Coyotes are animals which share many traits with their fellow canine brothers dogs and wolves, but coyotes are actually exclusive to North and Central America. They are also known as jackals or prairie wolves, and can be found from Panama all the way up to the southern areas of Alaska. When they are young they will often be cute and attractive, but these predators have actually developed to live alongside humans and even extensive hunting isn’t able to reduce the population of the coyotes.
Appearance And Biology:
The coyote is a canine which has a fairly light colored coat in the majority of cases, and fur can range from gray to brown, yellow and red, as well as having black guard hairs. They have a long nose tipped with a black snout, and have a similar jaw shape to domestic dogs. Coyotes will rarely grow larger than four feet from nose to tail, and can often weigh up to three stone. There are of course exceptional examples that have been documented growing to nearly six feet in length.
Although there is a comparison that is often made with domestic dogs, and in some states coyotes can mate with dogs, there are also some important differences. Coyotes will usually hunt in pairs, and can form a pack of up to six individuals. They also have a much higher range of hearing and have many more sweat glands on their paws.
Behavior And Life Cycle:
Coyotes can occasionally be seen during the daytime hours, but prefer nocturnal behavior because they are often under pressure from human influences. They can dig their own burrows which they will use for sleeping during the day, but they will often prefer to occupy the burrows of other animals more suited to digging such as woodchucks or badgers.
There are very few coyotes that live beyond 10 years of age, and the mortality rate is often quite high. Pressures from humans such as hunting, agriculture and roads can be a big problem for coyotes, leading to more coyotes dying young. Most coyotes will mate in the first two months of the years, and after about two months a litter of pups is born and can be as many as nineteen in very large litters.
Habitat And Diet:
Although coyotes are particularly successful across North America, because wolves are predators that hunt coyotes any areas without wolves are particularly successful areas for coyotes. The coyote is very adaptable, and can live from the deserts and prairies of southern states up to the cold mountainous areas of the northern states and Canada.
For the most of the time coyotes will feed on small animals such as squirrels, mice and voles, but if the opportunity rises they will eat almost any meat. Coyotes are not averse to eating carcasses left by other hunters, and are known to look for the nests of any bird that builds their nest on the ground. There is also evidence to suggest that if there is larger prey such as deer available then they will hunt as a pack. In the autumn and winter when prey is more difficult to catch, coyotes can also turn to eating plants and are willing to scavenge among human waste.
The coyote may look like a common domesticated dog, but the nature of the animal is very different. They have been very successful in spreading across north and Central America with the spread of human habitation. Many people will see coyotes as a pest that needs to be destroyed, but others will accept that they are a part of life and are happy to live alongside them.
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