Quick Facts

Species Type

Nonnative

Size

40-50 inches body length; weighs 30-40 pounds

Habitat

Can live a variety of habitats including forests, fields, farmlands and suburban/urban areas

Range

Historically were only found in Western United States, but coyotes have rapidly expanded their range and are now found throughout all of the U.S. and Southern Canada.

Diet

Small mammals, insects, snakes, fruit

Lifespan

10-15 years

Conservation Status

Stable

Appearance

Eastern coyotes are usually gray and can have variations with blonde, reddish or darker gray coloring. Most coyotes have a black tip on their tail and darker fur along their back. The Eastern coyote is a variant of the Western coyote and is larger, averaging 48-60 inches in length and 30-40 pounds in weight.

Feeding

Coyotes eat a wide variety of food sources that are available in the area. They normally feed on small mammals like rabbits, mice and birds, but will also eat deer, sheep, snake, lizards, insects, berries and fruits.

Predators

Wolves and mountain lions are predators of coyotes.

Voice

Coyotes yip, bark and howl to communicate and sometimes they will come together in larger packs while other times they will hunt alone.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Coyotes normally breed in late-February or March and the female will give birth to normally 5-7 pups in the spring. A den is normally made in a field, streambank, hollow log, rock cavity or even abandoned buildings.

The pups are born blind and open their eyes when they are around eight days old. The pups will learn how to hunt from when they are between eight and twelve weeks old. Both the male and female help to take care of the young with the male bringing food and protecting the den from predators. In the wild, coyotes live 10-15 years on average and in captivity can live up to 25 years.

Did You Know?

  • The first coyotes in the eastern part of the U.S. were seen in the mid-to-late 1940’s and they were widespread by the 1970’s. Currently, the eastern coyote is one of 19 subspecies and inhabits all of the east coast.
  • Many studies have collected DNA from the eastern coyote and Stonybrook University found that of 462 coyotes tested, the average genetic breakdown was 64% coyote, 13% gray wolf, 13% eastern wolf, and 10% domestic dog.
  • Dog tracks are often confused with coyote tracks, but coyote tracks are more oval in shape and have light toenail marks. Dog tracks are round, have heavy, deeper toenail marks and the outside toes on a dog track is splayed outward while coyotes point straight ahead.

Sources and Additional Information