American jackal, Brush wolf, Prairie wolf
Coyotes are medium-sized dog-like animals with small feet, slender legs, a narrow pointed muzzle and erect pointed ears. There are four toes on each foot, with claws and a smaller fifth toe with a dew claw, which does not come into contact with the ground. Its color is reddish, grayish or yellowish brown streaked with black, with paler underparts. There is a black patch at the tip and base of the tail, and on the front of the ankles. The upper parts of the feet, nape, muzzle, backs of the ears, and outer surfaces of the legs are reddish brown or tan.
Coyotes reside in North America, roaming the plains, mountains, forests, and deserts of the continental United States, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and Central America. They are adapting to life urban areas as humans take over more of their habitat and can be commonly seen in big cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
Habits and lifestyle
Coyotes do not form packs as much as wolves do, and they hunt individually, in pairs, or in with a family group, depending on the availability of prey. They are nocturnal but are sometimes seen during daylight. Their dens are made in rocky crevices, caves, logs, or another animal's abandoned den. They usually don't make their own den but will find a badger or a fox's den and enlarge it. It is very vocal animal and its sounds includes barks, yips, growls, whines and howls. A long howl is used to inform other members of the pack of its whereabouts, and short barks are used to warn of danger.
pack, band, rout
Diet and nutrition
Coyotes are carnivorous and 90% of their diet consists of mammals, mostly small mammals, including eastern cottontail rabbits, white-footed mice and thirteen-lined ground squirrels. They sometimes eat snakes, birds, large insects and other big invertebrates. They like fresh meat, but will eat large amounts of carrion. They include plants in their diet, especially during autumn and winter: leaves of white cedar and balsam fir, apples, and strawberry.
Coyotes are monogamous and will stay with their mate for life. Both male and female take care of the pups, with the male bringing food for the female and pups, and helping with protection from predators. They are usually ready to breed at 20 to 22 months, the season being February to March. In spring, females will make dens to prepare for their young. The gestation period is 63 days, after which a litter of 3 to 12 is produced. Within 21 to 28 days, the young start to come out of the den, being fully weaned at 35 days.
pup, cub, whelp
There are no major or even minor threats to coyote populations throughout their range. Adult coyotes do not have predators, although sometimes wolves or cougars will prey upon young pups. Trapping and hunting, disease and accidents, especially due to motor vehicles, are major causes of death.
According to IUCN Red List, coyotes are abundant throughout their range and are increasing in distribution. Their population and range now are likely at an all-time high. Currently coyotes are classified as Least Concern (LC) and their numbers today are increasing.
Coyotes help to control many small mammal populations, including mice and rabbits, which degrade the habitats where they live. They also assist in the control of some agricultural pests, like rodents.
Fun facts for kids
- Coyotes listen out for danger and can detect hunters at a distance of one mile.
- Coyotes walk silently on the tips of their toes to avoid danger.
- Coyotes belong to the canine family. They are know as Canis latrans, or "barking dog".
- Male coyotes will travel for distances of 100 miles looking for food when their home is overpopulated.
- Like dogs, coyotes regulate their temperature by panting heavily.
- Coyote bring live mice to their young, for hunting practice.
- The position and movements of a coyote's ears indicate its mood and rank.
- Coyotes are so clever that they can trick other animals, including birds.