Coyote with suspected rabies

I’m not clear from the email if the coyote is suspected of having rabies just because it is limping… it could simply have a hurt foot/leg.

The rabies virus attacks the nervous system. It causes severe inflammation of the brain which produces abnormal behavior such as staggering, loss of balance, partial paralysis, hallucinations, aggression, confusion, excessive saliva and/or tears and difficulty swallowing. I would ask if they’ve observed the animal staggering, like not able to keep it’s balance when walking and trying to get up. Have they seen it staring, snarling or lunging at nothing (and are they sure its really nothing and not a pesky fly)? Wandering aimlessly? If its a nocturnal animal and is seen out during the day (and otherwise behaving normally) it doesn’t mean its rabid – it could be a mother having to hunt longer hours to feed both herself and her young.

As Linda said, if you’re not sure, refer to a rehabber before an ACO. Once the animal is caught its difficult – and I think not allowed – for the ACO to make a judgment on their own, especially if the animal is trying to defend itself (spit-flying snaps, snarls and lunging when someone gets near could be natural responses for a recently caged wild animal)… or is it being uncharacteristically aggressive and is that excessive saliva or normal for an animal that’s scared out of its mind?? So the animal is most likely going to be euthanized since taking samples of brain tissue is the only way to test for it.

I’d also call a rehabber for species you’re not familiar with – I wouldn’t be able to tell if a skunk were wandering aimlessly or just looking for food. If its continually stumbling while wandering aimlessly, then I’d be calling Animal Control pronto.

Wildlife Rescue League - Viriginia
Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800