Do Chipmunks Carry Diseases? [Detailed Answer] – UPDATED 2021
These small, furry mammals with beady eyes belong to the rodent family. Cousin of both mice, and squirrel, chipmunks can carry diseases directly or indirectly.
Critters like rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks can cause damage not just to your yard by eating all the vegetables but also affect your health.
Do Chipmunks Carry Diseases?
These rodents can carry diseases that could be transmitted through eaten vegetables, urination, and defecation of rodents in the yard. The parasites housed on their bodies can jump to pets and humans and spread diseases.
So, does that mean that you should avoid contact with chipmunks? Yes, you should. However, as an animal lover, if you wish to play with a chipmunk once in a while, it’s alright. Just make sure you watch your hands thoroughly after the contact.
Here’s everything you need to know about chipmunks and the diseases they carry.
Diseases Carried By Chipmunks
There are various diseases carried by chipmunks. These may be spread directly or indirectly. Usually, the ticks and fleas stuck to the rodent’s fur are responsible for spreading diseases. Following are some major diseases spread by Chipmunks.
Rabies is one of the most frightening diseases caused by animals with no known cure. Fortunately, chipmunks rarely have rabies. However, it is important to take precautions even if rabid Chipmunks are rare. We suggest you avoid chipmunks with foam around their mouths and noses.
Rodents like chipmunks and mice are often infected by lice and ticks. These can infest human hair and spread diseases. Lyme disease, for instance, is a disease spread by ticks.
While chipmunks are not directly responsible for spreading the disease, the tick in their hair certainly is.
You may have heard of the Great Plague that spread across Europe in the 15th Century. If you do, then let us tell you that rodents have been the ones to blame. The rodent family can easily spread the epidemic.
In fact, the plague has not been eradicated yet. Various mammals carrying the disease are still alive. According to the California Department of Public Health, around five plague-ridden chipmunks were found around Lake Tahoe. This verifies that the disease is very much alive.
Therefore, we should continue to take precautions. This does not mean that you shouldn’t step out of the four walls. You should simply make sure you take necessary precautions.
For instance, try to avoid contact with dead or injured rodents. It’s good that you are taking the initiative to save the life of a voiceless creature. But, do not do it at the risk of our own life. Instead, notify your local animal control service as soon as possible.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the urine of the infected creatures. Infected animals may show no symptoms at all.
In humans, common symptoms include fever, headache, red eyes, chills, and muscle aches. Diarrhea, rashes, jaundice, and vomiting are some other symptoms of the disease.
Tularemia is a bacterial disease spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, by being bitten by an infected animal, or by handling a dead animal’s carcass.
You can prevent the disease by wearing gloves before handling an infected rodent and by using an insect repellent. Tularemia can be fatal. Fortunately, in most cases, it can be treated with antibiotics.
Critters are often the host of various parasites like roundworms. These parasites can easily be transmitted to your pets and even humans. A roundworm infection, for example, is a serious problem that may lead to organ failure in your dog.
Make sure you report to your pet’s vet if your pet kills a chipmunk. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly if you ever come in contact with a chipmunk.
Infection On Biting
A chipmunk bite is a rare phenomenon. However, the bite by a chipmunk is a serious situation. Infections include skin and tissue loss and even organ failure. Note symptoms like oozing, swelling, and fever, and immediately consult a doctor.
Preventing The Diseases
The age-old adage “Prevention is better than cure” fits the best here. We recommend preventing a rodent disease in the first place. Methods of preventing diseases caused by Chipmunks are-
You may use repellents to keep critters off your yard. The pungent smell of the repellent impacts the animal’s sense of smell. Further, the animal will feel a burning sensation on nibbling a plant sprayed with repellents.
Making changes to the yard
Sometimes, little things do the trick. You can make small changes to your yard, like fencing the gardens and keeping the grass low, to prevent pests. Try Planting Daffodils as the flower odor is offensive for the little nibblers.
Calling wildlife services
Despite these preventive measures, chipmunks can still find a way to get into your yard. In this case, we recommend handing over the task of pest removal to professional wildlife services. You can definitely trust the expert services of a wildlife control cell.
Other Preventative Measures
- Avoid camping near animal burrows
- Refrain from touching dead or injured rodents. Instead, call animal services.
- Do not feed rodents, squirrels, and chipmunks
- Keep your pets away from rodents. Train them not to approach or kill rodents. Prevent them from exploring their burrows.
- When involved in gardening, make sure you are fully clothed. This shall reduce exposure to fleas or rodents.
To answer your question briefly, Yes, chipmunks can carry diseases. Like its cousins from the rodent family, chipmunks are known to spread diseases like Lyme disease, Tularemia, Leptospirosis, Rabies, and Plague.
Therefore, it is best to avoid any contact with these little critters. Make sure you properly fence your gardens to debar them from entering and contaminating the garden vegetables. Eating contaminated food can expose you to many diseases.
Pets can also be exposed to chipmunks’ infection. Therefore, make sure you use insect repellents and appropriate fencing techniques to safeguard you and your family from diseases spread by chipmunks.
Note, though, that not all chipmunks carry disease. So there’s no need to be worried. Make sure you adopt appropriate preventive measures, like wearing gloves, before handling a chipmunk.