Coyote: the lithe, silent, and long-nosed huter

Here’s a wonderful little post from Coyote Yipps on the hunting habits of the coyote. It illustrates nicely the manner in which they jam their snouts into the earth (at, for example, 2:21) whilst attempting to root out rodents. (I never cease to be impressed by the strong schnozes of canines. I once met a dog, a wonderful border collie named Syd, who played basketball voraciously, using her nose to steal the ball from any human antagonist. I was always worried, but after seeing film of foxes, wolves, and now coyotes thrusting their faces into the earth, I can see that Syd knew that her lovely face was in no danger.)

Coyote Yipps

Note how gingerly this coyote initially pursues his prey in this video. He begins by listening for little scurrying sounds of voles in their vast tunnel network underground — he does not want to alert them to his presence. So he tiptoes around the spot, carefully positions himself and waits — all the while listening intently. He’s very smart about what he is doing: clever and shrewd.

The hunt then shifts from a mental strategizing to a more physical one — there is a pounce/punch with nose and forepaws, followed by digging, and then another punch of the forepaws, followed by more digging. Punching serves to force some activity below the surface — if the coyote is able to collapse a tunnel or scare the vole, the vole might move so that the coyote will either see or hear it. His last recourse is to stick his nose in a…

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2 responses

  1. Hi Jenny — Shortly after adopting a nine-month old cattle dog, my husband and I took a long walk with the newcomer. During our walk, we came upon a tether ball in a school yard. It was the weekend, so we entered the yard and started swinging that ball around. We felt the little dog would find something to sniff at. Instead, suddenly, there she was right next to us, punching that ball forcefully with her snout and causing it to go in the opposite direction. It was incredible. Yes, these guys can punch with their noses! Janet

    • What a great story! And funny, too – I’ve never heard of another dog besides Syd who liked to punch balls with their nose. It seems like they must receive *some* kind of sensory satisfaction out of it. I wonder if domesticated dogs have snouts that are somewhat restless, given their relative lack of dirt-collision, or if some dogs simply love to smash their faces into balls. Too bad we can’t ask 🙂

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