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When I head out to photograph for a blog post, my quest is usually for signs of animal behavior (unless I’m focusing on plants). I fail more often than I succeed, but once in a while I hit the jackpot. I am well aware that what I call a jackpot may not be considered as such by others…and I know my heart beats fast at sights (and smells) that others’ hearts do not. Today’s post may be such an occasion.

I decided to follow coyote tracks this week in the hopes of finding evidence of some kind of canine activity. After an hour or so of crossing fields and woods, the coyote entered thick brush, so dense that even it must have had some difficulty slipping through the brambles. At the edge of this brush, its tracks led to an old stump, on the top of which the coyote had curled up and taken a nap or a much-needed rest. Eventually it jumped off the stump and continued its journey.

Coyote beds are not that rare a find, but they are always fun to come upon. Thinking I had captured a worthy post photo/topic, I clicked away, after which I observed the coyote bed more closely. It was then that I detected something small and dark in the snow at the edge of the bed (circled in red in photo). Close examination revealed that a very engorged tick had evidently had its fill of coyote blood, and had dropped off into the snow. Frosting on the cake for this morning’s quest!

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37 responses

  1. Alice Pratt

    “Frosting on the 🎂” for your post, Mary, but what disgusting little creatures.

    December 9, 2016 at 8:02 am

  2. Libby Hillhouse

    Any info on these mammals, beyond moose and deer ~ is there evidence they are also being ravaged by high tick populations??

    December 9, 2016 at 8:07 am

    • I’ve only read about ticks and deer, moose and elk. Will see if I can find out or if anyone responds to your question about other mammals!

      December 9, 2016 at 8:34 am

      • Oh thanks! One reason I ask is that 2 grey foxes seemingly died of illness right here in Danville Village (not rabies) – and it occurred to me that they may have been weakened already by ticks (or not). Maybe the question is why WOULDN’T other mammals be affected?

        December 9, 2016 at 9:35 am

  3. Dianne Rochford

    Oh Mary, you are sooooooo observant!!

    :-), Dianne >

    December 9, 2016 at 8:13 am

  4. Cheron barton

    Amazing!! Tick??!!!!!!

    Sent from my iPhone


    December 9, 2016 at 8:25 am

    • Yes, a tick. Not sure what species.

      December 9, 2016 at 8:31 am

      • Alice Pratt

        Could a deer tick get THAT large?!

        December 9, 2016 at 8:09 pm

      • I honestly don’t know, Alice, but I sent a photo to a place that’s supposed to identify it for me and will let you know if it’s a black-legged tick!

        December 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      • Hi Mary, you’ve definitely encountered an adult female blacklegged (deer) tick. It was likely attached and engorged for 5-6 days. What a cool find and terrific picture. Our TickSpotters program will respond to you with an email letting you know a bit more about the riskiness of this tick. It seems that some of your readers may also want to know about TickSpotters and I hope they’ll just go to to learn more.

        December 15, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      • Thanks, TickGuy! If you go to you’ll see I shared your great website with my readers! Thank you for the i.d.!

        December 16, 2016 at 8:22 am

      • Also – you are one of very few people who think my finding that tick on a coyote’s bed is so cool. It’s the highlight of my winter so far!

        December 16, 2016 at 9:23 am

  5. Rachael Cohen

    Mary, what will happen to this engorged tick in the snow? Will it survive to lay eggs?

    December 9, 2016 at 8:33 am

    • From what I’ve read ticks will hunker down under the snow, rehydrating and emerging when the temperatures rise to find another host.

      December 9, 2016 at 9:18 am

  6. Ron Willoughby

    Mary, Do you know what kind of a tick this is? Ron

    December 9, 2016 at 8:38 am

  7. John Cannon

    You gotta love someone who finds an engorged Tick to be “frosting on the cake” of an outing. Mary, you are wonderful. John and Sharon

    December 9, 2016 at 8:39 am

  8. Amazing timing. I tell friends when things like this happen, but it’s just not as exciting as it was for me! 🙂

    December 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

  9. What a frosting! Such a cool discovery, Mary and the way you share/describe it here is what keeps us all coming back for more!

    December 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

  10. Mary, every one of your posts is fascinating to folks like me. I can only wish that I had either enough knowledge or enough observational skills to notice the wonders that you discover and share with us each day! ALWAYS a fascinating treat!

    December 9, 2016 at 9:15 am

  11. kpmaxon

    Mary, you are my kind of geek. I love finding stuff like this!!

    December 9, 2016 at 9:36 am

  12. Kathie Fiveash

    Thank you Mary! Even a tick can be a source of wonder. Several years ago, when my students and I were studying coyotes on Isle au Haut, we became curious about coyotes and Lyme disease – there are many deer ticks on the island. I contacted Jonathan Way, who studies coyotes on Cape Cod, and often live captures them and releases them. He said that he takes blood from captured animals, and they almost all test positive for Lyme, but are asymptomatic. As I remember, it, he theorized that wild canids have been living with Lyme ticks for eons, and have developed resistance to the disease, while dogs and humans do not have that evolved resistance.

    December 9, 2016 at 10:15 am

    • That is truly fascinating, Kathie! Thanks so much for sharing those findings!

      December 9, 2016 at 10:36 am

    • I love thinking about coevolution! Thank you for sharing this tidbit. (Or should I say “tickbit”? Haha)

      December 9, 2016 at 11:54 am

  13. Helen downing

    Fascinating! I wonder if the coyote is being studied to find a cure or vaccine for
    Lyme’s. Amazingly adaptive creatures!

    December 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

  14. Diane

    My comment is not very exciting but I have found 2 engorged ticks recently. Both from my community cats.

    December 9, 2016 at 10:28 am

    • See Kathie Fiveash’s comment, Diane!

      December 9, 2016 at 10:37 am

  15. Kathie Fiveash

    There are many different species of ticks, 90 in the US alone. It is winter ticks that are killing off moose. Dog ticks are yucky, but don’t seem to carry disease the way deer ticks (also known as black-legged ticks) do – anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Lyme, etc. The CDC’s website on tick borne diseases ( only covers human diseases, and which ticks cause them, and it’s an eye-opener.

    December 9, 2016 at 11:41 am

    • Alice Pratt

      So gross! More to learn, tomorrow…thanks!

      December 9, 2016 at 8:17 pm

  16. This makes me want to get outside and track some mammals. Thank you.

    December 9, 2016 at 11:55 am

  17. Cool post! (As always.) If you upload the photo to this University of Rhode Island website they will tell you what kind of tick it is, M or F, stage, and how long it had been feeding:

    December 9, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    • I sent it in and will see what they say – thanks, Gretchen!

      December 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    • Alice Pratt

      That is fascinating! Wish I’d known that when I had a tick on the top of my head 😝😩

      December 9, 2016 at 8:15 pm

  18. Viola

    Naturally Curious with Mary Holland equals everyday amazement! How fortunate am I to share in what Mary’s keen eyes see.

    December 9, 2016 at 12:41 pm

  19. “FROSTING on the cake”. Some would not appreciate 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone


    December 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm

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