It’s one of the great rivalries of all time. Think Ali vs. Frazier or Army vs. Navy, except here it’s coyote (Canis latrans) vs. opossum (Didelphis virginiana). And it doesn’t play out the way you might think. A recent video from @ibcope625 of the confrontation made the day for the guy who filmed it—a dude in an earth-moving machine—and sent the Instagram world into overdrive.
Here’s how it went down. The guy is rolling along in his tracked vehicle when he sees an opossum scurrying along beside him. As if on cue, a coyote zeroes in on the prey animal. The opossum at first bares its teeth at the predator. It looks like the fight will be over quickly, but that’s not what happens. Realizing its plight, the opossum plays dead. Like, seriously dead.
This, incidentally, is typical opossum behavior. It’s not a “choice” but an involuntary physiological response. And a pretty good one. When an opossum “plays dead” its body goes stiff and curls up. The lips draw back, the teeth are exposed, saliva forms at the mouth, and the eyes close. To seal the deal, it releases a truly nasty smell from its anal glands. (Many politicians can also do this.)
I wouldn’t be particularly tempted to eat a critter in that state and neither is the coyote. After a few steps, it drops the opossum, sniffs at it, ponders the meaning of life for a moment, then straddles and pees on the animal.
The guy driving the earth mover thinks this is the funniest thing he has ever seen and states the obvious. “Coyote pissed all over him!”
The video currently has over 200,000 likes, and a whole bunch of comments explaining the coyote’s motivation:
- @grey-renae thinks that the two species are friends and “remove ticks off eachother.” The coyote peed on the possum to “try to wake the animal from freezing up.” It didn’t work, so the coyote left.
- @low510 supplied the following caption: “Opossum like ‘a win is a win!’”
- @joshthepitbull1 thought that the coyote was performing an act of public service: “So he’s like, well if it’s sick I’ll piss on it, so no other animals will get sick.”
- My favorite entry is provided by @chahat-indian-zombiegras: “It feels the same as pouring out liquor for your dead homie”