Rabies Species FAQ

What species are designated as rabies species in North Carolina?

Rabies species are bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, bobcats and coyotes.

Can all rabies species be rehabilitated with a North Carolina RS license?

No, coyotes can not be rehabilitated.  Bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes and bobcats are covered under the RS license.

Can coyotes be rehabilitated in North Carolina?

No, coyotes cannot be rehabilitated.

Can adult animals be rehabilitated or does the license only cover orphaned young?

Yes, adults can be rehabilitated.

How long must someone have been permitted to be eligible for an RS license in North Carolina?

A rehabilitator must have held a North Carolina or equivalent license and actively rehabbed for at least the previous 3 years to be eligible for an RS license.

Can someone who is a new rehabilitator obtain an RS rehab license?

No, 3 years of rehab experience are needed to be eligible for an RS license.

How much training is required to obtain a North Carolina RS license?

12 hours of rabies or rabies species-specific training or a combination thereof are required. 

Do all 12 hours of training have to be done at one time?

No, parts of the training can be taken at various times and locations.

Must the training be taken in North Carolina?

No, the training can be taken in other states, but should include a session given by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Do the training hours taken to get the license expire?

No, the training hours do not expire.

Is a pre-exposure vaccination required to obtain an RS license?

Yes, applicants must certify up-to-date rabies immunization and maintain a titer of .5 or higher.

If an applicant who had pre-exposure immunization in the past,  gets their titer checked and their titer is .5 or higher, do they need to provide records of their original pre-exposure immunizations. 

No, they can certify up-to-date immunization with the titer check.

If an applicant has had pre-exposure immunizations in the past do they need to get them again?

No, not the whole series.  The applicant can get their titer checked.  A booster is required if the titer is not .5 or higher.

How often should titers be checked?

Titers should be checked every two years.

Is a rehabilitator required to have the help of a veterinarian to rehab RS?

Yes, a veterinarian who is willing to work with RS  must sign the rehabilitator’s application.

Can a veterinarian rehab an animal after treating it?

A veterinarian cannot keep an animal to rehab it (unless the veterinarian has his/her own rehab license for RS).  The veterinarian must turn the animal over to a licensed rehabilitator.

What arrangements must be made with the health department to rehab rabies species?

The applicant must establish a relationship with the county health department before taking in any animals

Does an applicant have to notify the local Animal Services/Shelter that they will be rehabilitating RS?

Yes, Animal Services should be contacted before taking in any animals.

Can RS be housed in the same facilities as non-RS?

RS animals in rehab must be separate from non-RS animals. They can be in the same building, but in different rooms.
RS animals must be separate from pets and other wildlife.
Each rabies species must be housed separately.

RS must be housed in a way to prevent any contact with any other animal.

Can a rehabilitator who does not have an RS license transport RS?

Yes, but any transporter who contacts rabies species must have the pre-exposure vaccination.

Is the Wildlife Commission going to inspect caging before issuing an RS license?

No.  Inspections will occur after the license has been issued.

Does an RS rehabilitator have to rehab all the rabies vector species?

No, a rehabilitator can specify the species to be rehabbed at their facility. 

If someone doesn’t plan on rehabbing RS, can they still get a wildlife rehab permit?


In North Carolina is rabies policy enforced by the state health department? 

No, North Carolina is a decentralized state. Rabies policy is enforced by the county Health Departments.

Is rabies a reportable disease?

Yes, all possible exposures must be reported to the local Health Department and Animal Services.

Can baby animals have rabies?

Yes, animals of all ages can contract rabies.

What variant of rabies is found in North Carolina?

The East Coast raccoon variant is found in North Carolina.  Raccoons were the host that developed this strain.  The other species in North Carolina can become infected with the raccoon variant.

Should rehabilitators submit animals directly to the lab for testing?

No, Animal Services submits animals.  Rehabilitators should have a relationship with Animal Services and turn animals over to them to submit to the lab.

If a person who has had the pre-exposure vaccination is exposed, can they have their titer checked to eliminate the need for a booster if their titer is .5 or higher? 

No, the presence of an adequate titer does not eliminate the need for boosters when a person is exposed.

If a rehabilitator is located in the oral vaccine drop zone and only allowed to rehab bats, can the rehabilitator take in other RVS to pass off to a rehabilitator out of the drop zone?

The rule allows an individual 24 hours to get an injured or orphaned animal or bird to an appropriately licensed rehabilitator. If someone picks up a rabies species in an ORV county they can bring it to a rabies rehabilitator located outside of the ORV counties. It should not be brought to a rehabilitator that is not appropriately licensed for rabies species. If one does show up to a rehabilitator not appropriately licensed, the rehabilitator should get it to a rabies rehabilitator as soon as reasonably possible. They should not hold onto the animal for any reason.

Can licensed rabies rehabilitators have people assisting them at their facility if the assistants have had their pre-exposure immunizations?

Yes, staff members and volunteers can work with rabies species at a licensed rabies facility if they have their pre-exposure shots.