1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Aggressive Groundhog--Might Have Rabies

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by puffypoo22, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    309
    62
    106
    Oct 3, 2015
    Massachussetts
    This morning we saw a groundhog out by the chicken coop, he was trying to get in, and also appeared to be trying to open the feed lid, which is pretty hard to do. He was giving our chickens a hard time, they were making a racket. My mom and sisters went outside to try and scare him away…They did not get very close to him but he charged at them, they went screaming for the house. My dad who was outside on a business call and he started laughing. It was REALLY funny, but the groundhog chased them all the way to our front door. I wouldn't, however, call it an attack, but I am really concerned now. Did he have rabies? And now it has been reported that the groundhog is harassing the chickens again. Now my dad is battling it.
    So a few questions:

    1. Why was the groundhog trying to break into the chicken coop?

    2. Did he have rabies or was he just naturally aggressive/persistent?

    3. What should we do about this groundhog?


    thank you!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  2. Millworker26

    Millworker26 Out Of The Brooder

    87
    3
    21
    Jun 25, 2016
    SE PA
    Rabies in groundhogs does account for a high percentage of the confirmed rabies cases. Trap it with a live trap. Don't get bit. Don't get exposed to saliva. Call Game Commission to have them collect it and test for rabies.

    Or do nothing and wait for it to die from the virus.
     
  3. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    309
    62
    106
    Oct 3, 2015
    Massachussetts
    would my chickens catch rabies? Why was he trying to get in?
     
  4. cupofJoelene

    cupofJoelene Chillin' With My Peeps

    216
    52
    91
    Jul 8, 2015
    Chickens cannot get rabies. Rabies can only be spread through mammals, not avian species.
     
  5. puffypoo22

    puffypoo22 Chillin' With My Peeps

    309
    62
    106
    Oct 3, 2015
    Massachussetts
    whew, thats good...
     
  6. Millworker26

    Millworker26 Out Of The Brooder

    87
    3
    21
    Jun 25, 2016
    SE PA
    Nope, only mammals get rabies, not birds.

    I don't know why it was trying to get in. Rabid animals exhibit all sorts of strange behavior. Why did Cujo keep that woman and her son trapped in their car for 2 hours? I'm not sure that scientists truly understand why behaviour changes, other than the fact that the virus infects the nervous system.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,174
    2,137
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Or, the groundhog was trying to get into the coop for an easy meal of chicken feed, it felt cornered by your mom and sisters and reacted. Even the most timid of wild animals will become aggressive when cornered. I would be more concerned about rabies if the mom and sisters were outside minding their own business and a groundhog (or other wild animal) came out of the blue and chased or attacked them. That type of aggression is more consistent with rabies.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2016
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,940
    3,097
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    That was interesting. I though t I’d look up some actual information.

    In 2015, a total of 142 animals tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts. 3 of these were woodchucks (also called groundhogs).
    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/rabies/quarterly-report-2015.pdf

    In 2014, a total of 148 animals tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts. 5 of these were woodchucks (also called groundhogs).
    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/rabies/quarterly-report-2014.pdf

    In 2013, a total of 97 animals tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts. 3 of these were woodchucks (also called groundhogs).
    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/rabies/quarterly-report.pdf

    In Massachusetts it seems raccoons are the animals with the most confirmed cases. Here in Arkansas its skunks by a huge margin. Funny how it varies like that.

    These statistics show it is certainly possible that groundhog had rabies. I doubt it but it is certainly possible. I think a more logical explanation for its behavior was that it was trying to get into the chicken feed and it had babies nearby it was trying to protect. But aggressive behavior toward people in groundhogs is unusual. Here they run away when they see me, usually long before I can get to a gun. Something just doesn’t sound right, it’s a good idea to give that groundhog a wide berth. If it is sticking around, it needs to die and be tested.
     
  9. Millworker26

    Millworker26 Out Of The Brooder

    87
    3
    21
    Jun 25, 2016
    SE PA
    In the period between 1990 - 1996 groundhogs accounted for 93% of the 371 rodent rabies cases reported to CDC in areas where raccoon rabies was high. In other words, if your area has rabid raccoons then you likely also have rabid whistlepigs.

    www.cdc.gov/rabies/exposure/animals/other.html
     
  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    19,940
    3,097
    476
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You can do funny things with statistics. I’m talking about all animals, you are talking about rodents only. There is a difference. I’ll stick with Massachusetts since that is where the original poster is located.

    In Massachusetts in the years 1992-2002 there were a total of 3893 cases of rabies. This includes all animals, not just rodents. A few selected animals and the number of positive rabies tests, not all of them are rodents. For those that might be confused, bats and rabbits are not classified as rodents.

    Raccoons – 2136
    Skunks – 1195
    Bat – 253
    Cat - 106
    Woodchuck (Groundhog) – 76
    Cow – 13
    Dog – 4
    Goat – 1
    Rabbit – 1
    Bird – 0
    Chicken – 0
    Chipmunk – 0
    Gerbil – 0
    Guinea Pig – 0
    Hamster – 0
    Mouse – 0
    Muskrat – 0
    Opossum – 0
    Porcupine – 0
    Primate – 0
    Rat – 0
    Squirrel – 0

    http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/cdc/rabies/1992-2002rabies-summary.pdf

    So you are exactly right. If you restrict your look to rodents the vast majority or rodent rabies are in groundhogs, at least in Massachusetts. 76 is a significant number.
     
    1 person likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by