How can I tell if an animal has rabies?

American Red Cross
Animals with rabies may act strangely. For example, those that are usually active at night may be active in the daytime. A wild animal that usually tries to avoid people might not run from you. Rabid animals may drool, appear to be partially paralyzed, or act aggressively or strangely quiet.

Rabid animals may act violent, sick, or simply odd. A warning sign could be a wild animal that doesn't fear people or a nocturnal animal, such as a bat or raccoon, that appears in the daytime.

However, an infected animal may be contagious for days before it shows any signs of rabies. If you have been bitten by an animal, seek medical advice immediately.

Continue Learning about Rabies



Rabies is a disease caused by a virus that can affect the nervous system of any mammal, including humans. Rabies-infected animals typically spread the disease through their saliva. It can be transmitted to humans when they bite a ...

person, or when the saliva from a rabid animal comes in contact with a person's mouth, eyes, nose or a fresh wound. Signs of rabies in animals may include excessive saliva or sometimes foaming at the mouth, paralysis or behavioral changes in a pet (shyness when the pet used to be friendly). Rabies is nearly always fatal unless treated. If you suspect you’ve been exposed to rabies, get immediate medical treatment. Post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) shots can kill the virus if given before symptoms start -- which may be anywhere from 10 days to over a year after the virus enters your body.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.