THE COYOTE - Canis latrans

Ranging from the frozen wastes of Alaska and as far south as Costa Rica, the coyote has demonstrated a remarkable adaptability to its habitat.

It is however, most at home in open grassland and thinly wooded bush country.

The coyote is territorial within its chosen habitat, but live more of a nomadic lie in less favourable areas.

It marks out its territory with urine and declares its residence with a variety of loud calls including the familiar chilling howl.

In some areas the coyote moves into the hills during the summer and then returns to the valleys in the winter

What do coyotes eat?

The coyote hunts mainly under the cover of darkness, and is actually a surprisingly cooperative predator, able to improvise its hunting techniques to suit the prey species and conditions available to it.

The coyote is almost exclusively carnivorous, with jack rabbits, ground squirrels and other small rodents comprising over 90% of its diet.

However, these adaptable animals will eat almost anything, happily dining on fish, frogs, insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion.

Because they sometimes kill lambs, calves, other small livestock - as well as pets - many ranchers and farmers regard them as destructive pests.

Much like a fox, it stalks prey the suddenly pounces on it. The coyote will also tackle larger prey animals such as deer or moose.

However, this larger prey will require a team effort of about six coyotes. The coyote work together in a similar way to wolves by picking out, worrying, and then running down their prey.

Far less stable than wolf packs, coyote packs are usually made up of a breeding pair and their young, which - for whatever reason - have not left their parents territory.

The coyote can feed on dead animals as well as live prey. In some areas, as much as half the coyote’s diet can be made up of carrion, such as cattle and sheep.


The coyote generally mates for life, but as its life is typically short, a longer-lived individual will usually have more than one partner during its lifetime.

During the breeding season, the female comes on heat for about 10 days.

Once mated, she will seek out a secluded denning site. Depending on the terrain, this may be in a specially prepared burrow dug by the pair, or one stolen from a fox or a badger and enlarged.

A den may also be made in a small cave, on a rock ledge, or within a dense thicket in scrubby terrain.

The pups are born after a two month gestation period and are nursed for up to seven weeks. They grow quickly and begin to eat solid food, caught and regurgitated by the parents, from about three weeks of age.

The young are fully grown when about nine months old and may breed in their first year, although a good number do not pair up until their second year.

They often disperse widely from their parents’ territory, moving up to 150 km before establishing territories from their own.

Where food is particularly plentiful, the young may well remain with their parents for a while and hunt in a pack.

Such packs seldom last long, however as the coyote’s early maturity soon leads to tension and fierce competition between individuals.

Coyote facts 

1. Although the coyote’s name sounds Spanish, it comes in fact from coyotl, the ancient word for this species.

2. As well as its distinctive high-pitched howl, the coyote makes at least ten other, quite different sounds which it uses to communicate.

3. The coyote is also known as the ‘praire’ or ‘brush’ wolf.

4. The coyote is reputed to have a strange relationship with the American badger. It apparently leads the badger to the burrows of ground squirrels and other rodents which it sniffs out. The badger digs open the burrow and the pair seem to share the prey.

5. Coyotes are formidable in the field where they enjoy keen vision and a strong sense of smell. They can run up to 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour.

6. The most common enemy that coyotes face is disease. Bears, wolves and mountain lions will also prey upon coyotes.

7. In the wild, coyotes live between 10-14 years. In captivity they are known to live much longer, as many as 20 years.

8. A coyote usually weighs between 15 to 25 pounds. They stand about 25 inches tall and are 4 feet in length.

For more information click onto:

No comments: