Can chickens catch rabies?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by chiknlady, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. chiknlady

    chiknlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2008
    SE PA
    Last night was gruesome around here--5 dead 2 wounded. At about 4 am I heard birds screaming so I grabbed a dog and went running. There was one of my bantam hens running and being attacked by a cat??? It was growling like a tom cat in a fight and it ran when the dog came out. I could not tell for sure but there are feral cats and I never heard a raccon screeching. Any way I am concerned about rabies because unlike other attacks, this time no one was eaten, they were just slaughtered. If the chickens that survived were bitten--could they have rabies? Do I need a shot because I handled the carcasses?
  2. d_cat88

    d_cat88 Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 13, 2009
    Amarillo, Texas
    Sorry about your chickens [​IMG] but you shouldn't have to worry about rabies unless you were bitten by the cat. Rabies is only carried by mammals, birds can't get it.
  3. chickensioux

    chickensioux Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2009
    Western North Carolina
    Any warm blooded animal can carry the rabies virus including fowl. Once the body dies the rabies virus dies too. Handling the bodies is safe if done properly. You shouldn't worry if you handled the bodies.
  4. Anny

    Anny Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2008
    Detroit Michigan
    Animals who are not mammals, such as birds, fish, turtles, and snakes, cannot carry rabies.

    As long as you and your dog where not bitten you are safe. None of the attacked chickens can catch it.

    I'm so very sorry for your loss.
  5. gypsy2621

    gypsy2621 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 29, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Quote:This is not 100% correct.
    when handling suspect animals either dead or alive one should take precautions against rabies.
    rubber gloves, hand washing, dog should be bathed.
    when the body dies rabies virus does not die, it can like dorment in the soil for a long time, as it can on fur, feathers etc.
  6. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

    Feb 11, 2008
    Waterloo, Nebraska
    Birds don't get rabies. The only problem might be if the bird has the attacker's saliva on it and you have an open wound when handling the bird. So, if you have any open sores on your hands, be careful until you get the birds cleaned up. Chickens do not carry rabies.
  7. ChooksChick

    ChooksChick BeakHouse's Mad Chicken Scientist

    Aug 17, 2008
    Larry, KS
    My Coop
    Birds can actually get rabies, as any warm-blooded animal can, however it has never been observed in the wild. I'm not sure how this bodes on chickens, who are not exactly wild. There's ample info here:

    "Rabies has been produced in birds experimentally, however, it has never been found in wild bird populations. "
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 6, 2009
  8. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Did you see the cat do the killing? It would be quite unusual for a cat to kill 5 chickens, although not impossible. Would a raccoon scream while it was busy killing?

    You can get very sick from handling dead or injured chickens, depending on what attacked them and what diseases they had. There are multiple posts on BYC about these dangers. Here is one example:

    I'm not saying a coon did it, of course. There are many possibilities if you did not witness the killing. Even if a cat did it, if the cat was rabid, and you got its saliva or blood on an open cut you had, this could be dangerous. I'm just saying these carcasses must be handled with protection and caution.
  9. chickensioux

    chickensioux Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2009
    Western North Carolina
    As stated before, you shouldn't worry about handling the bodies if done properly...meaning gloves, etc.
    Fowl can be suspected of carrying rabies if bitten by an infected animal. And any fowl suspected of exposure should be destroyed.
    The rabies virus survives by temperature and moisture and is transmitted by a bite or getting saliva or some other body fluid into an open wound, eye, etc.
    Any other type of transmission is extremely rare.
    One reason it has not been seen in small animals such as birds, fish, mice, etc. is that when attacked by a rabid animal, most of these smaller creatures don't survive the attack.
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2009
  10. chiknlady

    chiknlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2008
    SE PA
    Well I saw whatever it was chasing one of the survivors. It was in the early dawn shadows and "cat shaped" It was making a noise like a tomcat in a fight. The game warden thinks it may be a weasel...

    Since I don't even know what a weasel looks live other than on wikipedia--so I don't know what to do next--save hiring a trapper. I have fortified the coop doors and locks and have baited two traps with bird carcasses. We shall see what comes visiting--thank you for your advice and I might call my MD to see if she thinks I need a shot--I was also concerned about the saliva on the dead animals which is why I didn't process them.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by