The coyote is an animal with a bad reputation. Farmers shoot them so that they won't eat their chickens and sheep. Cartoons make fun of them and few enjoy hearing their howl. Learn more about the coyote's habitat and gain some appreciation for this misunderstood creature.
Coyotes are wild dogs. Their Latin name is "canis latrans." They are also known as prairie wolves and brush wolves. Coyotes have fur that can be brown, tan or even black. They usually have full tails.
Coyotes grow to be about 25 pounds. From nose to tail, a mature male coyote may be about 4 feet long and stand 2 feet high. Females are slightly smaller.
Coyotes have a versatile diet. Some people call it "opportunistic." They eat rodents, rabbits, birds, reptile, carrion and insects. They also eat fish they catch, berries, fruits and vegetables. One damage report made about a coyote complained that the animal had eaten some watermelon. Coyotes can run 45 miles per hour, so they are fast enough to catch jack rabbits.
Coyotes mate for life. They hunt in pairs, except when the female is tending puppies in her den. Then, she depends on the male to bring her food. Every year, a coyote has between three and nine puppies that are old enough to live independently of their parents within a few months.
Young coyotes must travel to a territory that does not belong to any other coyotes. Sometimes this means a trip of over 100 miles. Once they locate an area that is undisputed, they mark it by spraying it with urine. Each coyote dominates an area of about 10 to 12 square miles.
Coyotes have proliferated widely throughout North America. People tend to associate them with the western areas of the continent, but they range from the Pacific Ocean to Ohio and Michigan. Recently, some have been trapped as far east as New York. They go as far north as Alaska and as far south as Costa Rica in Central America. Their ability to adapt to a wide variety of natural habitats is probably related to the fact that they can live on almost any kind of food.
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