Family Interactions & Dynamics

These interactions lasted about nine minutes. It was not light enough to see anything but the outline of one coyote when I arrived at the scene. I sat down to watch. Soon I became aware of two more coyotes — the mother and subservient sibling, resting only a few feet away from the first fella — the dominant sibling. I’ve put captions on the photos rather than explain it here below. This family interaction took place a while back — at the beginning of November. The family consists of a single mom and her two 21-month-old male offspring who have recently established a strong hierarchy between themselves.

The dominant sibling is the one doing all the approaching on this day: he approaches his sibling to dominate him, and he approaches his mom to increase his bond with her at the expense of his brother.  Of special interest here is that after Mom watches Dominant Sibling hover over and dominate his more subservient sibling, she then makes sure to let this dominating fellow know that she is above him. She does this first by taking his snout in hers and then by raising herself above him with her paws on his back. He allows her to do this: he is below her in the hierarchy, but above his brother.

Displays of dominance include a dominant muzzle enclosed over the more subservient muzzle, standing over and higher than the other fellow, holding the tail up high often with hackles up, approaching. Signs of submissiveness I’ve seen include cowering with ears down or back, head held lower and moving in a slinking fashion, displaying vulnerable parts and letting the dominant guy bite your inner thighs, hitting the ground on your back showing the belly, fleeing.

 

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