The Coyote (Canis latrans) has greyish-brown to yellowish-brown fur on top and whitish fur on its underbelly. It has large triangular ears on the top of its head and a long, narrow muzzle. Coyotes have black noses, yellow eyes, and a long bushy tail. They can run up to 64 km an hour. They have a keen sense of smell & hearing. One way to tell the Coyote apart from wolves and dogs is to watch its tail when it runs – Coyotes run with their tail down, dogs run with their tail up, and wolves run with their tail straight out.
Coyotes are medium-sized dogs weighing 8 – 20 kg, are 1 – 1.5 m long (including the tail), and measure 58 – 66 cm to the shoulder. Comparatively, wolves weigh 25 – 80 kg and a medium-sized domestic dog weighs 9 – 27 kg.
These adaptable animals will eat almost anything. They hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also happily dine on insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion.
Coyotes mate between February and April. The female may mate with more than one male. Two months after mating, the female gives birth to 3 – 10 pups. The average litter size is usually around five to seven. The pups are born blind and with floppy ears. They open their eyes after 14 days. The pups begin to come out of their den when they are about three to four weeks old and are weaned when they are about a month old. Once they are fully weaned, both parents feed the pups regurgitated food. Male pups will leave their mother when they are between six and nine months old while female pups will stay with their mother's pack. Male and female Coyotes pair off and mate together for several years. Their average life span in the wild is up to 14 years.
The Coyote is a very vocal animal. It has a number of vocalizations including barks, growls, yips, whines and howls. It uses a long howl to let other members of the pack know where it is and short barks to warn of danger. When a pack of Coyotes is welcoming a member into the pack the Coyotes yip.
Co-existence means sharing the environment amicably. Peaceful coexistence entails a constant process. At our homes, it means not leaving out food that will entice Coyotes into our yards or our garbage, and not leaving pets unattended. In the parks, it means not threatening Coyotes by allowing dogs to run free in Coyote habitat. By becoming aware of Coyote behaviour and needs, you can become part of the solution to make coexistence work.
For more information about urban Coyotes and how to coexist with them, visit Stanley Park Ecology Society’s Coexisting with Coyotes webpage.