Coyote – Carnivora Canidae Canis latrans

Identification & Description:
The coyote is a member of the dog family. In size and shape the coyote is like a medium-sized Collie dog, but its tail is round and bushy and is carried straight out below the level of its back.

Coyotes found in low deserts and valleys weigh about 20 pounds, less than half of their mountain kin, who can weigh up to 50 pounds. Desert Coyotes are light gray or tan with a black tip on the tail.

Coyotes of high elevations have fur that is darker, thicker and longer; the under parts are nearly white, with some specimens having a white tip on the tail. In winter the coats of mountain coyotes become long and silky, and trappers hunt them for their fur.

A grizzled grey or reddish-grey coat with buff underparts, long, rusty or yellowish legs and a bushy tail characterize the coyote. They have arresting, yellow eyes and prominent ears.

• The coyote is related to wolves. It differs in several for the wolf he is almost extinct but the coyote has survived.
• Did you know the coyote is smaller so they do not eat much.
• The coyote has excellent hearing and sense of smell.
• They can detect hunters coming a mile or more away.
• Also they can hear their prey scurrying beneath the snow.
• The female coyotes mate at about 2 years old.
• A new born weighs about 7 to 10 ounces.
• They eat big animals like moose.
• You might hear the eerie howl of a prairie wolf at night. Prairie wolf is another name for coyote. Some people also call it a bush wolf.
• Did you know that female coyotes mate at two years old? Their pregnancy periods lasts 60 to 63 days. They have 5 or 6 babies in each litter.
• Did you know coyotes can run 40 miles per hour?
• Coyotes live in United States, Canada, and Mexico. You would find their homes in places like deserts, mountains, and prairies.
• Coyotes eat rabbits, gophers, mice, prairie dogs, rats, squirrels, antelope, goats, sheep, dead cattle, dead deer, and dead elk.
• They use their keen sense of smell to find their prey. They have to dig to get rodents. They help farmers by catching these rodents.

The coyote was originally native only to the prairies and arid west but as settlers moved across the country, altering the landscape and doing away with wolves, a new niche was opened up to the coyote. They now thrive in the Western Hemisphere from the Pacific to Atlantic Oceans.

The coyote may pair for life and each year up to 19 young are born. Eating almost anything it can chew, coyote is a opportunistic and cunning hunter. Known to run up to 40 mph, they often combine efforts with 1 or 2 others when running their prey. The typical den is a wide mouthed tunnel, terminating in an enlarged nesting area. Predators once included the grizzly and black bears, mountain lions and wolves, but due to their declining populations these are no longer a threat. Since coyote pelts have become increasingly valuable, man is the major enemy.

Coyote Tracks Tracks
The coyote track closely resembles that of a dog or fox although the coyote tends to follow a straight path across open areas where the others will wander or follow aspects of the landscape. The print is a rough oval shape with four toes bearing claw prints. The larger front foot has a much larger pad than the smaller rear foot.

Straddle: 10.5 – 15 cm (4.2 – 6 in)
Stride: 30 – 40 cm (12 – 16 in)
Track: 6.5 cm (2.6 in) long / 5.5 cm (2.2 in) wide

The coyote’s tail is used in threat displays. It becomes bushy and is held horizontally when the Coyote displays aggression.

The coyote’s hearing is very acute and is used for detecting prey and avoiding danger. Movement and position of the ears are used to communicate mood and rank.

The coyote’s sense of smell is highly developed and is used to detect prey and carrion. It is also used to detect the scent left by other coyotes as territorial markers.

The coyote has 5 digits on the forefeet, including the dewclaw (remnants of a 5th digit) and 4 digits on the hindfeet. The coyote is digitigrade meaning it walks with only its toes touching the ground.

Coyote Behavior
One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats.

Alone, in pairs or in packs, coyotes maintain their territories by marking them with urine. They also use calls to defend this territory, as well as for strengthening social bonds and general communication. Coyotes can easily leap an 8 foot fence or wall. They have been spotted climbing over a 14 foot cyclone fence.

Coyote Vital Statics

Weight: 15-45 lbs.

Length with tail: 40-60″

Shoulder Height: 15-20″

Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years

Mating Season: Jan-March

Gestation Period: 58-65 days

No. of Young: 2-12, 6 avg.

Birth Interval: 1 year

Lifespan: 15 years in the wild

Typical diet: Small mammals, insects, reptiles, fruit & carrion

Curious Coyote Facts

Only 5-20% of coyote pups survive their first year.

The coyote can run at almost 40 mph and jump over a 8′ fence.

Coyotes can breed with both domestic dogs and wolves. A dog-coyote mix is called a “coydog.”

The coyote is more likely afraid of you than vice-versa.

Coyotes maintain their territory by marking it with urine.

Although the coyote usually digs its own den, it will sometimes enlarge an old badger hole or perhaps fix up a natural hole in a rocky ledge to suit its own needs. Dens are usually hidden from view, but they are fairly easy to locate because of the trails that lead away from the den. The coyote uses the den to birth its young and to sleep. The coyote does not hibernate.

Coyotes have a good sense of smell, vision and hearing which, coupled with evasiveness, enables them to survive both in the wild and occasionally in the suburban areas of large cities. They are common in most rural areas, but because of their secretive nature, few are seen. Efforts to control or exterminate the Coyote by predator control agents seem to have produced an animal that is extremely alert and wary and well able to maintain itself.

Food & Hunting

A coyote travels over its range and hunts both day and night, running swiftly and catching prey easily. It has a varied diet and seems able to exist on whatever the area offers in the way of food. Coyotes eat meat and fish, either fresh or spoiled, and at times eat fruit and vegetable matter and have even been known to raid melon patches.

Although the coyote has been observed killing sheep, poultry and other livestock, it does not subsist on domestic animals. Food habit studies reveal that its principle diet is composed of mice, rabbits, ground squirrels, other small rodents, insects, even reptiles, and fruits and berries of wild plants.

The coyote is an opportunistic predator that uses a variety of hunting techniques to catch small mammals likes rabbits and squirrels, which comprise the bulk of its diet. Although it hunts alone to catch small prey, it may join with others in hunting larger mammals like young deer or a pony.

The coyote often tracks its prey using its excellent sense of smell, then stalks it for 20-30 minutes before pouncing. It may also take advantage of its stamina to chase its prey over long distances, and then strike when the quarry is exhausted.

In the dry season they may try to dig for water or find a cattle tank to have a drink. They also derive moisture from their diet. Everything they eat has some moisture in it. There are also the Coyote Melons which grow in the desert. To humans, they taste terrible but they provide moisture and coyotes and javelina are about the only animals that eat them.

Urban coyotes do take advantage of swimming pools, dog water dishes, ponds and water hazards at golf courses and other water bearing human artifacts as a source of moisture. However, the majority of coyotes never see people.

The coyote belongs to the family Canidae. It is classified as Canis latrans.

Coyote, common name for a carnivore now widespread in North America and closely related to the wolf (see Dog Family). The coyote has erect, pointed ears; a long snout; and green, wolflike eyes. Its body is 0.75 to 1 m (2.5 to 3.3 ft) long, not including the tail, which is 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) in length. The thick coat and prominent bushy tail have black-tipped guard hairs; the inner fur varies greatly, from the reddish-blond of arid-zone coyotes to the light gray of coyotes in northern forests.

Coyotes are most active at night, when they emit their characteristic sharp barks and prolonged howls; they are also active at dawn and dusk. Usually they hunt singly or in relays with others rather than in packs. They subsist on carrion, birds, large insects, and rodents, and can reach speeds of more than 60 km/h (more than 40 mph) when running down animals such as rabbits. Coyotes also prey on unprotected sheep and occasionally on weakened deer. Females come into heat once a year, from late January to early March; following a two-month gestation period, they bear 2 to 12 pups. The pups are tended by both parents, and by autumn they weigh 9 kg (20 lb) and can fend for themselves. Coyotes probably mate for life.

Coyotes range from Panama to the North Slope of Alaska. By the late 1970s their eastern expansion had reached the Atlantic seaboard, and they are now found in every state except Hawaii. The eastern coyote, which is darker and one-fourth again as large as the western coyote, is considered a subspecies. It has become so abundant that it has appeared in suburban areas of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. To explain this sudden expansion, some specialists have theorized that eastern coyotes were once natives of the region and that they reemerged from remote wilderness areas after the reforestation of the eastern states. Others have theorized that the animals arose from the western coyote, which migrated east, interbred with small wolves, and produced a larger subspecies. Coyotes also breed with feral dogs to produce “coydogs,” which, however, breed at inopportune seasons and soon die out.

Attempts have been made to exterminate coyotes by poisoning and hunting, especially in sheep-farming lands in the southwestern United States, but these efforts have had limited success due to the coyote’s wariness and its ability to retreat and adapt to inhospitable regions. Opponents of these measures argue that without the predation of coyotes, populations of such rodents as jackrabbits quickly swell and consume large amounts of rangeland vegetation intended for sheep.