Can non-human animals (whether mammals, birds, insects, fish... etc) become carriers of, or become infected by, the "zombie" virus in The Walking Dead universe? I have developed this question from an initial thought about whether transmission of the virus through mosquitoes is possible (I noticed that as far as we see on screen, they don't appear to be taking precautions against mosquito bites, which suggests that they aren't a threat, but there hasn't been any definitive indication one way or the other thus far).

I have only seen the TV version and know nothing about whatever is in the comics. I am interested in answers relating to either domain (but please specify which one you are referring to in your answer).

Thus far in the TV series, the exact nature of the disease and its transmission is only partially understood. As of S02 E13, 'Beside the Dying Fire',

it is known that all humans carry the virus and will re-animate after death, as long as they have not suffered head trauma that damages the brain.

Before this information was known, the characters considered whether transmission through scratches in the skin was possible (S02 E10, '18 Miles Out'): Remember that this could STILL be a possibility for...

any human that, for whatever reason, has not yet been exposed to the virus and is not a carrier (there could be someone who was mountaineering/hiking in the wilderness, etc. and thus may not yet have been exposed to whatever source has caused other humans to become carriers).

The scratch idea is what got me thinking about the mosquitoes.

Given the fact that

theoretically ALL humans are already carriers anyway,

I realise that the possibility of transmission through mosquitoes, or any other animal, is kind of irrelevant anyhow, but I'm still interested in whether this has been clearly addressed anywhere. Whenever we see animals in the TV show, they are either alive and seemingly normal (e.g. the deer in S02 E01, 'What Lies Ahead'; the cattle and horses later in the series), or they have been recently bitten by a Walker but have not actually died yet (e.g. the horse in S01 E01, the cow in S02 E11). We never see any animal that appears to have died and re-animated.

Does anyone know of any clear evidence that definitively confirms or refutes the idea of "zombie animals" (or birds, insects etc.), or animals that are carriers (that is, animals who contain the virus in their system but who are not harmed by it, as in the case of mosquitoes carrying malaria)? Speculation is permitted but I would prefer clear, specific in-universe examples, or information from the authors/creators.

  • Sorry that was so long, but I felt that all that info was necessary... BTW, this is my FIRST EVER question that I've asked on here (woohoo!), so I apologise if there's anything else wrong with it. I've tried to follow what I understand to be the rules... Let me know if it needs fixing up. :)
    – RuthP27
    Mar 20, 2012 at 7:38
  • Zombie bears sound scary, but zombie rats would have overun the world before the end of the first season. +1 for making me picture zombie bears. Mar 21, 2012 at 16:02
  • Would three mosquitos be drawn to dead bodies for blood. I was under the belief that mosquitos are drawn to the CO2 given of by breathing animals. That is why stores sell co2 fog producers as a repellent by drawing the mosquitos to a different location. However if the virus can exist in a dead carcass like one of the zeds, then the virus could survive in a insect like a mosquito. Many of the big hitters need a Carrier that has an equivalent body heat. On a side note the idea of everyone being infected, just with a passive version had been done in the series Newsflesh. Great series in my opinio Nov 5, 2012 at 22:48

9 Answers 9


No, we should see little or no infection in animal populations given the parameters of the infection.

  • This outbreak appears to be the result of a biologically-engineered weapon gone wrong.
  • As such, it is very unlikely to target DNA of subjects other than its target.
  • Since it was likely to be spread by an aerial vector, if there were going to be affected animals, no matter how remote the possibility, it would have happened by now.
  • While mosquitoes and other blood drinking insects may carry the infection, they will not be subject to it since the DNA is human genome specific.
  • The actual vector has not be alluded to, but it is likely to be a viral infection since that would give it a much longer transmission lifespan and make it much more difficult to treat.
  • While viral mutation is a possibility (viruses are subject to random mutation in nature) it is likely to be a remote chance the virus will mutate to affect a particular animal.
  • Out of curiosity, what evidence is there that the outbreak was caused by a biologically-engineered weapon? (I'm not a reader of the comic books, maybe it's explained there? There is little evidence of this in the TV series...)
    – Andres F.
    Mar 2, 2015 at 18:59
  • Kirkman has explicitly stated that we will never see zombie animals in either the comics or the show.
    – Wad Cheber
    Nov 1, 2015 at 23:40
  • I thought that there was a zombie cow in episode 11 of season 2 that Dale finds when he is attacked by the walker? Jun 8, 2016 at 5:13

In the "Letter Hacks" at the end of issue 38 of the comic, Kirkman sort of addresses this issue.

"Also, is there anyway we'll see some zombie dogs or other animals?"

No zombie animals. Don't these characters have enough to deal with?



The general consensus among fans seems to be that this means that there are no zombie animals - that they're immune. Personally, I find the answer a little vague and open to possibly meaning that the comic just won't deal with them - but that's just me.

Anecdotally, in issue 117, King Ezekial mentions that the virus does not seem to affect animals - though exactly what he is basing this on is unclear.

King Ezekial: no zombie animals

  • This is the correct answer.
    – Wad Cheber
    Jun 8, 2016 at 1:05

I don't think it's very likely. In the source comics we've yet to see any examples of non-human undead (and the comics have been going on for years).

Similarly, given the rapid spread of the disease the only sensible transmission model is an airborne one. Thus, the only people who are unlikely to have been affected are those who are in airtight seals - such as people who were in submarines. Given the average time a sub can stay submerged before having to resurface, it's likely that every sub has had to surface at least once since the outbreaks, and the crews would thus have been exposed.

My answer is fairly specific to the source comics, but (as far as I know) there's nothing in the TV series that refutes it (though it's possible the series could still have subs that haven't had to surface yet).

  • I just read here that the Russian Typhoon class subs can stay under for 6 months. According to this question it sounds like the very first case was at least 6 months prior to where we are up to now (I don't remember exactly what 'Wildfire' refers to), but even if the virus is airborne, there may still be some subs that submerged while they were still "out of range"... Now THAT would be an interesting plot development, if some of them were to turn up... :p
    – RuthP27
    Mar 28, 2012 at 4:38
  • 1
    @RuthP27: Of course, by the time we saw any on screen, they'd have to surface...
    – Jeff
    Mar 28, 2012 at 13:36

Here's some interesting facts (assuming that the virus is airborn):

  • If you look at the outside of animal cells (specificly throat cells), you can see that there are "locks/keys" and the same on the outside of a virus.
  • if the virus' "locks/keys" fit those of the cell, it is granted access to the the inside of the cell where it will reproduce until the cell explodes and unleashes more viruses.
  • Not every animal has the same "locks/keys" as others and some are entirely different, and seeing as how Apes are only one difference in there genetic code from ours, it is very likely that there is at least a few "zombie animals" out there. (we just have'nt seen any yet)

I know when they were on the farm, Hershel mentions that there is a segregated/ safe area where he keeps the farm animals they have been using to eat. So I think that although it isn't really answered , and we have yet to see them encounter a virus infected animal, that it is safe to assume that it is something they worry about and think about. Hopefully come Oct. 13th and throughout the new season, we can have some more answers.

I know if I was in the WD, it is something I would be worried about for sure, I am surprised that Daryl hasn't mentioned anything about the animals and whether they get infected from being attacked by the undead, for how many birds, coons, squirrels, etc. He has bowed and eaten. ¤meloddic¤

  • @meloddic Good point!
    – meloddic
    Sep 27, 2013 at 21:06
  • 1
    Nice Pat-on-the-Back in lieu of a non-allowed upvote to your own answer.
    – wbogacz
    Sep 27, 2013 at 23:46

I do not know how much the TV script will diverge from the comics, but I think they have left a clue as to how the virus has been spread: Crows

The birds are in the opening credits. In several of the illustrations and visuals in the menus there are depictions of flocks of crows. If you listen to the background sounds in many, many many scenes (the farm, the school, etc) you either see or hear crows.

Likely that a bird species would be a carrier of the virus and be responsible for widespread distribution, while not succumbing to the virus itself. It happens all of the time in "real life".

  • 4
    -1 There are no examples in the comics or the television series displaying infected non-humans. Crows are just a common metaphor for death throughout art. I don't think they have a function beyond setting the mood and tone of the series. Nov 5, 2012 at 21:34
  • 1
    @MarkRogers True, Jim doesn't say the crows are infected, only a vector. A good answer to the wrong question.
    – rath
    Jun 2, 2014 at 3:05

If you watch the Season 1 and 2 intro, they always show a clip of blackbirds eating blood/flesh from a blood soaked teddy bear (what it is exactly I may be incorrect as I dont have the film in front of me). This got me to think that the virus was able to be carried by animals even though the host never contract the illness. This perhaps helped to spread the virus to non-adjacent communities. So I agree with @Thaddeus assessment -specifically point 4. I do not recall seeing an instance where we see an animal infected although the zombies make little distinction upon available flesh to eat (e.g. horses, cows, etc).


I think personally that with all of the information they have given us animals should be infected but most of the time they get killed before turning i.e when ricks horse was eaten alive. But the cow that was in the field of the farm..

That had was being eaten by the zombie that killed the old guy with the R.V

had made a weird noise that I thought was either it turned or maybe just my imagination. Anyway the disease is also a brain cancer type deal so some bugs have only basic instincts in the first place so it would not technically effect them. But the thought that if an insect bit you that you would turn is also like saying that if Rick bit Carl, Carl would turn.


There are no zombie animals in the comic because the guy who draws the comics doesn't like drawing animals. I strongly believe that infected birds will be the new threat in season 4 of The Walking Dead.

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