Skunks & Rabies
Highly susceptible to the rabies virus, skunks are primary carriers of the dreaded disease in many parts of the United States. Rabies is typically spread by the bite of an infected animal. Rabid skunks pose a particular threat to humans and other animals because skunk rabies can take weeks or even months to become apparent. In other words, even though a rabid skunk may not exhibit rabies symptoms initially, the infected animal can still transmit the viral disease to other animals it comes into contact with. Furthermore, rabies can be passed from mothers to their offspring, which puts skunks at risk of contracting the virus regardless of age.
Rabid Skunk Identification
During the latter stages of rabies, infected skunks tend to behave abnormally. Healthy skunks are typically docile and nocturnal, while rabid skunks often act aggressively and may be seen wandering around during the daytime. Other rabies symptoms include listlessness, muscle tremors or paralysis, and excess salivation. Skunks with rabies also frequently lose their fear of humans and may seem uncharacteristically approachable.
To minimize the risk of contracting rabies, skunks should be avoided, especially in cases when they behave abnormally. People who own dogs or cats should immunize their pets with the rabies vaccine. Pets should also be discouraged from interacting with skunks and other wild animals.