Why’s This Badger Hanging Out With a Coyote?

No, this isn’t Photoshopped. A coyote and badger, usually competitors for similar prey that avoid each other, are indeed peacefully relaxing in close proximity… and also teaming up to hunt!

Interestingly enough, this behavior has been observed throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico where the two species’ ranges overlap. Coyotes (Canis latrans) and badgers (Taxidea taxus) put their heads together to hunt ground squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs, complementing each other’s strengths to increase the chance of success. The more fleet-footed coyote chases after prey above ground, while the badger takes its turn if the prey animal dives into a burrow. Researchers found that coyotes were 34% more successful when hunting with badgers versus hunting alone, though the results were statistically insignificant.

The researchers also couldn’t observe the badgers’ rate of success as the activity happened underground. It seems as though the partnership does confer some sort of advantage if it has been observed so often throughout the continent, though, and shows how intelligent coyotes and badgers are. The two widespread species certainly have done well for themselves in North America and Nevada!

There’s so much we don’t know about wildlife behavior and potential working relationships between animals. What could be the next unprecedented discovery in that field? If only the coyotes and badgers could chase after the answers, too!

Aaron Huelsman

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