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Canis latrans

Common Name: Coyote
Canis latrans
Canis latrans

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: Canis latrans

Conservation Status

Identifying Features

Coyotes are between 30-40" long and weigh 25-40 lbs on average. Their coat is different shades of grey and brown-red.

Their front tracks are 2 3/8" in a straight line with 4 clawed toes.

They are often heard utilizing howls to communicate with eachother.

Habitat & Range

Historically, coyotes (Canis latrans) evolved and lived in the Western United States. With the eradication of grey wolf (Canis lupus) populations, habitat and prey opportunities opened up for coyotes in the Mid and Eastern US with the disappearance of their largest competitor. Coyote populations expanded and grew, and by the 1920s coyotes spread to New York State.

Eastern coyotes, a coyote subspecies with substantial wolf DNA, live in New York and much of the Northeast today. Studies show that hybridization between wolves and coyotes can occur where their populations overlap, particularly in Southern Canada and near red wolf (Canis rufus) populations in the Southern US. Though wolves and coyotes do not usually interbreed anymore, these lineages can be traced through DNA sampling.

The spread and success of coyotes can also be attributed to their adaptability. Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they eat what is available to them, from rabbits and other small mammals to a variety of plant matter. Occasionally they will take weakened or young deer, but do not typically attack healthy adults. Unlike grey wolves, coyotes can live in habitats close to humans, allowing them to thrive in a constantly changing landscape.


Coyotes communicate with eachother vocally, by scent, and body language.

They eat a wide variety of small mammals, fish, frogs, snakes, fruits, and more.

Life Cycle

February is mating season, and pups are born in the spring. Both parents will raise the young, and pups reature maturity at 9 months old. Young may leave the family group at this time or stay with their parents for another year.

Featured image by Christopher Bruno.


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