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Coyote and badger hunting as a team

Coyote and badger by Larry Lamsa

A cute video of a coyote waiting for a badger before using a culvert together to cross under a California highway has been making the rounds on Twitter. A well known behaviour for these two species but previously unobserved in the Bay Area.

They hunt together for efficiency, occupying the surface and underground, each using its own strengths.

When coyotes and badgers team up, the pairs track small, burrowing animals such as prairie dogs and ground squirrels. If the prey is above ground, the coyote usually chases it down, and the badger takes over the hunt if the prey descends underground. And not only do they find food together, but coyotes also have more success in this partnership than if they go it alone. Coyotes with badger cohorts catch an estimated one-third more ground squirrels than solo coyotes

There are some great pictures of such a hunting pair hanging out together on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s site, and articles in a number of places documenting their collaboration, like here on National Geographic who also mention this unsurprising bit of historical context:

Of course, the interaction between the two animals has long been recognized by Native Americans, like the Navajo and Hopi, who have countless stories about the coyote (the trickster) and the badger (the long-clawed, clever digger) hunting and sharing meals together.

Header image credit: Larry Lamsa on Flickr under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic licence.