Here, in Arizona, coyotes roam and hunt in the desert.

Coyote in Arizona desert

While hiking with dogs, I often see spiny bits of Teddy bear cholla cactus on the ground.

Teddy bear cholla cactus patch

Dogs often step on these and get stung by the needles. Trying to remove them from dog paws with hands usually results in hands getting pricked too. A pair of stones, sticks, or tweezers usually works. I imagine letting the dogs chew off the needles would result in having needles in their lips/mouth.

Q: What do coyotes do with stuck cactus needles? Do they remove them, if so how? Do coyotes and perhaps other desert animals have special adaptations for removing/avoiding cactus needles?

  • $\begingroup$ Their paws might be more callous and have more padding for the desert adaptation. Things can still get stuck in their paws but not cause serious issues and can fall off in time because of the adaptations. Wild animals can still be susceptible to splinter infections but it would be rare compared to humans or pets. I found some studies regarding to camels but not specifically for coyotes. $\endgroup$
    – ermanen
    Nov 29, 2021 at 1:30


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