Another reason not to keep squirrels as pets: A fun little brain infection called Bornavirus

Variegated Squirrel 3

Photo credit: budgora 

Watch out: This cute little guy, who’s native to Central America, could be harboring the deadly “variegated squirrel 1 bornavirus,” which appears to cause a slow, awful-sounding death from encephalitis, at least among three variegated squirrel breeders in Germany, reports Live Science and the European equivalent of the CDC:

“During the prodromal (symptomatic) phase, which lasted for two weeks or longer, the patients presented with fever and shivering, fatigue, weakness and walking difficulties. Due to increased confusion and psychomotor impairment they were admitted to neurology wards where they developed ocular paresis (<–weakness and paralysis in the eye muscles, causing things like crossed eyes and double vision). They rapidly deteriorated within a few days and died after some time in intensive care, despite mechanical ventilation.”

Ouch. We here at Squirrels, Squirrels, Squirrels want to remind readers that yes, while squirrels are abundantly charming and cute, they aren’t great pets for many reasons, including their rare-but-entirely-possible ability to transmit bornavirus to people.

Speak, rodent:

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