Extremely smart, coyotes are a species of animals that are often looked upon as pet material. They have heightened sense of sight, smell and hearing.
In this article on coyote facts, we are going to learn almost everything about these amazing animals. We are pretty sure that you will admire these facts if you have to be an animal lover or if you are looking forward to take in a coyote as a pet.
So, let us begin with our facts sheet. You ready? Of course, you are!
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: Scientific Classification
|Biological Name||Canis latrans|
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: Subspecies of Coyote
There in total 19 subspecies of coyote. They are:
Canis latrans cagottis (Mexican coyote)
Canis latrans clepticus (San Pedro Martir coyote)
Canis latrans goldmani (Belize coyote)
Canis latrans hondurensis (Honduras coyote)
Canis latrans dickeyi (Salvador coyote)
Canis latrans frustror (southeastern coyote)
Canis latrans impavidus (Durango coyote)
Canis latrans incolatus (northern coyote)
Canis latrans lestes (mountain coyote)
Canis latrans mearnsi (Mearns coyote)
Canis latrans jamesi (Tiburón coyote)
Canis latrans latrans (plains coyote)
Canis latrans microdon (Lower Rio Grande coyote)
Canis latrans ochropus (California valley coyote)
Canis latrans thamnos (northeastern coyote)
Canis latrans umpquensis (northwest coast coyote)
Canis latrans peninsulae (peninsula coyote)
Canis latrans texensis (Texas plains coyote)
Canis latrans vigilis (Colima coyote)
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 1-5 | Names and Relatives
1. The coyote belongs to the canine family (the family in which dogs belong to).
2. It goes by two other names – the Brush Wolf and the Prairie Wolf. Zoologists often call it as ‘American Jackal.’
4. Gray wolf is a close relative of the coyote. Coyote is slightly smaller than the red wolf and the eastern wolf.
5. Compared to foxes, coyotes are larger in size.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 6-10 | Evolution
6. Richard H. Tedford and Xiaoming Wang (who are considered as foremost authorities in the study of evolution of carnivores) suggested that Canis latrans came into existence some 1 million years ago during early Pleistocene.
7. Before Canis latrans came into existence, there was Canis lepophagus that came into existence some 5 million years ago (that is, by Pliocene).
8. Before Canis lepophagus there was Eucyon davisi that appeared during the Miocene some 6 million years ago.
9. Compared to modern coyote, the Canis lepophagus had a slender skeleton and skull.
10. Canis lepophagus however had similar weight to modern coyote or Canis latrans but had comparatively shorter limb bones, which means that Canis lepophagus were notreally adapted for running (that is, cursorial lifestyle).
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 11-15 | Written Reference
11. The earliest written reference of coyotes is found in Plantas y Animales de la Nueva España written by naturalist Francisco Hernández’s in 1651. He described the coyote as ‘jackal’ or ‘Spanish fox’.
12. The term ‘coyote’ finds its first published usage in Historia de México written by Francisco Javier Clavijero in 1780.
13. The first usage in English came in 1824 from Six months’ residence and travels in Mexico written by William Bullock. He used various terms like cocyotie and cayjotte.
14. The spelling that we use today, that is ‘coyote’ was standardized by 1880’s.
15. The literal meaning of the scientific name Canis latrans means ‘barking dogs.’
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 16-20 | Measurements
16. Male coyotes are larger than female coyotes in general. Usually, the average weight of male coyotes ranges between 8 kgs to 20 kgs or 18 lbs. to 44 lbs.
17. On the contrary, the average weight of female coyotes ranges between 7 kg to 18 kg or 15 lbs. to 40 lbs.
18. Geographically speaking, different subspecies have different sizes. For instance, the northern subspecies have an average weight of 18 kilograms while the southern subspecies found in Mexico have an average weight of 11.5 kilograms.
19. When it comes to body and tail length, males are again larger than females. The average body length of coyotes range between 3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 5 in.
20. The average tail length of coyotes is 16 inches or 40 centimeters.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 21-25 | Fur and Color
21. The texture and color of the fur of coyotes vary geographically. When it comes to hair color, the fur is predominantly light gray.
22. Fulvous or red color along with black and white is scattered around the body.
23. Those coyotes that live in desert areas have more of whitish-gray or fulvous fur while the counterparts living at higher elevations have fur with more gray and black shades.
24. Coyotes have underfur which is soft and short. On top of the underfur are the guard hairs which are coarse and long.
25. Norther subspecies have denser and longer fur compared to southern subspecies. The Central American and the Mexican coyotes have more bristly fur.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 26-30 | Other Physical Appearances
26. Adult coyotes in general have a stable color of coat. Their neonatal coat color is dark and they have a bushy tail.
27. They have a facial mask which is white and they also have supracaudal gland, which is active.
28. It is not that you do not get albino coyotes but yes, they are extremely rare. Just how rare? Here is a quick fact: Between March 22, 1938 and June 30, 1945, cooperative and federal hunters together killed 750,000 coyotes out of which only 2 were albinos.
29. Compared to the gray wolf, the coyote is smaller but the coyote has longer ears and the braincase is also relatively larger.
30. Compared to the gray wolf however, the muzzle, face and the frame of a coyote is thinner.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 31-35 | More on Physical Appearances
31. Just like the gray wolf, a coyote also has a scent gland that has an identical color as found in a gray wolf.
32. The scent gland of the coyote is smaller compared to that of the gray wolf.
33. In wolf, the color variation of the fur is quite varied. In coyote, the color variation is not that varied.
34. Yet another characteristic that will allow to identify coyote easily is that while running, it will have its tail carried downwards. A wolf on the other hand will keep its tail horizontal while running.
35. Coyotes can be easily distinguished from dogs through their tracks. Coyote tracks are less rounded and more elongated.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 36-40 | Coydogs
36. There is something called ‘coydogs’. Coydogs are basically hybrids between coyotes and domestic dogs.
37. Mating between coyotes and domestic dogs is quite rare in the wild because of one biological reason. The two species of canids have different mating cycles that do not coincide. Also, coyotes are a bit hostile towards dogs.
38. So, hybridization of coyotes and dogs usually happen when coyotes expand their area and do not find members of the same species, leaving dogs as the only alternative for mating.
39. Coydogs in general retain the usual characteristics of the coyotes.
40. Coydogs are fertile. It means that they are capable of reproduction and successful breeding till four generations has been observed in coydogs.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 41-45 | Coydogs – F1 and F2
41. F1 refer to first generation coyote and dog hybrids (that is coydogs). F2 refers to second generation coydogs.
42. F1 coydogs are way more mischievous as pups compared to dogs. They are also very less manageable. When they mature, their trustworthiness is not as great as a mature wolf-dog hybrid.
43. F1 coydogs are somewhere between the dog and the coyote. Variation is less. However, F2 coydogs show a great degree of variation.
44. Both F1 and F2 coydogs have same shyness as well as intrasexual aggression as their coyote parents.
45. There are melanistic coyotes as well. The black coat/pelt in coyotes is a result of a mutation that first happened in domestic dogs.
Did you know, there is a population of white coyotes (nonalbino) that can be found in Newfoundland? They are a result of mutation of melanocortin 1 receptor that they inherited from Golden Retriever dogs.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 46-50 | Coywolves
46. Coywolves are hybrids between coyotes and wolves. Such hybrids are more prevalent in North America.
47. The ‘eastern coyote’ which is usually found in the northeastern part of North America was a result of hybridization of coyotes and wolves. Yes, eastern coyotes are coywolves.
48. The eastern coyote is smaller in size compared to the eastern wolves or gray wolves and they also have smaller territories.
49. Compared to the western coyotes, the eastern coyotes are larger in size and also have larger territories.
50. The female eastern coyote is about 21% bigger than the male western coyote.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 51-55 | What Do They Eat?
51. There was a time when coyotes were thought to be strict carnivores. However, they are in reality, omnivores.
52. Coyotes usually eat small animals like fish, rabbits, rodents and frogs (but not toads). However, they can also go for bigger animals like deer, calves, lambs. They also go for turkeys and other large birds.
53. When coyotes are not really eating bigger prey, they can go for grass, fruits, insects and even snakes.
54. Coyotes are notorious and they are infamous for killing pets and livestock. However, in general they actually help in controlling agricultural pests like rodents.
55. Coyotes that are city-dwellers find food in garbage or even eat put pet foods.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 56-60 | How Do They Hunt?
56. Coyotes use olfaction or sense of smell for hunting. In addition to olfaction, visual cues as well as auditory cues are also extensively used by coyotes for hunting.
57. When the coyotes go out for hunting ungulates (that is large mammals with hooves), they usually do that either in pairs or in small groups. For smaller preys, they are solitary hunters.
58. Unlike wolves that actually attack large prey from the back, coyotes attack right from the front and tear apart the throat and the head of the prey.
59. When it comes to catching mouse-sized rodents, the coyotes pounce on them for catching. For ground squirrels, coyotes will chase and hunt them.
60. Coyotes usually hunt during the day however, recent studies show that they are adapting to nocturnal hunting, most likely to prevent human interaction.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 61-66 | Range of Coyotes
61. Before the cougars and wolves were exterminated, coyotes were found in abundance in grasslands and semiarid areas and desert areas.
62. Coyotes shared their homes in grasslands with elk, pronghorn, bison and various deer, prairie dogs.
63. In semiarid areas, coyotes lived alongside jackrabbits and sagebrush. In desert areas they used live alongside rattlesnakes, kangaroo rats and cactus.
64. If the coyotes were not in direct competition with the wolves, they would be found in Sonoran Desert to the adjoining mountains’ alpine regions or in Alberta’s mountainous regions and plains.
65. The range of coyotes increased with the extermination of wolves and they expanded across United States and much of Canada.
66. Currently coyotes can be found in Alaska in the north to all the way down to Panama in the south. The species has adapted to almost every condition – natural or human altered. For example, they can be found in forests, fields, wetlands, scrublands, golf courses, parks, urban developments and suburban backyards.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 67-71 | Reproduction in Coyotes
67. Coyote families are formed in midwinter (late December through early March) when the female coyotes come in heat or they enter the estrus.
67. Coyotes form pairs (male-female) at least 2-3 months before they actually copulate. While mating, the copulatory tie can last for anywhere between 5 minutes to 45 minutes.
68. The female in heat will attract the males by two methods. They will leave marks with their scent or they will howl with increasing frequency.
69. Up to 7 reproductive males can follow a female in heat for nearly a month. The males will not get into fierce fights but there can be some squabbling.
70. The female will select one reproductive male from the group and the rest will silently leave and go after another female in heat.
71. Coyotes are strictly monogamous and a pair will stick together for years. They exhibit this monogamy even if the population density is high and there is an abundance of food.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 72-76 | Litter
72. The coyote pair that mated will establish a territory. They will either make their own den or they will simply reuse the abandoned dens of other animals like skunks, marmots, badgers, etc.
73. The pregnant female will usually stay in the den while the male partner will go out for hunting and bring back food for the female.
74. The female coyote will have a gestation period of 63 days after which, she will give birth to a litter in early spring.
75. The average litter size is usually 6 but the litter size can be really big (up to 12) if the population density of the coyotes in that place is less.
76. The coyote pups are usually born in hollow trees, dens, under the ledges etc.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 77-81 | Litter Upbringing
77. Coyote pups, when born, weigh around 200 gm to 500 gm or 0.44 lb to 1.10 lb.
79. The pups will develop their incisors, canines and second premolars at the age of 12 days, 16 days and 21 days respectively.
80. By the time the pups are 12 to 15 days old, the parents will start giving small amounts of solid food. The solid food is regurgitated (that is, the parents will bring up the swallowed food to their mouth and feed the babies).
81. The male coyote actively participates in guarding, grooming and feeding the pups. However, if the mother coyote goes missing before completely weaning the pups, the father will also abandon them.
Comprehensive Coyote Facts: 82-86 | Random Facts
82. The primary predators of coyotes are wolves, cougars, bears and humans.
83. The traditions and tales of Native Americans have frequent references to coyotes where they are considered to be clever and savvy beast.
84. Coyotes are known for marking their territory using their urine.
85. The average lifespan of coyotes is 10 to 14 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 20 years.
86. Coyote hunting laws vary from state to state. There are some states where it is always open season for hunting coyotes.