrel bites are not dangerous most of the time. They can carry diseases and parasites, although the odds of transferring them to you are very low. Squirrels can carry typhus and roundworm, but they are not likely to transfer them to humans.
Most of the danger comes from a potential infection. Squirrels have bacteria in their mouth that can easily cause infections in your wound, which is why you need to clean the area immediately with soap and water.
Can Squirrel Bites Cause Rabies?
According to the Humane Society of America, rodents and rabbits are not likely to get rabies and are not known to cause it in humans. So, if a squirrel bites you, you should not get rabies. It is worth talking with your doctor if you have concerns.
Do You Need Rabies Shot After Squirrel Bite?
The CDC says that you seldom need the rabies shot after a bite from a rodent. That includes squirrels, among many other small animals. Rodents are usually not infected with this disease and are unable to transfer it to people.
Do Squirrels Carry Diseases?
Squirrels can carry several diseases, although most of them don’t travel through bites:
- Salmonella: The salmonella bacteria live in their feces.
- Leptospirosis: You may experience symptoms if an open injury comes into contact with your urine. You will need antibiotic treatment.
- Lyme Disease: Squirrels can carry ticks, which can cause this illness.
- Tularemia: If you have to move a dead squirrel, you can get this disease. You will need antibiotic treatment.
What Diseases Can Squirrels Transmit to Humans?
In addition to salmonella, leptospirosis, Lyme disease, and tularemia, squirrels can carry ticks, fleas, and other parasites which may transmit to humans. You should not be at risk as long as you don’t touch them and clean your hands often.
While squirrels can transmit diseases to people, the odds of you becoming infected are very low. If you are experiencing a fever, rash, inflammation, or severe headache after a squirrel bite, make sure to see your doctor.
What to Do if You Get Scratched by a Squirrel?
If you get scratched by a squirrel, always clean an animal scratch with warm soap and water. If it’s bleeding, make sure to apply pressure to the wound. Dry off your skin, then use a clean bandage.
Squirrel scratches are rarely serious, as they have tiny claws. As long as you clean it to prevent infection, you will be fine.
List of Sources
Guide To Post-Exposure Rabies Prophylaxis. (2016). New Jersey Department of Health.
Domestic Animals. (2017). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heidel, J. (2009). Local squirrel had bacterial disease that can infect people. Oregon State University.
Understanding rabies. The Humane Society of the United States.
Grenrock, S. (2018). Why should you love squirrels? Here are six reasons. University of Florida.
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