Coyote (Canis latrans)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Canidae
Size:    Height: 23 to 26 inches (58 to 66 cm)
Weight: 20 to 50 pounds (9.1 to 22.7 kg)
Diet: Small mammals, plants and vegetables  
Distribution: North America
Young:  3 to 9 pups, once per year
Animal Predators:  Wolves, lynxes, cougars, black bears, grizzly bears, golden eagles and domestic dogs
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Pup
Lifespan: 4 years in the wild and 22 years in captivity





Coyotes are about the size of small collie dogs and have a long muzzle, long legs and  long pointed ears. Their fur varies from reddish-brown to yellowish-grey, with a white throat and light undersides. Their long, bushy tail has a black tip, and their eyes are yellow. Coyotes are smaller than grey wolves, but larger than foxes. They have excellent hearing and an acute sense of smell. 



Coyotes were primarily desert and prairie dwellers, but their territories have spread across eastern American over the last 100 years, mainly due to the decrease in population and range of the grey wolf. In western areas, coyotes occupy open plains; in the east, they are found in bushy areas. They have been seen in areas inhabited by humans, near cities and on on the outskirts of farms. 


Feeding Habits

Coyotes are omnivorous and eat small mammals, as well as fruit, plants and vegetables. They also occasionally go after deer, cattle and sheep. Coyotes usually hunt singly but may combine efforts, running relays to tire prey. Coyotes may also rely on American badgers for hunting—while it digs for rodents at one end of a burrow, coyotes wait to pounce on any animals that emerge from an escape hole.



Coyotes mate for life. While the pairs have no permanent homes, coyotes either dig a new den or move into an abandoned badger hole, or a natural hole in a rocky ledge to raise their young. Breeding occurs between January and March, and young males will try to find a mate by howling. Females have a litter of approximately six pups in April or May. While the pups are small and helpless, the male will hunt to feed the young. By six weeks, the pups can leave the den under the watchful eyes of their parents and from eight to 12 weeks, they begin to learn how to hunt. After they are full grown, the pups leave to find their own territories.



One of the most social animals in the wild, coyotes have adapted to a variety of habitats to survive. They can be seen in packs consisting of a male, his female partner and their offspring. The distinct howls and short, sharp yaps of coyotes are often heard in chorus at dawn, dusk, or during the night. Coyotes call to each other to keep the band together, helping reunite them when separated. One call prompts other individuals to join in. Coyotes are nocturnal and will go out to hunt after dusk, returning to their dens before dawn.



Although coyotes are not endangered, they are protected in 12 U.S. states.



Coyote Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US