Probably most of the things you know about the coyote come from what you saw on Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner or from his bad reputation in popular culture. However, the coyote actually has some incredible abilities and shares many characteristics with other animals like the wolf, which has a better reputation. So, keep reading to discover many fantastic things about this canine!
Coyotes are canines that came into existence in North America and share many characteristics with their relatives, like the gray wolf and the red wolf. Their characteristics usually vary depending on the place they live. Those that inhabit northern areas, like the United States, are larger than those who inhabit southern areas, like Mexico. Their weight usually goes from 8 to 20 kg, and their length from 1 to 1.35 m.
Their fur also varies depending on the zone and the weather. Those who live in elevated and northern areas tend to have a dark and dense fur. Meanwhile, those who live in warmer areas, like deserted territories, have a lighter fur, with a yellowish brown color and bristly fur.
The coyote originated in North America, but its range has expanded throughout the American continent. Nowadays, the coyote can be found in Canada, Alaska, the United States, Mexico, and Central America.
Coyotes have great adaptation abilities, so they migrated to other places when humans have invaded their natural habitat. They also adapted to live in the city. This means that they can be found in deserts, grasslands, mountains, plains or alps. They can live in warm areas with little vegetation or in colder ones, with a lot of snow.
Another reason why they can adapt to different environments is that they aren’t picky when eating. They consume a white variety of animals and also eat fruits and vegetables. As coyotes are carnivores, fruits and vegetables represent only 10% of their diet.
When hunting alone, they prefer to hunt small and mid-sized animals, like rabbits, rodents, fish, birds, and sheep. When hunting in groups, they hunt bigger animals, like ungulates.
Interesting Facts about the Coyote
1. Its binomial name represents one of its more singular characteristics.
The scientific name of the coyote is “Canis latrans”, which was chosen because it means “barking dog”. This name refers to a singular characteristic of the coyote: vocalization. It is known that coyotes have an impressive vocalization range, with 11 different ones. They have specific purposes of communication which are divided into contact, greeting, and alarm.
Coyotes’ vocalizations gave them the title of the wild mammal that is the most vocal one in North America.
2. They occasionally mate with animals that are their predators.
Coyotes are often the prey of wolves. In areas where wolves and coyotes co-exist, the population of coyotes usually declines dramatically. For example, in the 1940s, coyotes already inhabited Isle Royale, but when wolves arrived there, coyotes were completely exterminated by them.
However, there are occasions in which these two animals mate. This hybridization results in “coywolves”, which are smaller than wolves. There is another very rare hybridization, called “coydog”, which is the result of mating between coyotes and dogs.
3. They suffer from a great number of diseases.
Having such a diverse diet has a downside: diseases and parasites. They are among the animals that carry the most diseases in North America. Some of these diseases and parasites include rabies, oral papillomatosis, sarcoptic mange, canine distemper and hepatitis, and tapeworms.
Coyote pups are the most vulnerable. Most of these diseases are fatal for them if they suffer them when they are less than a month old.
4. They used to have a good reputation.
For Native Americans, the coyote was an intelligent figure. They were rebels that used humor and tricks to go against society. For some Indigenous people in Central America, they had military importance. Warriors were drawn dressed as coyotes honoring their predator skills.
Unfortunately, this conception disappeared after the European colonization. Since then, the coyote has become a symbol of mistrust and cowardice.
5. They are important livestock predators in the United States.
As they are present in many areas and the population is big, coyotes are responsible for the majority of livestock losses in the United States. For example, in 2004 there were 224,000 dead sheep because of predation. In this case, coyotes killed 60.5% of them.
To avoid this, the government has designed strategies to reduce coyotes’ attacks to livestock. It is estimated that almost 100,000 are killed every year. They are shot, poisoned, killed and trapped.
I hope that you enjoyed reading these facts about coyotes. If you want to learn more about other animals, visit animal facts page!