Coyotes are perhaps the most adaptable members of the dog family. Coyotes are native to North and Central America. They live in the treeless tundra regions of Canada and Alaska. They live in the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. They live in the humid forests of Panama. Increasingly, coyotes have made their homes in farmland, and suburban and urban areas–living very close to humans.
Coyotes are larger than foxes and smaller than wolves in size. Coyotes stand about 14 to 26 inches (35-66 cm) tall at the shoulder. They are about 27 to 37 inches (70-94 cm) long, and they weigh between 20 and 35 pounds (9-16 kg). Coyotes have grizzled red and gray coats with a black line running along their backs.
Coyotes are primarily nocturnal. They are most active around dawn and dusk, but they sometimes hunt during the day. Coyotes eat small mammals such as rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice. They occasionally eat birds and reptiles. A coyote is a rapid sprinter; it can reach speeds up to 40 miles per hour (64 kph) when chasing a jackrabbit or other prey.
When hunting small prey, the coyote will move slowly, watching and listening for its prey. When it locates the prey, it leaps almost vertically into the air and brings its front paws down onto the animal, pinning it to the ground before killing it with a bite. Coyotes are usually solitary hunters, but when large animals such as deer or mountain sheep are common, they will hunt in packs.
Coyotes live alone, in pairs, or in small family groups. Coyotes spend the day in an underground den. They may dig their own den or more often enlarge the den abandoned by a ground squirrel or badger. it is common for a male and female coyote to pair up for several years. Mating occurs in late winter and a litter of about six pups is born two months later in a secure den. Both parents nourish their young with regurgitated food.
Coyotes are territorial. They mark bushes and trees in their home range with urine and feces. They assert their claim to a territory with frequent loud yips and howls.
The lifespan of coyote is 10 to 14 years. The scientific name of the coyote is Canis latrans.
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