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Animal Facts

(Canis Latrans)


Coyote (Canis Latrans)

A member of the dog family (canids) which includes wolves, dogs and foxes. Adult coyotes are 40 to 52 inches (101 to 132cm) long and weigh between 20  to 35 pounds (9 to 16kg). They have a black-tipped bushy tail and their coats can vary from light or reddish grey to a buff colour. They have pointed, erect ears and yellow eyes.

Coyotes are the best runners of all the canids. They have long strong legs and 4 well padded toes with non retractable claws. They can travel great distances, at speeds up to 30 miles an hour (48km).

They have 42 teeth in a strong jaw, which are perfect for holding and biting prey. Their senses of smell, sight and hearing are exceptional which makes them very cunning hunters.


Coyotes are found in Eastern Alaska, Western Canada, most of the Western United States of America and Central America. They are very adaptable and live in the desert, forests, mountains, on plains and in tropical areas. When they sleep they curl up in any protected spot they can find, often without much shelter.


Coyotes are carnivores (meat eaters). They hunt for rabbits, deer, elk, birds, snakes, lizards, fish, sheep, young calves and any carrion they find - but they also eat some fruits and grasses. When they are near humans they eat the rats and mice that feed off rubbish dumps. Because they can adapt so easily to their surroundings and the different seasons, they have more chance of finding something to eat and are able to survive.

 Habits and Biology:

Coyotes reproduce once a year in January to February. Before her babies are born, a coyote mother looks for a den that has been left by other animals and moves in to it for protection. After a gestation period of 60 to 65 days, between 5 and 8 pups are born, depending on how old the mother is and how much food is available. The pups begin hunting after 8 to 10 weeks and they stay with their family for up to two years before wandering off by themselves.

Single coyotes travel up to 400 miles (643km), while mated pairs stay together within an area of 5 - 10 square miles (8 - 16 km). Each pair marks the boundaries of their territory with urine and droppings and won't allow other pairs to enter. Single coyotes can pass through.

Family members howl and yelp to communicate with each other, and to let any neighbours know they are there. All coyotes are most active at dawn, dusk and during the night. Because they are good hunters and can adapt to different habitats and seasons they can usually find food easily. They are also cunning enough to survive being hunted by humans who set traps and put out poison for them.

The coyote is an important spiritual symbol for many indigenous tribes. He is seen both as a trickster causing trouble and as a provider of many good things for this world. Both sides of Coyote are true.

Perhaps we can learn from his adaptability and cunning and from the way in which coyote families and individuals deal with each other.

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