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Can rabbits carry rabies?

Species: Other
Breed: cat
Age: Less than 3 mon
I am wondering what the chances of a baby wild rabbit having rabies is. The baby is normal acting, though rather tame. My cat tried to pick her up and the rabbit scratched him on the nose. The scratch is light and hardly bled.

The cat is just a kitten so hasn't yet been vaccinated but has a appointment to do so.

I know they're mammals so they can technically have rabies, but I am wondering if it's likely in a baby or if rabbits are even able to transmit it. Like I said, the bunny was acting normal. It was tame enough that I could catch it and release it outside, but wasn't paralyzed or anything. We live in Colorado, and rabies is fairly prevalent in skunks and bats, but not rodents. Thanks.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Sorry to hear that your cat got scratched by a rabbit. While rabbits can carry rabies, the chances that this little rabbit had rabies and transmitted rabies to your cat are really small.

We rarely see bunnies with rabies and that is because in order for them to get rabies they would have had to have been bitten by a rabid animal. If this happened, then the bunny likely would have died and would not still be running around. Next, in order to transmit rabies, saliva has to be injected into the animal. In other words, a scratch would not transmit rabies, but a bite possibly could.

So, if your cat was scratched by a bunny I would not be worried much about the possibility of him contracting rabies.

The biggest concern I would have would be for infection. I wouldn't do anything for the small scratch at this point, but if you notice it getting red and sore or if your cat is lethargic and doesn't want to eat then you'll need to see the vet for some antibiotics. Most likely everything will be fine though!

Dr. Marie


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.