Novelty Spurs A Super Playtime At The Rendezvous

A while back I was told by someone with some animal behavior training, that “novelty” is something coyotes stay away from. That novelty and smelly human socks were things coyotes avoided and therefore could be used to drive coyotes away.

Actually, the opposite seems to be true. I’ve seen coyotes absolutely delight in smelly old human shoes, their socks, coats and hats: they tend to actually be attracted to these things and to anything novel, including balloons waving in the wind, and even large objects like huge dirt piles and tractors — and no matter that the size and configuration of the huge dirt piles changed daily over a five day period, that the tractors were never in the same places, that the huge log piles grew and then slowly disappeared over a five day period, the coyotes returned for their play there day after day.

The morning that I took these photos, a huge, deep hole had been dug into the very level ground. It went down as deep as the piled up dirt was high. You can’t really tell from my photo, but the pit is very deep. My fear when I saw the hole was that if I, or a coyote from the family which roams the area were to slide in, there would be no getting out without help. Luckily, everyone was sure-footed and no one fell in!

So, after the tractors had done their work in the morning, I arrived at the huge pit and dirt pile. It was rendezvous time, which is the evening get-together when coyotes meet-up for play, grooming, re-confirming their family positions and eventually trekking. At the allotted time — and I must say that I don’t know how each coyote knows to appear at about the same time because they emerge from different areas of the park — possibly they’re just waiting and watching — they raced excitedly and playfully towards each other with greetings.

Initial play and greetings before heading over to the novel items

Their greetings were full of fun, as usual, and then they headed straight over to the three huge tractors and dirt pile that hadn’t been there the day before, where they exploded in play: running around as though these things had been placed there specifically for their enjoyment! They ran and chased each other along the top ridge of the dirt, and up and down, they explored the tractors, they explored and clambered all over the high wood-pile. And they smiled at all their fun. They did not avoid anything new, and it all was new. Enjoy the fun!

Smiling and happy after an intense chase on the ridge of the dirt pile

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bobbie Pyron
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 14:53:58

    Great photos as always, Janet! I can’t imagine an animal as intelligent as a coyote not reveling in new things!


  2. yipps:janetkessler
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 16:25:53

    Exactly! “Reveling!” :))


  3. Connie Chambers
    Aug 26, 2018 @ 17:27:30

    This is absolutely delightful… wonderful photos!


  4. environmentalhealthpolicy
    Aug 27, 2018 @ 18:57:50

    Wow, these are great photos! I’m so glad (and a bit jealous) that you got to see this first-hand. I wonder, however, if coyotes that are more wary because they have been shot at or encountered traps, would behave very differently. These coyotes, fortunately, have not lived in an area where humans typically put out things to kill them, so they may feel more comfortable interacting with the novel items as playthings. Very interesting!


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Aug 27, 2018 @ 22:42:36

      I have had no experience with shot-at animals in rural areas. However, they are caught by leg-hold traps all the time because they are willing to investigate that novel situation. :((

  5. Kathy Lally
    Sep 07, 2018 @ 18:36:28

    Janet, our coyotes love our old socks and shoes. In our case it may be different because these items smell of their caretakers.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Sep 07, 2018 @ 19:13:41

      That’s interesting! But I don’t think that has much to do with it here since there are no “caretakers” for any of the coyotes I’ve watched who appear to be attracted to, and delight playing with these found things.

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