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Fun Facts About Coyotes

Coyote wearing VHF collar in Steuben County.
Credit: Scott Smith

The coyote is a clever animal that has adapted well to growing human populations and habitat loss. Coyotes, also known as the American jackal, are members of the canine family. They can be found all over North America and have even adapted to living in metropolitan cities. Their distinctive howling call can be heard in many places with several animals joining in at once.

Coyotes have greyish-brown to reddish-brown fur. They are typically 32 to 37 in (81 to 94 cm) long and weigh 20 to 50 lbs (9 to 23 kg). The omnivorous predator has a varied diet hunting for rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also eat fruit, grass and even carrion.

Coyotes hunt and stay in tight-knit packs. Both males and females take care of the young. Despite being hunted as a destructive pest, the coyote population has grown rapidly even with human encroachment on their territory.

Other facts about coyotes

Coyote at water tank
A coyote drinks from a BLM water tank in Colorado.
Credit: Bureau of Land Management Colorado

Coyotes are excellent swimmers. They have been able to colonize islands and escape from predators by swimming.

The scientific name of a coyote is “Canis latrans” which means “barking dog.”

Coyotes can breed with both domestic dogs and wolves. A dog-coyote mix is called a "coydog."

In order to not get attacked by predators, coyotes often walk on their toes to make as little noise as possible.

The animals have a very keen sense of smell. They can even detect prey scurrying under snow.

In addition to howling, coyotes will yip, bark or yelp in a variety of ways to communicate.

The coyote is a popular animal in Native American mythology usually seen as a cunning and clever trickster.

Coyotes can be very cunning. One coyote might jump around to distract some prey, while another coyote sneaks up and pounces on the animals.

Other resources:

National Geographic- Coyote

San Diego Zoo - Coyote

National Geographic Kids - Coyote

Smithsonian National Zoo - Coyote

PBS Nature - Coyote

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