You might assume badgers wouldn’t want to hang around with animals which might eat them.
But these beloved beasties enjoy feasting on other creature’s flesh and are often seen hunting with an unlikely ally.
The American badger is particularly bloodthirsty and eats snakes, skunks, lizards, squirrels and anything else unlucky enough to cross its path.
These voracious carnivores are often known to join forces with coyotes and are often seen hunting together.
Native Americans have known about the unexpected alliance for a long time and discussed it in stories told since time immemorial.
Now we’ve got modern proof of this animal friendship thanks to a video which shows a badger and coyote playing together.
The footage was captured in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains of California and is believed to be the first film which confirms the animal’s warm relationship.
In the clip, the pair are seen travelling together through a small human-built tunnel called a culvert.
The coyote enters the culvert first and appears to wait for his friend, before they both run off down the tunnel and onwards to adventure.
Matt Dolkas of the conservation group POST wrote: ‘It’s not uncommon for badgers and coyotes to hunt together. ‘When they work together this way, it’s a little easier for them to catch their next meals, prey species like ground squirrels. But to see them moving through a small tunnel (or culvert) like this while playing is pretty surprising.
‘This video was captured recently as part of our research to better understand how wildlife move across the southern Santa Cruz Mountains. We have more than 50-remote sensor cameras helping us capture scenes like this, which we use to inform our land conservation work.
‘While badgers have been seen on occasion during our research, they are one of the more rare species for us to capture on camera. Since they prefer to spend most of their time underground, we don’t get a glimpse of them all that often. So, seeing one with a coyote moving through a small space like this is unusual.
‘It’s a real treat when we get videos like this that show some personality and remind us of the relationships between wild animals and how playful they can be.’
In 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service released pictures of a badger hunting alongside a coyote on a prairie surrounding the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in Colorado.
It said the animals were ‘in an open relationship’.
We assume this does mean the pair were having sex – a question the US Fish and Wildlife Service did not answer in its article.
It is, rather, a racy term to illustrates how the animals sometimes hunt together, but also work alone.
‘Coyotes and badgers are known to hunt together and can even be more successful hunting prairie dogs and ground-squirrels when they work in tandem,’ it wrote.
‘Studies have shown that this unusual relationship is beneficial for both species. The coyote can chase down prey if it runs and the badger can dig after prey if it heads underground into its burrow systems.
‘Each partner in this unlikely duo brings a skill the other one lacks. Together they are both faster and better diggers than the burrowing rodents they hunt.
‘These partnerships tend to emerge during the warmer months. In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow. It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.
‘Coyotes and badgers have a sort of open relationship. They will sometimes hunt together, but they also often hunt on their own.
‘Each species is a treat to see, but together is even more fascinating and special!’