Found Treasure

This coyote began heading off of the path and into the bushes when she eyed something on the path ahead. She must have known what it was because she went straight to it and, without sniffing it, picked it up and carried it, doubling back to where she originally had been headed off the path, then into the bushes she disappeared with her treasure!

It was just a little solid piece of wood — a stick. I’ve picked up little rocks simply because I liked them. Maybe she liked the look of the stick, or maybe it was a stick which she had already previously possessed as a treasure — so she may have simply found “an old lost friend”.

Coyotes enjoy picking up odd shaped or unusual things to play with, either chewing on them, tossing them up in the air to catch them, or playing tug-of-war with a companion. Certain of these items become “owned” for a while until they are either lost or tired of. Here are some other posts about finding special things and treating them in unexpected, or expected, ways:

Entertainment: Abandon and Fun With A Ball!

Mischief or Just A Diversion?

A Coyote Buries A rock, or Leaves a Present For Ailing Squirrel, by Heather

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Charles Wood
    Oct 27, 2015 @ 22:24:25

    Hi Yipps! I just want to speculate a little on this post and on the buried rock post mentioned in the post.

    Let’s say the coyote found a stick, or a rock. Let’s say the coyotes’ behaviors showed that the coyotes had placed a high value on them. One coyote carried a stick around. I can understand a stick is a high value item. It has weight, it can be chewed, others might want it. Does that stick carrying coyote think that Janet wants that stick? If so, that might be fun for a coyote, fun to have something that another wants.

    But a rock?!? And burying the rock after taking it on a journey? We do know that coyotes cache food for later. But a rock?! It may be that a rock was interesting to the coyote became the coyote felt that the rock was a high value object. Maybe the rock became a high value object because some other coyote wanted it. A coyote knows how to cache high value food, so why not cache a high value rock? I don’t really know.

    But how do we get a sense of what those behaviors are about? Coyote behavior is plastic, malleable. A coyote seems to be able to make even a rock fit into its caching pattern of behavior. Why? For survival reasons gone wrong?

    That survival kind of explanation leaves me cold. I would rather acknowledge that a coyote has feelings that guide its behavior, sometimes to no purposeful end other that it just felt wonderful to do. Wonderful to carry a rock around and wonderful to bury it. Feeling wonderful about something fits into a pattern of behavior that is fun, and those fun feelings have a lot to do with the nuts and bolts of how it is that a coyote can survive and have children.


    • yipps
      Oct 28, 2015 @ 00:23:45

      Hi Charles —

      Wonderful comment! And I totally agree. They do a lot of things “for the fun of it and because it just feels wonderful to do so”. This rock-burying behavior also shows that they are able to carry out a project: find a rock, assign some kind of value or meaning to it, bury it for some kind of reason — possibly for future use, or to keep it from another coyote, or to get rid of it? These are their secrets and we are not privy to them, but we know these things go on.

  2. Charles Wood
    Oct 28, 2015 @ 19:47:04

    Maybe when a coyote carries out a project, like foraging, it is following its bliss. If in following its bliss a coyote finds a rock, a coyote can still play with the rock blissfully. I think that coyote really knew it was just a rock. But the miracle of life is that a coyote can find a way to have bliss with a rock anyway. Still, I don’t think a coyote would go find its buried rock. It knew that it was just a rock that it buried. There are plenty of other rocks around for a coyote to play with.


    • yipps
      Oct 28, 2015 @ 20:36:37

      It might be part of his/her bliss and I’m sure the coyote knew it was a rock. But was it a “special” rock that was buried or just any old rock with no meaning? Here’s another thought. Maybe the coyote felt he was burying his dead — maybe even a dead friend? Do you know if coyotes bury their dead? I’ve never seen it, but it has been suggested to me recently. The person who suggested this hasn’t seen it either, but for such family minded animals, might there be a possibility that they do this? The only burials I’ve seen by coyotes involve burying dead gophers and then retrieving them several days later. I saw one dig up a whole raccoon that had been buried/submerged in a marshy area — that, again, was something to be retrieved later. Janet

  3. Charles Wood
    Oct 29, 2015 @ 00:42:59

    A coyote burying a dead friend? To me, coyotes appear too pragmatic to bury their dead and that pragmatism is a bit too gruesome at times for me to contemplate.

    As to the rock, it looks to be a toy, just as a ball is a toy for our dogs. Some dogs have special balls. Who knows what made that particular ball special? It would be kind of cool to see one of our dogs bury its special ball. However I’m not so sure our dogs would remember that they buried their special ball.


  4. Charles Wood
    Oct 29, 2015 @ 08:04:13

    All humans before us have asked
    “What shall we make of coyote?”

    Say all humans living today
    “What shall we make of coyote?”

    Our children’s children yet will ask
    “What shall we make of coyote?”

    All ask and ask and ask and ask
    “Will ever we know coyote?”


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