Coyotes Catch More Squirrels Than My Dog Does. Maybe He Needs a Badger, Too.

in animals •  last year


My dog loves chasing squirrels. The hills behind our house are poked full of so many ground squirrel holes that they look like Swiss cheese. During the spring and summer, there must be hundreds of them on each hill, which is a big reason why we also see coyotes, hawks, bobcats, and other appropriately-sized predators in this area.

CAgrndSq CC Flickr Howard Cheng.jpg
Ground Squirrel. Photo credit: Creative Commons via Flickr by Howard Cheng.

Alas, my dog’s ambitions are greater than his squirreling skills. He caught a vole once, but has no luck with the squirrels. I need to get him his own badger.

Recently, I wrote a post about coyotes’ adaptability and how they are expanding their geographic range. Their adaptability extends to their hunting strategies also. A few years ago, when someone told me that badgers and coyotes hunt together, I laughed. But it turns out they were very correct.

The coyote-badger partnership creates perfect synergy when they are hunting ground squirrels. Badgers borrow underground, tunneling down toward the ground squirrels’ and prairie dogs’ nests (I’ll call them “squirrels”). Meanwhile, coyotes stay on top and catch the critters running scared out of their burrows. If the coyotes scare the squirrels into their tunnels, the badgers catch them.


By working together, both predators increase their chances. How is that possible if the other animal gets some of the squirrels? Their teamwork means that the coyote and the badger may not catch a squirrel each time they hunt. But even hunting alone, they don’t win on every hunt. By teaming up and scaring the squirrels into or out of the burrows, the joint coyote-badger hunt creates more chaos and it improves their overall chances.

In other words, coyotes and badgers both have a higher chance of catching a squirrel when they hunt together than when they hunt alone. According to scientists, a coyote can catch roughly 30% more prey when hunting with a badger than when hunting alone.

Here is a video showing coyotes and badgers hunting together:

Nature is quite amazing, isn’t it? There are many symbiotic relationships in the animal world, but this is one of the strangest partnerships. One would think that two predators with the same target would be foes, but it is rarer for these two turn against one another. They recognize that each one brings a complementary skill set. Not only do they tolerate one another; coyotes and badgers also have been seen walking, running, and even relaxing together between hunts.

My dog needs his own pet badger so that he can finally catch some squirrels. He also could use some help digging holes in the backyard. He tries to bury his toys and bones back there, but in summertime, the clay soil is hard as a rock. American badgers have huge claws and have been known to dig concrete up to 2 inches thick. A pet badger certainly could loosen the soil back there. In return, I’m sure my dog would let them play with some of his toys.

Author photo

But on second thought, these badgers are mean-looking creatures. If there were a badger in our yard, I think my dog would run inside, hide under the table, and start whining. Maybe he’s not ready for his own pet.




Ecology Info Review:

Badger-Coyote Partnership, Animal Planet Video:

Hiscock, Bruce. “Coyote and Badger: Desert Hunters of the Southwest.” Boyds Mill Press (2001).
Line, Les. "The benefits of badgers." National Wildlife. December-January 1996. (Dec. 22, 2008)

Minta, Steven C.; Minta, Kathryn A.; and Lott, Dale F. "Hunting Associations Between Badgers (Taixdea Taxus) and Coyotes (Canis Latrans)." Journal of Mammology. Vol. 73. Issue 4. 1992. (Dec. 22, 2008)

Images: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Parks Service (Public Domain), unless otherwise indicated. "Stinking Badgers" image from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (Warner Brothers, 1948).

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This reminds me of what the Tibetan Bear and Fox combo do:


That's awesome. Thanks!

Great post. Dogs don''t work well with badgers like coyotes seem to. My three dogs stretched out a big badger not far from the house. They had it upside down and tried to pull it apart. I realized that the badger was just sitting there waiting for the dogs to tire and once they did, it took a swipe and almost got one of my dogs. Badgers are real tough


Wow, great story. I don't think my dog could handle one.

A good cooperation. Maybe symbiotic mutialism in universe. And a good analogy for humans.

I'd never heard of this little symbiotic relationship, but I knew badgers were tough and 'bad'.


Those claws are amazing. They are tough critters for sure.

Wow I have never heard of this and what a unlikely friendship between a badger and coyote, but it works for them they even have their own rules in seems, the video was fascinating to watch thanks @donkeypong


Nature is really amazing. I would not have suspected this partnership either.

Humans can learn much from animals. Instead of acting against each other we should pull on the same strand


That's certainly true. If you turn that into a post, send it to me and I'll upvote. ;)


I'll consider it. In the meantime I enjoy my new voting power :D

Wow, this is incredible! That is definitely not a pairing I would have suspected. As I mentioned in your first post on coyotes, I love learning about the wild things that live among us. This information definitely falls in TIL for me, and one of the cooler til's to date!


Yes, it surprised me when I first heard about this one also.


I love unlikely camaraderie between animals. I once watched a video about a polar bear playing with some huskies. The owner of the dogs had thought they were going to get killed, but instead the bear decided to 'hang out' with them instead.

Pretty cool relationship, nice to see animals working together although its bad news for the squirrels.


Yes, the squirrels have a rougher time if they can't go underground or stay above.

Don't people keep badgers as pets?


Good question. I don't know if people keep pet badgers.

Great post. I didn't know about this relationship out nature. Makes me want to take a look and see what others unique partnerships are out there!


Yes, there are many other symbiotic relationships in nature, all of them fascinating!


I took a quick google search and apparently they think sloths and moths may have a symbiotic relationship as well!

The Strange Symbiosis Between Sloths and Moths


Wow, not only do their names rhyme...

Great cooperation. :) Amazing!

What interesting video, coyote and badger hunt together! Nice !


The pictures and articles alone didn't convince me, but the video did!

"Nature is quite amazing, isn’t it? There are many symbiotic relationships in the animal world"

^^ love this. Great writing friend and fantastic post. upped

This is a very interesting post, thanks for sharing, I never knew these animals worked together like they do.

They don't always get along.

An amazing story!

Cute and funny!

Nice post @donkeypong

Coyotes really are incredibly adaptable. They will even feed on watermelon when they are readily available. I had never heard of them having a symbiotic relationship with badgers. That's remarkable! Thanks for sharing!

Really interesting!!! Makes me think of I can't remember if it is crows or ravens that help wolves hunt sometimes. Also, the dog comparison made me laugh.

what do you think about a rat-squirrel hybrid or a Leonastes aenigmamus, this is the second but here in Mexico appear news about hybrid rat-squirrel, more quickly and bigger than a comun rat.

Very special man!! Love it!!

That is awesome, my neighbor usually gets rid of his badgers on his property so this probably won't happen to get rid of my gophers on my property. I trap a lot myself, since we have horses and they are a problem then. I'd love to see them handled naturally but I think most of the farmers around here kill the coyotes cause they kill their chickens. Leaving gopher havens.

So super cool and fun to read. I always loved your well written charming stories . This one made me laugh.
What did I learn today? I had no idea what a badger is lol. Where are you from?

Nice post! I resteemed!

Hello verry intresting post !
I dont want to disturb you, but maybe you will like to support some positive project ?
Happy steeming !