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Species Description

Coyote

Canis latrans


Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

Description

The fur is buff or gray, with long, black-tipped hairs on the back and sides, and whitish, cream, or pale gray with yellowish tint on the belly. The face is can be gray or reddish brown. Coyotes range in size from 1 - 1.3 m (3.3 - 4.3 ft) in total length and weigh 9 - 16 kg (19.8 - 35.3 lbs). Coyotes have long legs and muzzles, a bushy tail, and long, pointed ears.

Life Cycle

Most breeding takes place in February and March between a bonded pair, which remain together until the pups are reared. Females give birth to 4 - 7 pups a little over two months after mating. Pups are born in a den located in hollow logs, abandoned mammal burrows along brush-covered slopes, steep banks, and thickets, or under rock ledges and crevices. Pups nurse for the first 2 weeks after birth, and are attended by both parents. Parents begin to supplement nursing by regurgitating partly digested food. The pups begin to eat solid foods by 4 weeks of age, and are weaned by the time they are 5 - 7 weeks old. The den is abandoned by June or July and pups usually disperse from the family unit by November or December. Pups reach adult size by 9 months of age and are sexually mature by one year of age.

Natural History

The Coyote is a nocturnal animal and is most active in early evening and again before dawn, but one is occasionally seen during daylight hours. It inhabits grasslands, forest edges, brushy areas, and upland and bottomland forests. Its diet is quite variable, but approximately 90 % of the diet consists of rodents, rabbits, and squirrels. In winter it may scavenge carrion. It will also eat insects, fruits, berries, seeds, and grasses in the warm months. Rarely do Coyotes attack healthy adult deer and then only in pairs. Coyotes will occasionally feed on domestic poultry and livestock. Coyotes live singly, in pairs, or form loose-knit packs of non-breeding animals. The Coyotes is perhaps best known to the public by its high-pitched howls. Howling and barking are used to communicate the position or hunting success of an individual or to reinforce the social bonds of a pack. Estimates of home ranges for adult males vary from 20.7 - 41.4 km (8 - 16 mi) and for females from 7.8 - 9.6 km (3 - 3.7 mi). The average life span of wild coyotes is 6 - 8 years, but some have lived up to 19 years in captivity.

Range

Coyote Region Map Coyotes are found throughout Georgia. This species has expanded its geographic range within the last 100 years into most of the southeastern United States. This expansion has been made possible by clearing land for agriculture and by timber harvesting. Coyotes now occur almost anywhere in the United States and Canada as well as south into Central America.

Conservation Status

Coyotes have been poisoned, hunted, or trapped for over a century and are considered vermin in many states. There is no closed season for hunting or trapping coyotes in Georgia.

Similar Species

The Red Fox and the Gray Fox are both smaller in size and hold their tail out parallel to the ground when running. The Coyote holds its tail down when running.