When you have had an encounter with rabies either through your dog or through another pet, you know how terrifying living close to such an animal can be. The virus is also associated with several myths that threaten owners of even the smallest scratch from a playful pet. With spring and winter approaching, are guinea pigs also susceptible to rabies?
Guinea pigs, like all animals, are at risk of contracting rabies; however, it is quite rare in them. Even so, the pet can contract the virus from encounters with raccoons or other wild guinea pigs. However, you can prevent the virus by controlling the pet from going outdoors without supervision.
The topics on rabies can seem so frightening; however, it is not necessary to be afraid of it unless you are sure your pet has the disease. Read on for more details on the symptoms, prevention, and treatment of the virus in your guinea pig pets.
Can Guinea Pigs Get Rabies?
Pet guinea pigs should be domesticated originally in a home environment to reduce their risk of contracting diseases such as rabies. The Guinea pig can cross paths with several wild animals that may transmit the virus if left on its own outside the house.
Like any other communicable disease, once it gains access into the pet’s body, it flows and attaches to the body nerves where it duplicates into huge quantities and is later transported through the central nervous system into the brain. In humans, once such cells get to the brain they cause an inflammation of the brain blocking important airways and can lead to death if not treated immediately.
Although guinea pigs may be susceptible to the virus, it is highly unlikely and it is quite rare among rodents. That should serve as a warning since the guinea pig with rabies would not receive treatment or vaccination immediately. Therefore, the best method of preventing rabies in guinea pigs is by providing them with a fenced-off enclosure big enough for their needs, and by giving them adequate housing.
How Do I Know If My Guinea Pig has Rabies?
The Rabies virus takes two different forms: the furious form, and the dumb form. In most cases, it is an extremely furious form of the virus that is passed from animal to animal, and which is characterized by abnormal behavior, including unusual constant squeaking in guinea pigs. Whenever you are near the animal trying to pet it, you will notice him being aggressive and he might bite you.
Guinea pigs rarely contract the virus, but if you are unsure about how your pet interacted with wild animals here are some of the symptoms you can look for:
- Lameness: – If a raccoon or another wild animal bites your guinea pig, you will notice lameness on the bitten leg about two to three days after the bite.
- Relatively thin body despite eating healthy food, however, this could also indicate constipation in the pet.
- Poor hair coat
- Weepy eyes resulting from the pain and uneasiness the animal is going through.
- The pet may also try to run away from you, but this time not in a playful mood.
The first step is to consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your guinea pig’s health, especially if you brought him in from the wild, or if he has been out and about alone recently, or if he is showing strange behaviors.
What Happens If You Get Bitten by a Guinea Pig?
The fact that you have a bite from your guinea pig is not a thing to worry about; unless the pet had any visible signs that you doubt to be of rabies or unless he was tested of the virus. Other than that, guinea pigs hardly bite, and if they do, it could be when communicating something and they never bite to scare you.
Guinea pigs can bite deep wounds if they are very frightened or angry. The best thing to do would be to wash the punctured wounds carefully with antibiotic ointment and seek medical attention immediately. In addition, since guinea pigs rarely bite such deep wounds, it would be good to seek veterinary attention as well for the pet.
Nevertheless, a medical recommendation states that when patting or playing with your pet, you should always check for bite wounds. It is in these places that a guinea pig cannot self-clean or bruise.
You should look for them at the top of the back, just before the shoulders. Whenever guinea pigs fight, these are the points where they bite each other. Hence, if your pet went on a walk without your supervision, you should also check for the same.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Bite?
As I stated earlier, a guinea pig bite, may not necessarily be rabies. The chances of your guinea pig infecting you with the virus are almost at zero out of ten. However, you should still maintain supervision and prevent the pet from going out.
So guinea pigs may bite humans for several reasons including:
- You may have mishandled them since they like care and gentle handling.
- They may bite to communicate they have had too long lap time.
- The bite may be a discomfort from sleep disruption in their hideout.
- It might be communication for more food or water.
- The guinea pig may be frightened, very angry, or having feelings of agitation. However, at times a bite may also signal a lack of sunlight.
- Guinea pigs enjoy company, so if you keep them, in a very quiet room, it might also be communication on how they feel about the environment.
However, you may also find the pets biting each other when:
- When each one of them needs their space, it happens in females while in males it’s to always show superiority.
- When the pet finds their mate has an incompatible personality or when they are angry about some unmet need.