Are city squirrels a health problem?

My dad says they are mice with furry tails, and should be treated as such, I.e., trapped or baited. Most people don’t mind them. I don’t think city squirrels get rabid, by which I mean if they are, it’s mentioned in the news as always in the local forest areas.

I dunno. I guess if they were overrunning my house (I’ve had that problem with mice before) maybe I’d take action. But I’ve never seen them showing any interest in that.

What aspects of their behaviour or diseases they (might) carry would be a public health problem?

I’m kind of with your dad, at least to a point. Squirrels are rats with fluffy tails, but what harm is there in that? Is a rat intrinsically more of a health problem than a dog would be? At least a rat doesn’t lick his ass and your face sequentially. Rats and squirrels may both fleas which can be a problem, or they may have rabies, but I think in most cases the highest risk factor is if you allow them to walk across your food they may not have been especially careful about wiping their feet beforehand.

As long as they stay outside, they’re not anymore dangerous than any other vermin. If they get in your house, terminate with extreme prejudice.

They don’t usually come into the houses of humans. And they don’t attack people, as dogs might. But they can become quite audacious in the park, when people feed them.

Squirrels have been known to be a vector for some diseases*, which then spread to dogs when they find a dead squirrel in the park, and then could spread from the dog to its’ human owners at home. But this seems to occur only rarely.

Others have argued that squirrels interrupt the vector, in that the disease-carrying parasites find it easier to bite a squirrel rather than a human, thus reducing the number of humans infected.

*primarily Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, recently.

And Black Plague, too. :eek:

But yes, they are generally harmless.

And cute. Oh, those bushy tails and bristly whiskers!

Are squirrels in the attic as bad as rats in the attic?

(My grandfather had squirrels in his attic the last time we visited. You could hear them running around overhead. For whatever reason, we felt much better when we found out they were squirrels. We still told him that he should have them removed, though.)

Getting a bit senile, is he? :smiley:

My mother had a friend who had a just-about-finished renovation on an antebellum mansion. Squirrels chewed the wiring and the house caught on fire. They had to rebuild the top floor. I wouldn’t be complascent about having them in my attic. And when I moved into my 160-year old farmhouse I got rats int eh attic the first winter. I’ll put moths and spiders outside, but I put out cats, traps and poisons (not where the cats could get it) for those vermin.


Rodents including rats don’t get rabies in general. There is a huge qualification there for the nitpickers. They are physically capable of getting rabies but they are just don’t because whatever would give them rabies generally kills them and their lifestyle just isn’t good at all at picking it up. You just don’t see rodent transmission of rabies to humans.

Squirrels are dirty little rat bastards but rats are even more little dirty little rat bastards because they live in mass numbers in filthy places. That is much more hospitable to other types of diseases.

If the cats can get to the squirrels they can get to the poison. Squirrel eats poison, cats eats squirrel…

DrDeth - The cats didn’t do diddly for the rats. Neither did putting the airedale up there. So I removed all the animals and put down poison and traps. And the rats died, the pets didn’t.


More of them plaque-carrying squirrels.

“You’ve got an airedale in the attic” has been added to my reference list of insults.

My squirrels in the attic chewed out the phone lines. Because the original lines were now hidden behind a newly installed firewall they had to be rerouted outside via pipes under the eaves, for a bundle of dough.

Rats carry Leptospirosis (amongst other things) which they spread via their urine contaminating ground and bodies of water .
Humans catch Lepto.
It is taken v.seriously by the industry and the British armed forces.

I have no cite but I was surprised to discover that Bubonic plague still affects people in the U.S. ,I know this used to spread by infected rat fleas in the Middle Ages but I dont know if this is the source today.
If starving I still wouldn’t eat rat but I would eat squirrel.