Average life span in the wild: Up to 14 years
Head and body, 32 to 37 in (81 to 94 cm); Tail, 16 in (41
20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg)
Group name: Pack
Did you know?
Coyotes are very good swimmers. In areas of the northeast
United States, where coyotes have migrated since the 20th
century, the animals have colonized the Elizabeth Islands
The coyote appears often in the tales and traditions of Native
Americansusually as a very savvy and clever beast. Modern
coyotes have displayed their cleverness by adapting to the changing
American landscape. These members of the dog family once lived primarily
in open prairies and deserts, but now roam the continent's forests
and mountains. They have even colonized cities like Los Angeles,
and are now found over most of North America. Coyote populations
are likely at an all-time high.
These adaptable animals will eat almost anything. They hunt
rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also happily
dine on insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion. Because they
sometimes kill lambs, calves, or other livestock, as well as pets,
many ranchers and farmers regard them as destructive pests.
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. In the fall and winter, they form packs for more effective
Coyotes form strong family groups. In spring, females den and
give birth to litters of three to twelve pups. Both parents feed
and protect their young and their territory. The pups are able to
hunt on their own by the following fall.
Coyotes are smaller than wolves and are sometimes called prairie
wolves or brush wolves. They communicate with a distinctive call,
which at night often develops into a raucous canine chorus.