The Wound Got Bigger

We’ve worried about the fella with the two wounds which was posted a couple of weeks ago. The wound on its haunches grew larger and redder over the next few days, maybe due to its becoming infected. Intervention is always a bad idea unless it is absolutely necessary. Trapping a coyote is extremely traumatic and harmful to these wild creatures. If antibiotics were to be offered, say, hidden in food, there is no guarantee that the right animal would get them.

I recently spoke to a medical doctor about it.  The coyote has been biting and licking it, which I thought was making the condition worse. In fact, it turns out that licking is the best that can happen. Animal saliva contains some antibiotic properties, so this self-medication is the best proactive measure — and it’s being done by the animal himself!

 

Mom Eats Grass, by Charles Wood

In this video clip Mom is pulling green shoots off a tall grass type plant and eating them. I watched Mom continuously for ten minutes after she ate that particular grass and she did not regurgitate. However, grass eating by coyotes is also known to be very often followed by the coyote soon regurgitating the grass and much else. In fact, when we see a coyote or our domestic dogs eat grass, we can be almost certain that they will soon vomit. Intrigued, I looked for a study on coyote diet. In Chicago, grass species accounted for from five to ten percent of food items found in coyote scat.

Some amount of the grass species in coyote scat must get there from the stomach contents of some of their prey. Also, some grasses eaten by coyotes never make it to their scat. Mom’s green shoots of grass assuredly left her body. I expect they later exited from her rear because they did not come up during the ten minutes I had her continuously in my sight. In my own dogs, I’ve noticed that when they eat grass leaves from my lawn, they do throw up. However, when they eat long, tender, wispy green, and succulent stems of uncut grass in my local park, my dogs don’t. My dogs love those shoots, pulling on their leashes to make sure we visit the long grass; and later pulling against their leashes when, finally bored, I begin to move them away. Mom too, seems to be enjoying her greens as much as my dogs do. Perhaps she knows not to eat too much grass leaf in order to be sure that the parts of the grass she does eat will indeed stay down.

The Grass Is Always Greener . . .

. . . . and, if you can get to it, you might as well go for it.

It was really dark out, but you wouldn’t know it from the photos — I have an ISO of 6400 which helps compensate for the darkness. The coyote begins eating grass on this side of the fence after trekking for a very short time. In fact, he may have come to this location specifically for the grass which is brown in most places of the park. It must not have tasted very good. The grass may have looked greener on the other side of the fence, because the coyote approaches the hole in the fence — it looks like he knows it well — and slithers through it. Once on the other side of the fence, the coyote continues eating, now the greener grass. When he’s eaten what he needs to, he sits down and heaves a number of times, then stands up and belches everything out. After one more nibble of grass, he heads towards the hole in the fence, and again scoots through it to continue his trekking! This little episode lasted a total of 7 minutes.

The coyote must have had an upset stomach. Just like dogs, they cleanse their insides by eating grass and then regurgite the grass, along with all the rest of the contents of their stomachs.

The hole in the fence was only about 5″ in diameter — it looked much too small for a coyote to pass through — more like a raccoon passageway. We have to remember how lean and scrawny these animals really are. In addition, the wires of the cyclone fence are bendable, and the coyote may have been able to push the wires enough to get through. Then again, maybe they indeed can fit through a 5″ hole!

Asking For Help And Receiving Some

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 Slide show has 21 slides.

I was able to get these shots between wafts of fog that kept blowing in and leaving. What is going on here is that one coyote is bothered by something on her tail area. Whatever it was, she wanted it off — possibly it was causing discomfort — maybe it was a burr or something like that which was pinching or had become embedded in her skin.

What is of interest is that this coyote was able to communicate her need to the other, and the other tried his best to help. However, the problem was not solved by his attempts to help, as can be seen by the coyote with the problem trying again to remove the source of discomfort on her own in slide #9. It appears that she was unable to do this.

Slide #10 shows that she then continued soliciting his help: walking or rolling in front of him and thrusting that sore spot in front of him.  Maybe he knew his help would be futile, or maybe he got tired of helping, or maybe the message was not so clear this time, but his interest shifted to leading them both into the woods and out of my view. I’m hoping that maybe he helped her some more once they were under cover.

Indigestion

I don’t think very many of us give thought to wild animals getting ill or feeling ill or aging. I once watched a coyote squint as it looked into the distance. I wondered if the coyote’s vision was getting blurry — like humans when they age. I wondered if their aging vision could benefit from the things we humans have so ingeniously created for ourselves: lasik or glasses?

Anyway, coyotes do get ill and they do feel bad sometimes. Today I watched a case of indigestion exacerbated by basking in an intense hot sun. I can relate to this, because when I have eaten a heavy meal and then stayed out in the direct sun for too long, I have felt that meal become sluggish rather than being digested easily.

So after two hours of basking in the intense sun and obviously having a blast doing so, the coyote moved off to a shady spot where the look in its eyes conveyed that same intestinal discomfort that we all have felt at times.  Of course, I didn’t know what was going on and wouldn’t until this sequence of events was over.

Soon, the coyote got up slowly and sluggishly wandered down a hillside where it began yanking at the tallest strands of grass and ingesting them. After several minutes of eating grasses, the coyote began to heave, billowing its stomach in and out until it’s mouth opened wide and out came an astonishing mass of undigested food. It must have astonished the coyote, too, because it stayed there looking at the pile, and then sniffed it over carefully. Finally, it tried — unsuccessfully — to “bury” the mess by using its nose to push old grasses over the pile. Then it walked slowly away.

I was able to make out that it was an entire gopher, still intact but somewhat decomposed. Gophers in this area can get pretty close to a full pound in weight. Coyotes eat gophers, not by tearing them apart, but by crunching the bones so that the entire animal can fit down it’s throat. My theory is that this huge meal and the heat of the sun made for difficult digestion, which in turn caused a nauseating feeling and then the self-medication. I’ve seen regurgitation before, but not with all the detail I saw this time. The coyote wandered off and out of sight, but not until two more stops were made for more grasses.

Parasites

Zooming into one of my photos allowed me to see the sores and bugs that inhabit a coyote’s behind area. There are some ticks and some red, wettish skin which looks like it has been scratched and licked. Too bad a paw can’t reach this area for scratching. What ends up happening is that the coyote bites at it to help reduce its distress.

I’ve seen coyotes practically trip over themselves in their need to take care of the “itch” on their behinds right away — it must be an intense annoyance. Intense scratching and scooting are signs of intestinal parasites.

Self-Medication? Scat Left On A Path: A Message?

I watched this coyote poop only a few paces before it stopped to sniff. It sniffed at the base of a tree and then at a spot on the ground close to the tree. The spot close to the tree was the greater attraction. The coyote remained sniffing here and then began to lower itself onto the spot to “roll” or “wallow” on it. The coyote only went so far as to lower its head sideways onto the spot when it changed its mind. Instead, it walked a few paces forwards and pooped, again, within a few inches of the spot it had been smelling — close enough to be called “on” it. Then it walked on. I was able to see that the coyote had sniffed a three-inch piece of cooked fish with the bone intact. How this got to the path I don’t know: we have both raccoons and coyotes who could have removed it from a patio meal plate left out, or from a garbage can.

So, after having been attracted to the fish’s strong scent, the coyote began to roll on it, but then decided to poop on it instead. Hmmm — two things, probably separate things, were going on here: rolling on something had its own purpose; and pooping right here had another — maybe?

1) Was the pooping a form of marking, of leaving a message? The coyote had just pooped a few paces earlier, with me behind on the coyote’s path. I’ve observed this same situation a couple of times before. It pooped only a few paces after the first pile: was the poop saved purposefully, like skunk scent, to be used when needed?  Was this at all related to the “rolling on the fish”?

2) Could rolling on something, such as the fish, constitute “marking IT” — the coyote leaving its own scent there, a sort of “trumping” what was already there, the same as when a coyote marks over dog poop or urine it has found? Or, as I have written before, was the coyote trying to “perfume” itself, either for the fun of it or as some kind of “disguise”? OR, and this is my new idea, is there some kind of self-medication involved in rolling on specific items — the same way we humans use ointments? Might rolling in dead smelly stuff ward off skin mites? This coyote does have patches of fur loss. Mange is a common ailment of coyotes, and can actually kill them, though I don’t know if this particular coyote is afflicted specifically with mange.

A hypothesis: I’ve gone to the Internet to find that some of the skin “treatments” for mange include apple cider vinegar or borax or a borax/hydrogen peroxide combination or even neem oil with its sulfur smelling properties. I tried to figure out what these might have in common with the smelly things I have seen a coyote rub itself on: dead lizard, dead snake, dead mole, rancid fish, and with horse manure and fish-emulsion used as fertilizer which I’ve seen dogs rub themselves in. It appears that the dead animals were left in their locations specifically to be wallowed on over and over again. Decomposition produces gases and acids. Might the mites responsible for mange be warded off by the byproducts of decomposing tissue? Or might the Ph level of these byproducts be soothing to mite-infested skin? I’m wondering if these byproducts of decomposition have some of the same properties as apple cider vinegar or borax or neem oil? I’m not a chemist or biochemist. This is just a thought I had. Feedback is welcome!