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Interesting Facts about Coyotes

Want to learn some interesting facts about coyotes? We will be talking about their physical description, habitat, howl, offspring, and more!

coyote front view

Physical Description

Coyotes resemble medium-sized dogs. A coyote's coat can be a mix of red, brown, white, black, and tan. The coyote’s fur has black-tipped hairs. The fur is white on the coyote’s chest and belly. Coyotes have large pointy ears, yellow eyes, and long, floppy tails.

Coyotes are smaller than wolves. They weigh between twenty and fifty pounds. They are thirty-two to thirty-seven inches in length. They have sixteen-inch-long tails.


Coyotes are highly adaptable and abundant throughout their range across North America, Central America, and Mexico. Their population ranges from Canada to Panama, passing through the United States and Mexico. Coyotes prefer wide-open areas like prairies and deserts, but they live in a variety of habitats. These habitats include woodlands, mountains, urban areas, and suburban areas.


Coyotes can be active during the day or night. If they share territory with people, they avoid people by being active at night. If there are no people in their territory, coyotes can be active at any time.

coyote pack


Coyotes are social animals and live in family groups called “packs.”  Packs are made up of adult coyotes and their puppies. There is one dominant male and one dominant female that make up the pair that lead the pack. These are the pack's alpha pairs.

The size of a coyote pack is determined by whether its territory includes people.  Coyotes have smaller packs if they live in an area with people. In these areas, the average size of a pack is five adults with up to seven puppies. Pack sizes are bigger in areas that have no human population. In the wild, coyotes travel in larger family packs for protection and to maintain territory. In urban areas, coyotes often hunt alone or in pairs.


A coyote's yip or howl is used to communicate with the other members of its pack. Coyotes howl to call their pack back to a location after hunting. They also howl to announce their territory. Coyote juveniles howl or yip to let their parents know where they are. Coyotes also howl to distract and draw predators away from coyote cubs.

Coyotes have other sounds that include growling, laughing, whining, and barking. Coyotes use these sounds to communicate with their pack, other coyotes, and to warn off predators. 


Coyotes are omnivores and prefer meat. They are also opportunistic predators. They will eat whatever is available in their habitat. A coyote that lives in the wild has a different diet than a coyote that lives in an area with people. A coyote’s diet that lives in the wild includes rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, insects, and fruit. An urban coyote’s diet can include small rodents, fruit, and even domestic cats. The difference in diets shows how coyotes adapt and eat whatever food is available in their habitat.

coyote pup


After they turn a year old, coyotes breed once a year between December and March. Only the alpha female and male of the pack breed. A coyote mother is pregnant for about two months. She gives birth in a den to a litter of four to seven puppies.

Coyote pups are born with closed eyes that open within two weeks. A coyote father will help the mother by bringing food for her and the pups. The father also protects the den.

Coyote pups drink their mom's milk for the first few weeks. They start eating their parents’ regurgitated food when they are three weeks old. They will eat the same food as their parents as they grow. Coyote pups start leaving the den to explore at about a month old. Coyote pups learn to hunt and check territory with their parents as they mature.

Juvenile male coyotes leave their parents at about nine months old. They leave to find their own territory and a female to start a pack with. Juvenile female coyotes remain with their parents and become part of their pack.


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Canidae

Genus: Canis

Species: Canis Latrans


Two million years ago, coyotes evolved in North America from a wolf-like ancestor. They have adapted to thrive in many ecosystems since that time.

coyote pouncing


The coyote plays a prominent role in many Native American indigenous stories. Native Americans have many stories that consider the coyote a “trickster”. The “trickster” character can be smart, wise, funny, or greedy.


Natural predators of both coyote pups and coyote adults include bears, wolves, cougars, and other coyotes. Coyote pups have additional predators such as dogs and eagles.

People are also coyote predators. We hunt or trap coyotes for their fur. Coyotes can also be killed when they attack domestic livestock. Coyote populations continue to thrive because of their ability to adapt.


Coyotes have a good chance of living up to six years in the wild if they survive their first year. In the wild, coyotes can live for twelve years. Coyotes can live up to nineteen years in captivity.

coyote howling

What Sound Does a Coyote Make?

Check out this audio file to hear what sound a coyote makes.

25+ Interesting Facts about Coyotes

  1. A coyote’s coat color varies to reflect its surroundings.
  2. There are 19 recognized species of coyote.
  3. People mistakenly believe there are more coyotes howling than there are.
  4. Coyotes often make a screaming sound when a large predator enters the area.
  5. A group of coyotes is called a “band.”
  6. Coyotes are more active when the moon is full, but they don’t howl because the moon is full.
  7. Coyote partners stay together in their pack and mate for the rest of their lives.
  8. Coyotes don't have a den of their own. A mother coyote only uses a den when she is raising her pups.
  9. When coyotes follow people or prey, it is called “shadowing.”
  10. Coyotes rarely attack humans but may shadow them to protect a den with cubs.
  11. Coyotes do not make good pets.
  12. Some other names for coyotes are “prairie wolf”, “little wolf”, and “American jackal”.
  13. Members of a coyote pack take turns pursuing larger prey such as deer.
  14. Coyotes used to breed with wolves and dogs, but this is no longer the case.
  15. Hunting coyotes does not reduce coyote populations.
  16. Eastern coyotes are bigger than western coyotes.
  17. A “coywolf” is an Eastern coyote that has coyote, wolf, and dog DNA.
  18. The name coyote comes from the Mexican-Spanish word cóyotl, which means “trickster.”
  19. The scientific name for coyotes is “Canis Latrans.”
  20. Coyotes are part of the dog family.
  21. “Coyote's Crazy Smart Science Show” teaches science from an indigenous perspective.
  22. Coyotes and domestic dogs rarely breed in the wild.
  23. People bred domestic dogs and coyotes together. These dogs are called “coydogs.”
  24. White albino coyotes are sometimes called “snow coyotes.”
  25. Coyotes like water, are good swimmers, and can swim up to half a mile.
  26. Coyotes run with their tails down rather than up, as dogs do.
  27. Coyotes are known as “song dogs” because they communicate through 11 different sounds.
  28. Coyotes have good eyesight and excellent hearing.
  29. Using its sense of smell, a coyote can detect prey beneath the snow.

We hope you enjoyed learning all about coyotes! Did you learn anything new? Let us know about any other facts. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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