This coyote seemed less like a wild animal and more like a playful puppy after discovering an old dog toy.
Pamela Underhill Karaz captured the canine in these photographs after he wandered into her rural New York backyard and encountered one of her dog’s toys.
The coyote grabbed the plush dog toy, and playtime began. As Karaz snapped away, the coyote tossed the toy up in the air and excitedly jumped around with it clenched in his jaws. He continued this for about five to ten minutes.
He seemed so satisfied with his new toy, he was unwilling to share it with his domestic cousins. After playing with the toy in the backyard, he claimed the new plaything for his own and trotted off into the woods. Since Karaz had seen dog toys disappear before, she suspects the coyote might be a serial toy bandit.
The behavior seems out of character, but wildlife experts say plenty of animals exhibit signs of play. In species like wolves and coyotes, play is considered a vital learning tool. It allows young animals to practice the skills needed to fight or understand social structure. Like humans, some animals continue youthful play into adulthood.
Animals, like humans, may seem constantly busy with the hunt for food, shelter, and a mate. As these photographs prove, even they can take the time to have some fun once in a while.
All photos: Pamela Underhill Karaz