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Are Rabbits Harmful To Humans? 11 Potential Risks (2022)

Are Rabbits Harmful To Humans

Oh, those cute and fluffy bunnies.

They look like the perfect cuddle buddies.

But is it really okay to have them as pets?

Or can these seemingly harmless rabbits actually be dangerous?

Continue reading to find out:

  • What you should do when a rabbit bites you.
  • 11 possible dangers that can be caused by rabbits.
  • The 7 harmful diseases transmitted from bunnies to humans.
  • And much, much more…

Are rabbits harmful to humans?

Rabbits are rarely harmful to humans. That said, most domestic bunnies are safe to have as pets, provided they’re healthy and treated well. However, some rabbits can even transmit diseases. Plus, they can be destructive to your home.


Keeping rabbits as pets: 11 potential risks


#1: Rabbit bites and scratches

It’s natural for bunnies to nibble or claw…

That’s because it’s their way of maintaining their teeth and trimming their nails.

Also, they may even nip at you playfully to show affection.

But sometimes, rabbits can bite or scratch you with the intention to hurt. And this behavior is particular for aggressive or stressed bunnies.

Now, whether your wound is deep or it’s just a shallow scrape…

Health professionals advise that you:

  1. Wash it immediately with soap and running water.
  2. Scrub the wound for at least 15 minutes if it’s bleeding.
  3. Dry it carefully and apply topical disinfectant after cleansing.
  4. Cover the wound with an adhesive bandage to protect it from dirt.

Follow the steps mentioned above to avoid wound infection.

Moreover, if you don’t want your bunny to bite or scratch you again…

You can try to understand why your rabbit bites and what you can do to stop them.

#2: Allergies

Allergies

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t get allergies from your bunny’s hair.

Because the allergen is actually what the hair carries.

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) explains that:

Furry animals gather dead skin cells. And it’s called dander.

Fur also collects dust, mites, and pollen. And these are what trigger the allergy.

Additionally, another allergen is animal protein. And it’s found in the rabbit’s saliva and urine.

Now the question is…

How can you know if you’re allergic to your rabbit?

WebMD listed down several symptoms:

  • Hives.
  • Eczema.
  • Skin rash.
  • Sneezing.
  • Coughing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Itchy or watery eyes.
  • Facial pain or swelling.

Note: Some of these are also signs of a common cold. So you must observe if the symptoms will last for 2 or more weeks. If they do, you should see a doctor as you may have an allergy.

And if you’re allergic to your rabbit…

Watch this video to see how you can deal with it.

#3: Unpleasant smell from ammonia

Rabbits don’t stink. In fact, they’re very clean animals.

But they do produce something really smelly…

And that’s their pee.

You see, tests show that the rabbit’s urine has high ammonia content. That’s why it has a strong odor.

Now, this unpleasant smell won’t only make your house stink…

It can also cause respiratory problems in both rabbits and humans.

How?

Well, ammonia is an air pollutant that can irritate the respiratory tract. 

Researchers observed that exposure to this gas could result in the following conditions:

In humansIn rabbits
RhinitisFever
HeadacheSneezing
PneumoniaPneumonia
Loss of appetiteNasal discharge

So if you don’t want to inhale high amounts of gaseous ammonia…

Make sure to always clean your rabbit’s litter. 

Pro tip: Vinegar or baking soda are great natural cleaning agents. That’s because they get rid of unwanted odor. Let the vinegar or baking soda sit on the stain for about an hour. Then, scrub it out and rinse.

#4: Tetanus

It’s common knowledge that a wound from something rusty causes tetanus infection.

But did you know that you can also get it from your rabbit’s scratch?

Let me explain how:

Professionals say that tetanus comes from bacteria found in soil and animal waste. And it enters the body through cuts or punctured wounds.

Then, it’ll produce a toxin that causes painful muscle contractions.

Now, when you have a rabbit bite or even just a scratch…

You can be exposed to tetanus. Especially if you didn’t wash your wound.

Here are cases where you’ll need to seek medical care:

  • Your wound is bleeding.
  • It was contaminated with dirt, rust, or saliva.
  • You haven’t had a tetanus shot within 10 years.

#5: Pasteurellosis

Snuffles is common in rabbits. Its symptoms are:

  • Sneezing.
  • Teary eyes.
  • Runny nose.

And 1 of the reasons for snuffles is the bacteria called Pasteurella.

Now, if your bunny becomes ill and has snuffles…

The bacteria will live in their mouth and nasal passages.

Then your bunny can transmit that to humans. And studies show that such is possible through biting, scratching, or even licking.

When you get infected, this can result in:

  • Meningitis.
  • Osteomyelitis.
  • Soft tissue infection.
  • Respiratory infections.

That’s why when an infected rabbit injures you…

You have to wash the wound thoroughly.

#6: Salmonellosis

Rabbits can carry a bacteria called salmonella in their intestines.

When they do, their stool will contain that bacteria as well. And that could end up in water and food contamination…

Which can then cause diarrhea in people.

To prevent this, always wash your hands after cleaning your rabbit’s home…

And do so as well before eating or drinking.

#7: Tularemia

This rare infectious disease is also called rabbit fever. It’s caused by a bacterium called Francisella tularensis.

This disease can attack a person’s:

  • Skin.
  • Eyes.
  • Lungs.
  • Lymph nodes.

And people can get this when they have skin contact with infected rabbits and other animals.

Moreover, insect bite transmission is another possible way to get it.

So, if you don’t want to get this disease…

Protect yourself from ticks and mosquitos.

And, if you’re working with plenty of rabbits, handle them carefully.

#8: External parasites

Rabbit’s fur makes them prone to parasites like:

  • Ticks.
  • Mites.
  • Fleas.

Some don’t burrow on your bunny’s fur, while others do. And they even lay eggs.

What’s more, they’ll also bite humans. And if they do, that’ll result in skin irritation.

Now, if you want to get rid of these parasites…

It’s best to ask your veterinarian for a treatment recommendation. 

Warning: Some anti-flea products used for dogs contain fipronil. These should never be used in rabbits.

#9: E. Cuniculi

Encephalitozoon Cuniculi is an internal parasite that affects rabbits.

However, researchers reported that this parasite could be transmitted to humans, too.

And young children, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are most at risk.

That said, transmission is possible because of the spores of this parasite. Which are found in the rabbit’s urine.

And that’s why it’s important to always wash your hands after handling your rabbit.

#10: Ringworm

Don’t let the name fool you…

A ringworm isn’t really a worm or parasite. It’s a fungal infection.

Like humans, rabbits can have this condition. And they may have red, ring-type lesions and scaly patches.

Now, this is highly infectious and can affect you through direct contact.

So if you suspect your bunny’s infected…

You can isolate them and treat them with antifungal cream.

#11: Messy home and garden

Aside from risks to your physical health…

Rabbits can also cause harm to your home.

And let me elaborate how exactly:

Outdoor bunnies

Some people let their fluffy buddies play outside.

While others live in a place where wild rabbits roam around.

Normally, they’re the ones who have a hard time keeping their gardens tidy…

That’s because the bunnies poop a lot, and they scatter these everywhere.

What’s more, they chew on leaves and branches. And as a result, they cause damage to trees and shrubs.

Indoor bunnies

According to PetMD, rabbits have a natural destructive behavior.

That’s about how they often chew inappropriate objects. Plus, rabbits urinate in unwanted places.

And if you let your rabbit go around your home unsupervised, they can:

  • Scratch on walls.
  • Chew the electrical wires.
  • Dig on carpets, couches, or beds.

These actions may result in a messy house.

You may also want to read: How to stop a rabbit from chewing everything


People also ask:


Can humans get sick from rabbits?

Humans can get sick from rabbits. Your furry friends can have certain infections. The diseases are mostly transmitted through bites, skin contact, and rabbit waste.

Is rabbit poop toxic to humans?

Rabbit poop isn’t toxic to humans. However, it can be a parasite or bacteria carrier. And when the stool contaminates water or food, it can harm people.

Is rabbit pee harmful to humans?

Rabbit pee can be harmful to humans. In a neglected rabbit environment, there’s too much urine. And it might not have been cleaned for a long time. When this happens, gaseous ammonia can pollute the air. This results in respiratory problems.