Animals That Cooperate: Better Together

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Last month, a video of a coyote and a badger seemingly carrying on a friendship, or cooperating, took the internet by storm. In the video, a badger and coyote are seen using a manmade structure to cross under a highway. 

A coyote at sunset, camoflaging perfectly
People are often captivated by seeing cross species cooperation in the animal kingdom. If you have not already, watch the video here:

                                                  Video by Pennisula Open Space Trust 

This video captured the hearts of people worldwide, gaining millions of views across a variety of platforms. Seeing this footage had people everywhere wondering whether this was normal or regularly occuring behaviour. The answer is yes! Coyotes and badgers have been known to hunt together, which has been observed and recorded in Indigenous knowledge as well as scientific studies.

The prey species that coyotes and badgers share have ways of evading each of them, but together they can form an unstoppable team. Badgers and coyotes both prey on small mammals. Rodents have no chance of outrunning a coyote, but they can burrow underground and escape them. Badgers can easily dig into the ground and pull a rodent from a burrow. However, the rodent has a chance to run out the other end. When these two species work together, there is little chance for prey to escape, they compliment each others strengths as badgers dig prey out and coyotes run them down.

There was so much positive impact from this video reaching so many people. Coyotes are often thought of in a negative light, as predators that are sometimes cast as "wily" or "dangerous". This video depicts a playful interaction, as a coyote waits for and encourages his "friend" to walk into the unknown, together. It also was the first documented recording of this dynamic duo using a man-made structure to travel alongside each other. My hope is that it made people resonate further with both of these animals, and the threats they face such as roadways.

We all have a lot to learn from this pair, who have further underlined that our differences can be our strength, if we work together and cooperate with each other.



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