Oh, Rats!

Among the rodents that coyotes catch and eat are rats. Rats tend to be large in this area. They cannot be crunched down and swallowed whole as are the voles. They must be torn apart. Today this coyote was working on a large rat. The rat had only been eaten part-way when the coyote moved forwards and urinated on it, marking it as its own. But then, interestingly, the coyote snarled and moved a short distance where it scratched the ground — something I’ve only seen before as a sign of dominance when a dog is around. I wonder what this behavior meant here. The rat was moved and eaten some more before the coyote licked its chops and wandered off, leaving a half-eaten rat, to which it may return at a later time.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Save Sutro
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 07:37:13

    Did you see it catch the rat? Wonder if it was poaching on someone else’s rat-dinner… and growling at the scent of the actual hunter.

    Reply

    • yipps
      Sep 16, 2010 @ 18:21:23

      No, I did not see the coyote catch the rat; the rat was already torn apart when the coyote came upon it. Although the rat might have been killed by this same coyote earlier on, it could very well have “belonged” to another predator: maybe a cat or raccoon, as you suggested, which might explain the coyote’s growling and marking behavior at the scene. This makes sense to me. Interestingly, I have seen very few rats, or moles, eaten by coyotes. I have seen dead rats and moles abandoned by whomever caught them, and I have seen coyotes “play” with these same dead critters. Thank you for your input!

      Reply

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