Can Rabbits Carry Rabies?

Categorized as Bunny Facts

Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Rei Garnet

Rabies has been reported in domestic animals such as rabbits, but has not been known to transmit rabies to humans.

Rabbits were also used in laboratories as test subjects in the creation of the first rabies vaccine by Louis Pasteur in the 1880s.

Rabbits are highly susceptible to the rabies virus.

Typically, rabies in rabbits has an incubation period of 2-3 weeks and will die within 3-4 days after showing initial symptoms.

The initial symptoms of rabies in rabbits are fever, restlessness, anorexia, weight loss, loud teeth grinding, paralysis, head tremors, and poor coordination.

Now that I’ve given you the gist of the article, read on as I explain in more detail why rabbits can carry rabies:

Can rabbits get rabies?

While rabbits have not been known to transmit rabies to humans, they can in fact carry the virus because they are warm-blooded mammals.

In order for a rabbit to get the rabies virus, an animal already infected by the virus would need to bite or scratch the rabbit.

Louis Pasteur actually used rabbits in the creation of the first rabies vaccine in the 1880s because rabbits are highly susceptible to the rabies virus.

Typically, rabbits that have rabies show the following symptoms:

  • Head tremors
  • Poor coordination of hind limbs
  • Restlessness
  • Anorexia
  • Loud teeth grinding
  • Head tremors
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Ascending paralysis

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider rabbits to be low-risk for contracting rabies compared to other animals such as raccoons, skunks, cats, dogs, and ferrets.

Rabbits that contracted the rabies virus would usually die 3–4 days after the incubation period of 2-3 weeks.

How can rabbits get rabies?

Rabbits can usually get rabies after being in contact with animals that carry the rabies virus.

A scratch or bite mark would indicate that your rabbit is at high risk of being infected with rabies.

These are the most common animals that carry the rabies virus:

  • Racoons
  • Skunks
  • Bats
  • Fox

If your rabbit has been bitten by any of the animals mentioned above, bring your rabbit to a veterinarian immediately.

Be careful while transporting your rabbit. Make sure that you do not get bitten or scratched.

How can you protect rabbits from rabies?

There is currently no available rabies vaccine for rabbits.

The best way to protect your rabbit from rabies is to keep them indoors and don’t let them near animals that are known to carry rabies, such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes.

If your rabbit’s hutch is outdoors, make sure that they are protected enough from animal bites.

Make sure that their hutch doesn’t have holes that would allow other animals to enter it or bite them.

When letting your rabbits exercise outside, make sure to supervise them at all times.

Cite this article:

Bunny Horde (July 2, 2022) Can Rabbits Carry Rabies?. Retrieved from https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-carry-rabies/.
"Can Rabbits Carry Rabies?." Bunny Horde - July 2, 2022, https://bunnyhorde.com/can-rabbits-carry-rabies/

Welcome to Bunnyhorde
Welcome to Bunnyhorde

By Rei Garnet

I’ve loved and cared for rabbits since I was 9 years old, and I’m here to share my passion for rabbits. My objective is to help rabbit owners give their rabbits the best life possible.