Nine

Have you ever wondered how a coyote ages, or even thought about it? It’s similar to us. Most of the changes occur during early-life growth and then during old-age and decline. In-between these more obvious changes, there are slower and more subtle changes as the animal continues to mature and evolve, weathering the elements and bearing the tatters and tears of everyday life. No different from your dog’s. No different from us.

Chert just turned nine years old — Happy Birthday Chert. I’ve known her her entire life and witnessed the changes she’s gone through. She was born into a litter of a three surviving pups. She herself had her first litter — a singleton pup — at the age of two, and she’s not done yet! It appears that she’s having another litter this year! Go Chert! And she still has four just-turned-yearlings at home who have not dispersed out of a litter of five born last year, one of whom has dispersed. I know Chert’s ancestors going back to before 2009 and several two generations of descendants in the city.

In this posting I’m concentrating on ever so subtle changes of facial features through the years. A coyote’s face is covered with fur which hides many things, but you can see some of her *history* in the visible scars on her face. They are pretty minor: Chert has lived a fairly easy life. A big change in her appearance surfaced at about the age of 5. No one recognized her after she had been absent for many weeks, and even I had to see her face-on before I could tell it was her.

Of course, there are huge physical and psychological changes that also occur through a lifetime, beginning with drastic seasonal fur changes. On a longer time scale in the physical realm, old age will bring loss of hearing, difficulty with vision, arthritis, and more. In other words, life will become more difficult if it hasn’t already. I’ve seen a number of coyotes live to be 12 years old here in San Francisco.

Psychological changes also occur as new and different situations are confronted and dealt with throughout a coyote’s life: Coyotes, as we, are constantly learning and becoming wiser as they age.

One thing I’ve notice the most about aging coyotes is that they are less out in the open, less visible, the same as after injuries earlier in life. I imagine it’s because they feel more vulnerable and are less willing to take the risks they took earlier in life. One of the big risks of being visible is dogs chasing them.

9 years old (March, 2022)
7½ years old
almost 6 years old
5 years old
3 years old
Two years
7 months old
2½ months old

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MelindaH
    Mar 25, 2022 @ 17:30:26

    O that humans DID get wiser with age. I’ve fallen in love with yet another of your “family.”

    Reply

    • yipps:janetkessler
      Mar 25, 2022 @ 18:54:22

      Yes, you are right: SOME humans get wiser with age. I wonder if this applies also to coyotes? Well, Chert indeed is wiser, as was my mother and grandmother. :))

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