Can chickens get diseases from rodents or other mammals?


In the Brooder
12 Years
May 11, 2007
In my suburban backyard, we have many squirrels, 45 varieties of wild birds, and the occasional opossum and raccoon. My chickens (3 ladies) have the run of the yard, and are cooped at night. I just noticed a squirrel that appears to have distemper or something like that. It weaves from side to side, acts drunk, tail droops, etc. It is very hungry, and was eating from one of the chicken's feeders and drinking from a waterer. Can it pass a disease to the hens by sharing/contaminating their food and water supplies?


In the Brooder
12 Years
Sep 24, 2007
North Freedom Wisconsin

This picture was part of a PDF I found online. Hope it helps.

This doesn't mean that the squirrel will pass a disease, but they are able to.


13 Years
Jan 17, 2007
New Jersey
Not sure what's wrong with the poor squirrel or whether or not he has a problem that could affect your chickens. Usually wildlife and chickens coexist with few problems (minus the predator thing of course!). I have a wildlife rehab center near me and I've caught ill squirrels in hav-a-hart traps and brought them there. It's tricky because catching them is trial and error - often you catch somebody you didn't mean to and then you let them go and start over. Usually I would entice the intended squirrel with food for a few days, placing the food near the trap at times that he/she watches me do that. Eventually I placed the food just inside the trap but with the door wired open so it wouldn't shut on him. And then finally I would put the food well inside and set the trap. Critical to check it very frequently cause they'll freak out in the trap - so stressful. Anyway, if you had such a center and could get the squirrel there not only might they be able to help him but they may be able to tell you what's wrong with him. Sadly, one of the squirrels that went out of its way to come to me and let me catch him and bring him to the rehab center was not able to be saved - he had growths all over his body and was so terribly uncomfortable- it was very sad. No worry about rabies with squirrels so whatevers wrong with him it's almost certainly not that at least.

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