Last Updated : May 3, 2022

Can guinea pigs get rabies [And How To Help!]

Do you know can guinea pigs get rabies? Great! I am here after detailed research to discuss them. So let’s start.

Rabies is an untreatable virus that attacks the brain and central nervous system. It can catch all mammals, including rabbits, dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and humans as well.  Although it is preventative and therapeutic, even if caught early, once the symptoms of rabies appear, the virus is fatal.

Can guinea pigs get rabies

Do guinea pigs have rabies

Yes, guinea pigs also have rabies. Although these rodents are not at higher risk of suffering from this disease, they are likely to have it.

Rabies virus is spread in guinea pigs through direct contact (such as via damaged skin or mucous layer in the mouth, nose, or eyes) with saliva or central nervous system tissue from a rabid animal.

As guinea pigs are herbivores, so it has been recorded that the rabies virus can also transmit them via solid organ plants and corneal, but these are rare. There have been just two famous substantial organ donors with rabies in the US since 2008. Many organ purchasing organizations have included a selection query about rabies contact in their procedures to assess the suitability of each donor.

However, some people leave their guinea pigs outside, although it is perilous for them to stay outdoor. A lot of predators like to feed small rodents, so leaving a guinea pig outside will end its life. Due to infectious diseases, it is also safer for a pet owner to keep his pet guinea pig away from wild animals.

What is rabies disease in guinea pigs

What is rabies disease in guinea pigs

A Guinea pig can be affected by rabies infection, which is caused by the rabies virus. This disease is spread via the saliva of rabid animals. And when an infected animal bit another person or animal, the virus can pass on the victim.

In some cases, rabies can transform when an infected animal licks an open cut on your pet’s skin. So rabies is one of those diseases from which your pet guinea pig can suffer.

During the last stages of the disease, rabies travels from the central nervous system to the salivary glands. This is the point where the animal can transmit the disease, usually through bites.

Guinea pig rabies symptoms

Symptoms of rabies are almost common in all rodents, such as they may look like drunk or excessive rotation, dizziness, partial paralysis, temporary functioning, or self-mutilation. However, most of these symptoms can also be signs of other diseases such as lead poisoning or distemper.  But there are some traces of such behavior that are the only news of rabies.

In guinea pigs, symptoms usually show within 1 to 3 months, even though they may appear a few days after exposure to the virus. The disease is characterized by pain and fever or a feeling of pain in the wound area. As a result of the tenderness of the brain and central nervous system, guinea pigs experience dizziness and convulsions. While in other guinea pigs, their muscles become paralyzed, followed by unconsciousness. In this situation, generally, rodents die within 1 or 2 weeks.

Early symptoms of rabies in guinea pigs may include lack of coordination, agitation, aggression, walking backward, excessive salivation, ghost chewing, and lethargy. While at the last stages of the illness include convulsions, depression, and lying down.

Will rabies kill guinea pigs

Although the rabies virus infects guinea pigs, it may also result in death at the final stages. As I talked about earlier, the rabies virus moves along the nerves to the central nervous system or spinal cord and then to the brain, divided into multiple copies. Thereby, it moves into both salivary glands and saliva beside other nerves.

So when a virus spreads in the whole body of an animal, that is their last stage. After that, death may occur.  But if you give proper treatment to your pet guinea pig at the start of the disease, they may recover within few days.

Does hand soap kill rabies in guinea pigs

Yes, the rabies virus can easily be killed by hand soap, bleach, detergent, alcohol, and ultra-violet light as well. This virus is incredibly fragile. As the saliva dries, the virus is no longer contagious.

So clean their skin immediately and wash with water for more than five minutes, even if there are no apparent scratches or cuts. Cleaning will help eliminate the virus. It’s better to use soap or detergent to help kill. Washing the area or wound is probably the most effective way to prevent rabies.

Will I get rabies from a guinea pig bite

In other animals such as dogs, cats, squirrels, rabies transfers via direct contact such as saliva or central nervous tissues and getting a bite from an animal’s having rabies, but what if we talk about humans? Can rabies transfers from an infected animal to humans? Yes, it is.

And when it comes to guinea pigs, rabies is not usually transferred by getting a bite from your pet guinea pig. They are spread through the saliva present in their nose, mouth, or eyes.

Small pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, and many others do not transmit rabies to their owner through biting because their small teeth can’t break their skin, like larger pets (dogs or cats) biting deeper. These bites increase the chance of infection.

But in case your guinea pig bites you in exposure to a threat, wash the wound area with hand soap or any detergent as soon as possible. It will be helpful to prevent the transmission of any germs or viruses into your skin.

What should I do if I get rabies from guinea pigs

Since rabies infection remains a primary concern, with more than 59,000 deaths each year. Nearly all of these deaths are due to the rabies virus transmitted by pets such as guinea pigs and many others. So if you get rabies from your pet guinea pigs, don’t ignore it. Follow the following steps to treat the infection.

  1. Immediately wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and disinfect with alcohol or iodine. Then call your doctor right away.
  2. Before getting the treatment, discuss with the doctor how rabies is transferred. Either the animal bites you or direct contact.
  3. Get the rabies shot (a series of 5 injections) for four weeks (one month), usually in the arm or thighs.
  4. You can also receive a shot of the rabies immune globulin that will give you instant antibodies to fight the disease because once the rabies virus goes into the nerves and travels to the brain, the immune system is can’ fight it.

Guinea pig rabies FAQs

Do guinea pigs need rabies shots?

Vaccines are imperative because it allows your pet guinea pig to build their immunity and keep away from the diseases they may be suffering from. Vaccination starts to work when you, as an owner, first bring your pet and give them a shot, so if your pet guinea pigs are born early, it’s better to wait until they reach the age of 6 months.

But when it comes to rabies shots, they don’t need vaccination when infected from rabies disease. Many owners believe that piglets don’t need to be vaccinated against rabies infection. And doctors are unlikely to vaccinate guinea pigs with surgery, because they thing these pets don’t need to be protected against such diseases.

Instead of vaccinating your pets, get them checked by a veterinarian and make sure they have plenty of vitamin C in their diet. Vaccination is not the only way to keep your guinea pig healthy and fit.

Are guinea pig’s rabies shots expensive?

As I discussed earlier, piglets don’t need vaccination. But If we talk about rabies shots, they are offered free of cost at the government facilities. While in private clinics, the cost range from $5 to $7 for a single dose, and five doses, it’s $22 to $24.

What are the side effects of rabies vaccine in the guinea pig

Research on rabies vaccine’s side effects has shown some rare infections in guinea pigs after vaccinated. Side effects include vomiting, hypersensitivity, disturb stomach, swelling at the injected area, dizziness, and the list goes on.

As you know, guinea pigs have a gentle digestive system, so a rabies vaccine disturbs their stomach, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. So it’s is recommended to take care of your pig, feed them a proper diet with lots of vitamin C, and get vaccinated in severe conditions.


Hence, this was a detailed discussion about the rabies virus and guinea pigs. Guinea pigs are at lower risk of getting an infection from this virus, but it’s a must to treat as soon as possible if they have. Moreover, care is better than cure. So take care of your pet guinea pig, don’t let them go outside because any rabid animal such as a dog can attack them and transfer the virus.

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