I saw a coyote toying with prey today — the same way a cat does sometimes. This is the second time I’ve seen this. I think the coyote was kind of bored as it wandered. The coyote appeared to be meandering about without being too hungry, but then happened upon an easy catch. The coyote shot up and pounced down effortlessly. The occasion presented itself for some playtime or entertainment, so the coyote used the opportunity for simple amusement before gobbling down the food, seemingly as an afterthought. Please note that the coyote was careful not to crush the prey, lifting it only by the skin at the nape of the neck at first — this was probably so as not to disable the rodent totally. This actually showed me how careful a coyote could be if it wanted to. Mothers, of course, carry their pups this way. I could not see the vole until it was tossed up in the air several times, by which time it WAS disabled. The entire episode from catch to down-the-hatch took about two minutes.
Animals like to play as much as we humans do. I’ve seen videos of crows and dogs “sledding” down a slippery slope, simply for the fun of it. I have postings of a coyote playing with a ball and playing chase with a sibling. Might “toying with prey” be something akin to us humans with a wind-up-toy?