If you've checked out YouTube's "Brave Wilderness" channel, you'll already be familiar with this charismatic wildlife expert and adventurer.
Coyote’s videos are full of fascinating insights into some of the most bizarre – and downright dangerous – animals on the planet. When it comes to making the subject come alive, Coyote's more than willing to go the extra mile – up to and including being bitten, quilled or nipped for the camera! Why else would you welcome a sting from the fearsomely named executioner wasp (below)?
His feats have won him a loyal online fanbase, and have seen "Brave Wilderness" become the most-subscribed YouTube channel dedicated to animals, with more than 14.2 million subscribers as of 30 April 2019 – more than double the number of its nearest competitor. Its 2.6 billion-plus views as of the same date also make it YouTube's most-viewed animal channel.
In 2018, we were delighted to have the chance to chat to Coyote and ask him about his inspirations, hopes for the future and what it feels like to be a multiple Guinness World Records title holder.
Find out about more record-breaking animals and conservationists in our records showcase
How did you first become interested in nature and wildlife?
Growing up in Ohio, I'd spend my time exploring the wild areas behind my home. Forests, creeks, swamps and a hidden lake add up to an endless opportunity for adventure! My number-one animal infatuation was the common snapping turtle. Even to this day, my favourite thing to do when I am not on the road working is to head out to any body of water to search for these prehistoric-looking reptiles.
Who has inspired you?
Regarding animals, adventure and film-making, my top three inspirations are Steve Irwin, Bear Grylls and Steven Spielberg.
Is YouTube changing the way people engage with nature?
Oh, yes. There's such creative freedom and it reaches such a wide audience. Via YouTube, we've been able to bring an important message about conservation and education to a whole new generation of future explorers.
How did pain become a USP of Brave Wilderness?
Episodes featuring bites and stings have played a big part in the channel's speedy growth, but pain wasn't part of our initial design! It began with me being quilled by a porcupine (see below) – we wanted to show how to remove quills in the right way.
From there, it was snapping turtle bites, alligator bites, insect stings and all kinds of craziness. To be honest, the pain part was a bit of a drag. But once the episodes were released and millions of people were watching – and most importantly learning about these bizarre creatures – it was worth the agony.
"Wow factor" content is gripping, but it's only about 10% of what makes up Brave Wilderness. So when people show up for the extreme segments, they end up finding a massive catalogue of animal adventure content that is not me rolling around on the ground in pain and seem to love it just the same. Again, our number-one goal has always been to educate, entertain and inspire a love for animals!
Who else is part of the Brave Wilderness team – on and off camera?
In the field, we are made up of myself, Mark Laivins (director/camera operator), Mario Aldecoa (wildlife biologist/camera operator) and often a location specialist who helps with logistics when in environments. In the office, we have an incredible editing team made up of Chris Kost and Ryan Gebrura.
Which animal has given you the most painful sting or bite?
The worst bite – actually a two-clawed pinch – was by the giant desert centipede. That sent me to hospital. Its venom attacks your red blood cells, exploding them from the inside out! My arm swelled up to three times its normal size and the pain was so intense I couldn't sit still.
The worst sting came from the bullet ant [which boasts the record of most painful insect sting]. The pain from its ponera toxin caused hallucinations and intense pain that made me feel as if my arm had been dipped in lava! And the worst part is there is no anti-venom for either of them – you just have to sit it out.
Do you think some animals unfairly get a bad reputation?
Yes! In fact, almost all creepy-crawlies seem to have an unwarranted bad rap. I think this happens because people simply do not understand the role these animals play in the ecosystem. Take spiders, for example. Many people are scared of them no matter how big or small – usually because they have many eyes, furry bodies, eight legs and they crawl on the walls. But spiders have no interest in us – plus, they eat the pesky insects that drive us crazy, such as flies and mosquitoes. I think if you’re afraid of something, it’s a good idea to find out about it so that you understand it better – that usually helps.
How does it feel to hold two Guinness World Records titles?
Amazing! As a kid, I always hoped that one day I would hold a world record… for doing something silly like eating more gummy worms than anyone ever! It’s an incredible honour, and one that we as a team hold very dear.
Do you have any animals at home?
We have a dog named Charlie Bear, seven baby snapping turtles (which we’re looking forward to releasing this spring) and a sulcata tortoise named Green Bean.
What’s the one thing we should be doing to aid wildlife conservation?
It all starts with education. The global population is constantly expanding, but we should remember that Earth belongs to animals as well. There isn't an animal on this planet that couldn't use help. The more you know about a specific animal and its environment, the better. One of the best ways to do that is to get outside and explore. The world is full of adventure and teeming with fascinating species, so be brave, stay wild… and we'll see you on our next YouTube adventure!
Record-breaking human vs record-breaking animals
No doubt about it: Coyote's wildlife encounters make for gripping (and enlightening) viewing. Check out this selection of three tête-à-têtes he has had with superlative animals…
The tarantula hawk is the largest wasp, with a body length of around 6 cm (2.2 in) and a wingspan of 12.1 cm (4.7 in). It’s perhaps better known for its vicious sting, with which it paralyzes tarantulas. But the spiders' problems don’t end there. The wasp keeps its victim alive to provide a fresh source of food for its offspring! Coyote compares the sting to being hit by an electric shock from a taser – and he should know…
Native to northern Australia and New Guinea, cassowaries are the world's most dangerous birds – indeed, a man in Florida, USA, was killed by a cassowary just last month. What makes these relatives of emus and ostriches so formidable are their dagger-like claws, the longest of which can reach up to 12 cm (4.7 in)!
So dangerous is the Gila monster that just 0.4 mg/kg is enough to prove fatal to kill 50% of test animals, making it the most venomous lizard. After this creature bites its prey, glands in its lower jaws produce venom that seeps into the victim. Humans rarely die from the bites, though, as relatively little venom is injected – good news for Coyote, as on one occasion he got a little too close to one for comfort!