So, I had this question. The answer was that we should kill a fox with rabies to help it.

Rabies has a phase called "furious phase". The infected animal has symptoms which can directly affect humans.

An infected dog may viciously attack any moving object, person, or animal; a caged rabid dog will chew the wire, break their teeth, and try to bite a hand moving in front of the cage. Rabid cats will attack suddenly, biting and scratching. Foxes will invade yards and attack dogs, cows, and porcupines.

However, you are only able to kill such an animal if you have a ranged tool to do so (bow, rifle etc.). So, how should an unarmed react if he encounters with a fox in the furious phase? How to avoid a charge and so on.

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    Be careful, foxes in this stage are fast and furious. Sometimes they can be too fast, too furious. Jan 8, 2016 at 12:16
  • The fox is insane. All its normal caution is gone. You may not be able to avoid an encounter. What should you do -- aside from calling 911 if you are in an area with telephone service? I hope someone gives a good answer to this!
    – ab2
    Jan 8, 2016 at 21:32

2 Answers 2


Because of the extremely high "Fear Factor" this subject engenders, I want to carefully examine the threat of contracting rabies from a different but still extremely vital angle: The engendered rabies threat from a fox bite is admittedly over-rated; as it now stands, it can be construed to be more of a "psychological," rather than "physical," danger.

I am approaching this in what is, I sincerely hope, a less inflammatory or sensationalist fashion--- more of a: "Yes, there is a definite risk. However, I have faced this risk, myself, and lived through it; not only once, but three times. So please do not allow your fear to control you."

By far, the most probable animal "carriers" of rabies (as seen from reports of suspicious bites, and animal cadavers which were lab-tested and later proven to have rabies) are small bats.

If you are attacked or bitten by ANY creature (even chipmunks have been found to have rabies) without any evident warning, PROMPTLY NOTIFY PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES! Do this A.S.A.P! You will have a few weeks' of "grace period;" BUT DO NOT WASTE TIME!

Don't be afraid of the "Pasteur Treatment" that will be used on you to prevent the disease. Many "horror stories" have been irresponsibly tossed around, dwelling on the injections supposedly having to be given in one's side, but during the THREE TIMES I had gone through these injections, they had been administered in my buttocks, or hips!

THREE TIMES? Yes! When younger, I had various jobs that required going "Out Past the Back of Beyond," in wild or "untamed" areas, for very long periods of time. It had been impossible to determine, after-the-fact, that an animal killed while "sampling my taste" had been rabies-infected, hostile, or just hungry.

To be fair, there had been a number of proven rabid-animal attacks in that particular area, prior to our having been sent in; so we knew the danger.

Because of the inherent risks I had always kept a medium- to large-caliber handgun close to hand; as well as a utility knife and a machete, as well. A jaguar had once tried to hitch a ride in my canoe, and was dissuaded only by vigorous applications of a Collins machete.

As I recall, looking back decades "after-the-fact," the number of injections, and their intervals, had been different, country-by-country and jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction; but IT HAD NOT BEEN EXTREMELY PAINFUL, NOR HAD THEY BEEN VERY DEBILITATING.

It had been painful on the day the shot was given, and my hip or "cheek" was sore for a few days. I remember feeling a general malaise; a feeling of "not being comfortable," but it had not been severe. I was still up to riding horses, Vespas, Jeeps and other vehicles; and while I was "off my feed" on the days of the shots, that didn't last. I was actually somewhat glad!

Don't permit the "boogie-man" of the (very far-fetched) risk of a rabid fox attack keep you from enjoying the out-of-doors!

You are FAR, FAR MORE LIKELY to be struck by lightning, step on a venomous snake, or be involved in a bush-plane crash. If you want to worry about an animal-threat, worry about a bear picking you for "not-fast-enough food!"

It is necessary to note I had shot other "possibly rabid" animals before they had the opportunity to get close enough to bite me. In all cases the creatures were behaving very suspiciously--- snapping their jaws at "nothing;" sitting statue-like while panting very hard and fast; growling or snarling "for no reason" and at irregular intervals; plus staring fixedly at people while constantly growling or snarling. All of them had also, I want to stress, looked very ill; they had dirty fur, streaks of fur stuck down by what were evident saliva-streaks, and the like.

As soon as the threat was evident, I had aimed very carefully, and shot the poor creatures in their heads. [And as is Native American custom, I always said a prayer for the soul of the animal.]


Fleas will start to leave the body ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. If a flea from a rabid animal bites you, in turn; you will get rabies as certainly as if the host-animal had bitten you!

  • few weeks' of "grace period;" It was my understanding that if you actually get infected with rabies from a bite, you have something in the order of 24-48 hours (!) to get the needed treatment, otherwise the sickness could prove fatal. Do you have sources for the claimed "few weeks"?? (My source was a tropical disease specialist at the local university hospital who counseled us for a trip to Peru.)
    – fgysin
    Jan 11, 2016 at 16:01
  • This was the data put forth by the military physician--I believe he alluded to his specialty as "tropical diseases," which had briefed me, back in the early 1970s. He had said that the Pasteur treatment could be started up to two weeks after the incident, although it was best to hurry. His timetable was supposedly based on then-existing problems extracting personnel from the bush. Now, of course, any of several sorts of helicopter could be used; or a "balloon-extractor" rig could snatch an op out of a modest clearing. PERSONALLY, I'D HAD TO DELAY 80+ HOURS, ON ONE BITE.
    – Fred Kerns
    Jan 12, 2016 at 6:57
  • This link en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milwaukee_protocol says that one patient got sick "Thirty-seven days after the bite". Your grace period is much longer than 48 hours, but don't wait one second. Get the rabies shot immediately, you don't die from getting a shot, you die from not getting one. Even with the Milwaukee protocol only very, very few survive when not getting a shot before the onset of symptoms and they still have brain injuries.
    – Bent
    Oct 13, 2016 at 19:22
  • This is added almost 3 years later but is important. See my comments in my original answer re time to react. You MAY indeed have many weeks BUT the more solid the would and the closer to your head (or maybe "core") the shorter time you have. The travel medicine expert who gave me my 2nd of four Rabies shots advised along these lines. Badly bitten around the face area and you almost certainly die and symptoms probably start almost immediately. Smaller wounds on limbs would usually give you much longer or much much longer. A small bat would on a hand or finger MAY give you 3+ years - ... Nov 7, 2018 at 10:14
  • ... which is why, as you say, you should ALWAYS assume that a wound from a potential carrier in a Rabies risk area must always be dealt with medically. | And/or - come to NZ - unlike almost everywhere else, we have no rabies infections (except the occasional incoming tourist). Our ONLY native mammal is a bat - which has never acquired the 'Rabies habit' - fortunately. Nov 7, 2018 at 10:16

I am not a Rabies expert - but I have very slightly more 1st hand experience than most people.
Some years ago I was bitten by a guard dog in China (we were playing).
My hosts were aghast, for reasons that made no sense to me. They took me to hospital. It was only when I saw the Rabies medication that I understood. The dog was never likely to have Rabies (and it didn't) but in China Rabies outbreaks are common enough to treat all unknown dogs with extra care. Several months and 4 injections in 3 countries later I was "Rabies immune"- maybe. So ...

The following is based on my reading then and since and my thoughts about how I would hope to act if ever placed in a situation where my "special experience" meant I may be safer than most people around me.

Avoid the animal if at all possible.

If it is an immediate danger to others who cannot avoid it you need to decide whether you are prepared to risk a nasty death on their behalf.
Deciding this either way in advance is a very good idea.
Dithering about whether to be a hero may lead instead to you being one more dead non-hero.

The best "protection" you can have if you feel you absolutely must deal with an infected animal, is a Rabies injection course in advance. These are not cheap and even having had one there are no guarantees that you would survive.

If bitten mildly in remote body areas Rabies travels through the lymphatic system and CAN take years to have an effect (and has killed years after a small wound in some cases.) Innoculation in the case of relatively minor wounds at limb extremeities can save lives, and has.
If bitten badly about eg face and head infection is nearly certain and death in days to maybe weeks is likely.

If you MUST risk being bitten then a bite at a limb end is better than a bite to head or body. Neither is a very attractive choice.

If you must confront such an animal then the Terry Roosevelt solution is liable to be best - that is "speak (or here, walk) softly and carry a big stick". Find something which has enough energy to physically stop the animal in its tracks immediately, and fast enough to allow use against a rapidly moving target. ie a heavy stick or pick handle etc. An axe is probably too heavy to move quickly enough. A light stick which may cause much pain but not cripple the creature will not work - deterrence does not work with an animal in this phase and is not worth trying.

Be prepared to act violently and viciously and without mercy. A Rabies infected animal will die in about 99.9999%+ cases. The death is an extremely unpleasant one and death by almost any other means is preferable. A brutal maximum effort attack that disable the animal instantly will hurt it little more than a response which allows it to bite you a few times before it is killed.

Lovely stuff :-(.
Best of all, perhaps. Move to New Zealand! (Look it up).
The only place in the world of significant size that is essentially Rabies free.

  • I thought there were other areas of significant size that are also rabies-free, like Great Britain, for example. Nov 30, 2017 at 12:53
  • @OlinLathrop Things may have improved. Add Japan at least apparently. Results vary significantly with source. Some say UK has bat Rabies only. Some say low risk. Some say no risk. On all maps I found (5 - 10 range?) at a quick search NZ and Japan were always shown Rabies free and others may be. Greenland is shown white (not on key). I think you usually die of other things there. | ... Dec 7, 2017 at 11:27
  • ... An Ice Hockey stick (Canadian style) may be ideal as a weapon BUT is hard to carry in a backpack or any other way. I keep one behind my front door. When occasionally checking noises front-yard off (as my wife sometimes requests) I carry it vertically in front of me, blade up and curving back over my head. Notionally offers some protection against a blow in the dark. Against a rabid animal such a stick would be "fast" long and easyish to wield flexibly. Dec 7, 2017 at 11:27

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