TNB Night Owl – Coyotes and Badgers Partner Up

Coyote and badger partner up in video by Peninsula Open Space Trust. Screen capture by Richard Doud

Coyotes and badgers, two carnivorous predators who don’t always get along, sometimes partner up to hunt for food. This behavior has been observed and documented in locations all across North America, and it’s nothing new; Native Americans also recorded the interspecies partnership.

The symbiotic arrangement is beneficial to both animals, since they have different but complimentary hunting skills. Badgers can’t run fast, but they can dig like the dickens. Coyotes aren’t great diggers, but they’re fast on their feet. By combining forces (usually one badger and one coyote, but sometimes two coyotes) they increase the likelihood of catching burrowing prey, such as ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and marmots.

These rodents run into their burrows when they sense danger. That’s a problem for the coyote, who can’t dig fast enough to catch them before they leave through the back door. Coyotes stand a much better chance of catching dinner above ground. However, what the coyote can do for the badger is to chase the rodents into their holes.

The badger isn’t quick enough to chase down a rodent above ground. But he excels at digging underground into the burrow of his prey, where he hopes to corner his next meal. If a rodent escapes out the emergency exit, the coyote is ready to run it down. Flushing prey out of their safe space is what the badger does for the coyote.

If you’re thinking, “oh, the poor squirrels, prairie dogs, and marmots”, please realize this is all part of the balance of nature. Without predators, these rodents would breed like rabbits (if you will) and overpopulate, decimating their own food sources, which ultimately leads to starvation, disease, and slow death.

Also, it should be recognized that coyotes and badgers don’t always hunt together or play nice. There are even times when these predators look at each other as a potential meal, presumably when their natural prey is in short supply. Again, it’s just nature and survival instinct at work – nothing personal, you understand.

With all that in mind, take a look at this video that recently went viral of a coyote and a badger getting along like old friends off on a hunting trip together.

L.A. Times video – “This coyote playfully pounces at its new badger friend”

Now, it may be presumptuous of the L.A. Times to declare that this is a new friendship as there seems to be much trust already present between the two. At any rate, the coyote is certainly enthusiastic if possibly a little impatient for the badger to waddle faster.

The nighttime video is a product of the combined efforts of the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) and Pathways for Wildlife, who teamed up to conduct a three-year study, “to better understand how wildlife interact with the major roadways that surround the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains”. The human partners set up over 50 cameras with remote-sensors under bridges and at culverts that were built to encourage wildlife to go under roads.

POST observed that, “this is the first documentation (that we know of) showing a coyote and badger using a human-made structure to travel together safely”.

Question of the night: What did you have for dinner last night?

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
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