Canis latrans

Author: Nessie O'Neil

Meet the Coyote

Coyote Classification

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Canidae

Genus and Species: Canis latrans

Cool Coyote Facts

Least Concern

18-44 lbs
about two feet at the shoulder

3 years in the wild

13-15 years in captivity

Historically, coyotes tended to live in wolf-free areas where prey animals were numerous. These locations included grasslands and deserts across the United States and Canada. After the wolf was hunted to near extinction, the coyote no longer had any competition and thus expanded its range further across North America and extended into Central America.

These wild dogs are primarily carnivores animals whose diet depends on the prey animals available in a given location. For example, a coyote here in Tennessee might feed on white-tailed deer, groundhogs, opossums, and turkeys. A coyote in Wyoming, however, would have a diet including animals like pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs, and even rattlesnakes!

Coyotes help regulate our ecosystem!

The smaller cousin of the gray and red wolves, the coyote is an important part of the ecosystem across North America. Coyotes are at the top of the food chain, along with animals like wolves, cougars, and bears. While some may see coyotes as pest, the species ensure that animals like deer do not become overpopulated. 

Coyotes use a variety of vocalizations, body language cues to communicate, as well as sent marking. When living in areas free from humans, coyotes are found to hunt both during the day and night. However, in coyote populations located closer to human settlements, their hunting is done mostly at night, dawn, and dusk. 

A coyote’s appearance will vary depending on where the animal makes its home. There are (at least) 19 subspecies of coyote, each having evolved to blend in with the biome where it lives. Additionally, the eastern coyote is generally larger than coyotes found out west, a fact theorized to be caused by interbreeding with Grey Wolves. 


Coyotes as Pets

Sharing your life with a pet coyote can be beautiful chaos or a living nightmare all depending on your expectations. They aren’t an animal that everyone should have, but if you are interested in learning about what it takes to care for and share your life with a pet coyote, you’re in the right place.

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