Coyote (Canis latrans)
- The Coyote is very similar in size to a small German Shepherd and weighs an average of 25 to 40 pounds. It has long, slender legs, a bushy tail with a black tip, and large ears that are held erect. The Coyote's coat can vary, but it is usually gray or buff-colored. From a close vantage point, there is no mistaking the yellow eyes and black, round pupils. The Coyote is a strong swimmer. It characteristically runs with its tail down instead of horizontally like foxes, or up like wolves and dogs.
- Life History
- The Coyote is an extremely intelligent animal with keen senses of hearing, sight and smell. It primarily is nocturnal and very opportunistic. Coyotes will eat just about anything. They feed primarily on rabbits, rodents and insects, but they also eat carrion, lizards, snakes, fruit, vegetable matter and even fish. This adaptability also is evident in their use of cover. The Coyote requires minimal shelter to survive, but it will use a den for the birth and care of its young. Coyotes usually prefer to take use an abandoned badger den or natural cavities rather than dig their own den; however, they will make the necessary renovations by excavating multiple escape tunnels linked to the surface.
Coyotes are considered monogamous, with pairs remaining together for several years, although not necessarily for life. They breed from mid-January to early March. After a gestation period of 63 to 65 days, a litter of five to seven pups is born. During the weeks following the birth, the male will bring food to the family, but the female will not allow him inside the den. Coyotes normally may live from 10 to 12 years.
- The adaptability of the Coyote and its acute sense of survival make it difficult to identify preferred habitat, although they most typically are associated with open plains in the West and brushy areas in the East. Their opportunistic nature has provided them the full advantage of surviving in a rapidly changing environment.
- Coyotes have an extensive range across the United States. They have slowly filled the void left by the declining population of wolves throughout the country. In Texas, they range throughout the state.