Found all across the North American continent as well as in Central America, the coyote is a clever and opportunistic omnivore. Even in large cities, the coyote has established large populations.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Suborder - Caniformia
Family - Canidae
Genus - Canis
Species - C. latrans
Common Names - Coyote, Brush Wolf, Prairie Wolf, American Jackal
Coyotes are closely related to the domestic dog, and their appearance is quite dog-like. They are usually gray, tan, or brown with black tips on their hairs. Coyotes that live in colder areas and higher elevations tend to have longer and thicker coats than those that live in hotter areas. They are usually about 15 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder and are about 40 to 60 inches long. They usually weigh between 22 and 42 pounds. Coyotes have long, bushy tails, pointed furry ears, and long narrow snouts.
While a coyote female can give birth at one year of age, she will continue growing all throughout her second year of life. In late winter or early spring, the female coyote will come into heat and mate with a male coyote. She will be pregnant for 58 to 63 days. Pups are born in late spring or early summer, usually underground in a den. Most litters are of four to nine pups, although litters of up to 19 pups have been recorded. Both the male and female care for the young until they are old enough to care for themselves. Usually by fall, the family breaks up, the individual members going their separate ways.
Coyotes may live alone, in pairs, or in large packs. Coyotes have keen senses of smell, vision, and hearing, making them excellent hunters. They will eat almost anything, from carrion, rabbits, rodents, and frogs to fruit and grasses. They sometimes will hunt young livestock, so farmers and ranchers often consider coyotes to be destructive pests. Coyotes often use dens that were created by badgers or other digging animals. Their lives center on their main den area, and they will mark their territory around it. If the area is threatened, mother coyotes will move the pups to a safer area.
At one time, coyotes were limited to the Great Plains area of North America and northern and central Mexico. After the arrival of European settlers and the removal of wolves as main predators in other areas, coyotes expanded their domains to almost all of the North American continent.
As humans continue to modify the habitats of most animals, coyotes continue to spread. They are common both in rural and urban areas. Coyotes are not considered threatened.