Coyote, or, or Prairie Wolf, a doglike mammal. The coyote inhabits most areas of North America. It is gray or reddish-gray with light yellow or white legs, feet, ears, throat, and chest. The tail is bushy with a black tip. The coyote grows to two feet (60 cm) tall and weighs 20 to 40 pounds (9 to 18 kg). It is a very fast runner and has keen vision and an excellent sense of smell. Coyotes live in burrows or dens in the ground. Five to ten pups are born in the spring. A distinctive feature of the coyote is its mournful howl.

The coyoteThe coyote has keen vision and an excellent sense of smell.

A coyote's diet consists mainly of small rodents, insects, fruit, carrion, and fish. Coyotes will attack livestock when other prey is scarce. Livestock can be protected by electric fences and guard dogs; coyotes are eradicated by being poisoned, shot, or trapped.

Do Coyotes Compete with Wolves?

Yes, they do! And coyotes have been more successful than wolves. The reason is that coyotes adapt better than wolves. Unlike wolves, coyotes can live almost anywhere. They thrive in grasslands, but they can also live well in forests, on mountains, and in arctic regions.

Coyotes used to live mainly on the plains of western North America. But they expanded into forests as their biggest rival, the wolf, disappeared from those areas. With no wolves to compete with, coyotes grew and grew in number. Today, coyotes are found all the way from Alaska to Central America.

Another reason coyotes are so successful is that they eat almost anything. Their prey include rabbits, gophers, mice, squirrels, prairie dogs, reptiles, and insects. Coyotes also eat carrion, or the remains of dead animals. Coyotes eat fruit and seeds, too, and they love watermelon.

How Do Coyotes Hunt?

Unlike wolves, most coyotes live alone or in pairs. But they sometimes do form packs to hunt. In a pack, coyotes can attack large prey, such as antelope and deer. A pack of coyotes may have from three to eight members. After the hunt, pack members often go their separate ways.

Coyotes are extremely fast runners. In fact, they are among the fastest mammals in North America. Not many animals can outrun a coyote.

Coyotes are also clever. Sometimes they hunt alongside badgers. Badgers are fierce little animals. They are also very good diggers. A badger may watch as a coyote chases a rabbit into a hole. Then the badger digs into the hole and catches the rabbit. Both the badger and the coyote share the kill.

The coyote is Canis latrans of the family Canidae.