What is the risk of rabies from squirrels, mice, rats, and other rodents?

Small rodents (such as squirrels, rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and chipmunks) and lagomorphs (such as rabbits and hares) are almost never found to be infected with rabies and have not been known to cause rabies among humans in the United States. Bites by these animals are usually not considered a risk of rabies unless the animal was sick or behaving in any unusual manner and rabies is widespread in your area.

However, from 1985 through 1994, woodchucks accounted for 86% of the 368 cases of rabies among rodents reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Woodchucks or groundhogs (Marmota monax) are the only rodents that may be frequently submitted to state health department because of a suspicion of rabies. In all cases involving rodents, the state or local health department should be consulted before a decision is made to initiate post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

For more information about rabies in rodents and lagomorphs, see: Childs, J. E., Colby, L., Krebs, J. W., Strine, T., Feller, M., Noah, D., Drenzek, C., Smith, J. S., and Rupprecht, C. E. (1997). Surveillance and spatiotemporal associations of rabies in rodents and lagomorphs in the United States, 1985-1994. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 33(1), 20-27.

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1. What animals get rabies?
2. How can I find out what animals have rabies in my area?
3. What is the risk of rabies from squirrels, mice, rats, and other rodents?