Critter Corner - Coyote
DID YOU KNOW:
Three wild members of the dog
family live in our area: the red fox, the secretive
forest-dwelling gray fox and the adaptable coyote. The
scientific name for coyote means dog-barker, referring to its
wide range of yips, howls and barks.
Coyotes are not picky eaters,
but they prefer meat. They play an important role in
controlling wild populations of mice and rabbits, which is their
primary diet. Wild fruits are a favorite treat. They
also consume birds, plants and insects.
Usually five to seven babies
(pups) are born in April or May. Both Mom and Dad raise,
protect and teach the pups. While Dad brings Mom food, she
nurses the tiny helpless pups.
the pups are about 8 weeks old, Mom and Dad regurgitate partly
digested food for the pups to eat. Mom may also tear small
bits of fresh meat to feed the pups. Eventually, the pups
accompany their parents on hunting trips. The family is
affectionate, with lots of grooming and licking and playing.
In the fall, the young are skilled hunters and head out on their
These intelligent creatures
prefer open brushy areas bordered by a
Coyotes can be found in wilderness areas through North America.
The family lives in underground burrows, either dug by
themselves or previously dug by woodchucks, foxes or other
animals. It is a safe place to rest and raise young.
These shy, speedy canines
avoid contact with people and large dogs. They can sprint
short distances at speeds up to 45 miles an hour. Though
their first defense is to stay hidden or run, they can be fierce
fighters. Sharp teeth, strong jaws for biting and strong
legs and claws for kicking all can be used for a successful
defense against an enemy.
No camping trip is
complete without hearing the beautiful, yet strange, howls
of the coyote.
Coyotes that live where
domestic dogs may be nearby have learned to be quiet near
their dens, thus protecting themselves and their young from
To learn more about
(Photo credits: Portrait of
coyote, National Parks Service; Coyote pup, National Parks
Service; Coyote hunting in grasslands, US Geological Survey;
Coyote head, Michigan Department of Natural Resources)