Eye Sore

This young female coyote spent considerable time rubbing and scratching her sore eye with her wrist, possibly even with her dew claw. When her wrist was not up in her eye to relieve the itch or pain, or possibly to dislodge the irritant, you could see that the eye was red, swollen, teared-up and recessed a little. I don’t know what was going on, except that it bothered her. I’ve seen quite a number of eye-injuries or irritations in coyotes, so it must be a fairly common malady. They are close to the ground where sticks, brambles, grit and bugs could easily get caught in and become lodged in their eyes. Coyotes are particularly dependent on their binocular vision for hunting, so it was important for her to take care of her afflicted eye.

We all tend to forget that wildlife has its share of ailments and injuries, not dissimilar to our own, and that even if these don’t incapacitate an animal, they make it that much more difficult to perform their daily living routines, and can serve to shorten their lives.

By the time I saw her on the next day she was no longer tending the eye — the affliction had passed.

 

2015-08-31-4

 

2015-08-31-5

Foxtail Season

fox tail

fox tail

Foxtails tend to go one way: IN. The pointed quills make it very difficult for them to be pulled OUT.

I’ve had quite a time removing these from the soft lining in my boots. They become embedded and without a lot of effort, won’t come out. And they hurt!

Dogs frequently get them embedded in their noses or in the webbing of their toes, and it is only by going to a veterinarian that they can be removed. In fact, I know of a vet that wore a beautiful gold foxtail pendant around her neck. She said it was given to her because these beautiful little foxtails are what she made her living off of: extracting them from pets!

coyotes hunt and rest in foxtails

coyotes hunt and rest in foxtails

Our wild critters don’t have the benefit of a veterinarian who could help them, but I’m sure our coyotes are as affected as often as the rest of us. I’ve seen them attempt to pull things from their paws — probably foxtails, and I got a photo the other day (darn, can’t find it — I’ll add it when I find it) of a foxtail stuck to a coyote’s nose, which is what made me think of creating this posting.

Scratching

She kept scratching and scratching. She’d get up to move on, and then immediately again be on her haunches, scratching.

She kept it up for over 20 minutes, with that leg boing, boinging up and down for that length of time. The scratching has been particularly intense over the last few days. I’m hoping that it’s just a bug that she hasn’t been able to get, or maybe it’s just that there are a lot of them: ticks or fleas.

I don’t know if she’s trying to ease an itch or an irritation. Her coat is extremely thick, which impedes the claws from reaching whatever it is that is bothering her. Shedding has begun and will continue through June, so maybe the scratching is helping to remove some of the loose fur.

My one worry with constant scratching of this sort is the possibility of mange — a killer. Mange results from a mite that buries itself into the skin, causing severe discomfort which the coyote attempts to relieve through such intense scratching that the fur is slowly removed, leaving the skin exposed with lesions. This is a prime killer of coyotes. Apparently all canines, including domestic dogs, carry the mites which are transferred from mother to pups via cuddling during the first few days of life. Most canines live in harmony with their mites — but things could get out of balance when the immune system is compromised or if there are other underlying health issues.

There are no bare patches of skin, so, I’m hoping it’s just fleas or ticks. I’m monitoring this one.

Left Back Leg: New Injury or Old Injury Acting Up?

holding up the back left leg

holding up the back left leg

She’s been limping for several days now. It was barely perceptible at first, and I questioned myself as to if it really was a limp. But now it has gotten worse — a definite limp.

I’ve not yet trained myself to recognize, by the stride, if the injury is in a paw, wrist, knee, hip or shoulder — veterinarians apparently can do this. But even I can tell that it’s the back left leg because she holds it up regularly, not wanting to put her weight on it, and her gait is not smooth.

It doesn’t seem to hamper her ability to move. I still see her climbing steep inclines and rocks — but it might be hampering her speed. And the injury might be the reason she keeps much further away from people and dogs, all the time lately.

I wonder how much it hurts. I know it hurts because she’s holding it up. Pain serves a purpose — it tells her “don’t use this appendage”.

Is this a new injury, or is it an old injury coming back to haunt its victim? Four years ago, this same coyote sustained a severe injury on her hind back left leg after being hit by a car, the same leg she is now holding up. That leg retains large black scars from that incident. Is this that injury acting up, or is it a new injury? No way to know. I’ll keep tabs on it.

Anyway, life is short in the wild. Every injury or disease takes its toll. A coyote can live 14 years in captivity — but what a horrible worthless life that would be. In the wild, the average life expectancy of a coyote is about five years. Do we even know how long coyotes live in the urban wild? Many urban coyotes are killed by cars. In some areas of the country, coyotes are trapped and killed in urban/suburban areas. Most coyotes everywhere endure all sorts of diseases and injuries. Whenever there is an injury, I think about it specifically and globally.

Tick’ed Off

This video is a long one, four and a half minutes. One coyote is removing ticks from the other, and the other is enjoying the exquisite attention and massage, closing its eyes to relish this personal grooming session. The behavior not only serves the purpose of removing unhealthy ticks, it serves to strengthen the social bond between these two. The affection between these two is tremendous.

Ticks

Ticks seem to be out now. My last posting showed a coyote grooming another — it looked as though ticks were being removed. Here is a coyote photo I’ve blown up — the ticks are very visible on the ears. Since we don’t have deer in the city of San Francisco, there is no risk of Lyme Disease. The ticks eventually fall off of coyotes with healthy immune systems. However, I have seen an unhealthy deer which the ticks clung to — it’s entire neck was literally covered with this blood-sucking insect.

Something Is Bothering Me Here

When I saw this coyote, my first impression was that its paw might be hurt: the paw was being held up in a limp fashion. But the coyote then struggled to reach something under her arm in the armpit — that is a hard place to reach. It didn’t take long for the problem to be fixed. The coyote then got up and continued her wanderings. I did not see her return her attention to the armpit.  It was probably just a burr or a bug.

Previous Older Entries