Squirrel Dragging Back Legs (What It Means)

Jasmine Okechukwu
Squirrel Dragging Back Legs (What It Means)

Spotting a squirrel dragging its back legs is quite an unusual sight to see. And if you’re troubled about it, you have every reason to be.

Squirrels are endangered animals, they rank as one the lowest in the food chain. They twitch their tails a lot to pass a warning message amongst themselves and their legs as a tool to escape from danger.

Squirrels will run from place to place now and then. They are very active animals that do a lot of things and dragging their back feet is naturally not one of them. So then why will a squirrel drag its back legs?

A squirrel will drag its back legs due to a leg injury or paralysis. Squirrels are not strangers to leg injuries or spinal inflammations as they do a lot of jumping from high trees to fences which could take a toll on their hind legs, joints, or spinal cords. 

Naturally, squirrels are petite and defenseless animals. A healthy squirrel is an easy target to predators, how much more one with broken feet. 

This post’s major focus is to provide you with all the informational needs concerning what it means for a squirrel to drag its back legs, and what you can do to help the situation. So let’s dive right into it. 

What Does It Mean When A Squirrel Drags Its Back Legs?

There are so many things that happen in the wild that we know nothing about. It is the lifestyle of squirrels to climb and jump high fences and trees in a quest for food or while chasing and playing around. This makes it unusual for this hyperactive animal to be seen dragging its feet.

The following are valid reasons why a squirrel will drag its back legs;

1. Spinal Trauma

The fact is squirrels gymnastics, they are smart and athletic naturally. They put their brains, tails, and legs to work to survive in the wild. Their agility speaks volumes for them. However, the nature of their lifestyle can be dangerous sometimes as their extreme sport can lead to a fall which could result in spinal trauma. 

Not only can they fall from treetops, a few times their overconfidence and miscalculations can prompt them to get hit by a car. Moreso spinal trauma can also be caused by a disease or inflammation around or close to the spinal column. 

However, spinal cord injuries or trauma lead to back leg paralysis. The squirrel won’t be able to feel or move those legs anymore, hence the dragging of its back legs. 

2. Hind Leg Injury

These acrobatic animals sometimes get involved in unfortunate occurrences that cause their back legs to get broken or dislocated. They could fall from a high treetop or get attacked by a predator and these can cause them to break a bone or dislocate their joints. And the pain from the injury would cause them to drag their back legs. 

eating squirrel

What To Do To Help Squirrels With This Condition

Unfortunately, a squirrel with bad legs has very low chances of surviving in the wild. There are quite several things you can do to help a squirrel in distress and give it a better chance of recovering and surviving. 

1. Rescue The Squirrel 

Squirrels are usually calm but are careful while trying to rescue them as they might try to be defensive. Gently pick up the squirrel, and put it in a safe box. This way you are keeping it safe from predators like snakes, cats, dogs, owls, hawks, and coyotes. In the meantime, you can provide basic care to the squirrel by cleaning it up, and feeding them calcium-packed foods, before calling for professional help. 

2. Take It To The Vet

The squirrel certainly needs medical attention, taking it to the vet can do a lot of good, as diagnosis and treatment will be done to help the squirrel recover faster and get back fully on its legs. 

3. Reach Out To A Rehabilitation Center 

It is illegal in some states in the United States, to keep a squirrel in the house. This is because squirrels will always be squirrels and can hardly be domesticated. The best thing you can do for the injured squirrel is to call a rehabilitation center. 

The rehabilitation center will examine the squirrel to ascertain if the paralysis is permanent or not. Either way, they will take the squirrel in and nurse it until it is fully recovered and can return to the wild. 


A squirrel will only drag its back legs only if it is hurt, in pain, or has paralyzed legs. This is a huge setback for this squirrel as its condition puts it at high risk of getting attacked by predators. An injured squirrel’s chances of surviving out in the wild are very slim. 

However, you can protect it by rescuing it, and also call for professional help either from the vet or the rehabilitation center. 

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