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Tick Paralysis

We spotted a Coyote in our backyard, laying near some outdoor lawn chairs.  When we approached she did not jump up and run, as would be expected, but attempted to crawl up the side of the yard.  She was clearly unable to walk and did not respond like a wild animal would.

We called our local wildlife rescue ( and they immediately responded, threw a sheet over the animal to keep her calm and took her to the rescue facility.  A vet examined her and found she was a young female and was covered in ticks.  Tests were done and the diagnosis was Tick Paralysis.

Tick Paralysis rarely affects humans but it is well known in dogs, sheep, horses, pigs and other animals when a feeding tick produces a neurotoxin. It is most common in the Spring from April to June. The toxin travels through the lymph system and can affect respiration, vocal cords, limbs and results in inability to walk.  It is fatal, usually due to respiratory failure.

The incidence in humans is unknown and it usually affects only children.

Our little Coyote patient had all the ticks removed at Wildcare and the paralysis resolved within 24 hours.  She was given Frontline to protect from future ticks and released back to the wild.

Because Coyotes are solitary during the day but join their pack at night, the experts try to release them back to the area she was picked up.  The animals don't do well if they are released to a new, strange area.  I hope that doesn't mean my backyard but nearby is just fine.  We were also told that Coyotes rarely attack cats and dogs (unless they are there for easy access) and their diet is usually small rodents, berries and roots.

As we continue to build in wild areas, we need to co-exist with wild animals.  We were glad we could save this little female Coyote.


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