Natural History of Coyotes
Coyotes are very intelligent animals that have been able to adapt to many different environments. Some live in major cities such as Los Angeles, feeding off human garbage and hunting mice and rats. In fact, the city of Los Angeles is home to about 3000 coyotes who roam the streets at night. They have adapted so well to the urban environment, that few people even know the coyotes are there.
Their tracks average 2Ĺ inches long. The hind print is smaller than the front one. The inner two toes are smaller than the outer two. Coyotes have great stamina. They are good runners and swimmers.
They can eat a wide variety of foods, such as small mammals, eggs, fruit, berries, nuts, rodents, fish, carrion, insects, grains, vegetation, and even human garbage.
Dens are usually located in hollow trees, stumps, rock piles, or in brush. A coyote digs its own den, but will sometimes enlarge the burrow of another animal.
Young coyotes, usually three to nine pups per litter, are born in a den or shallow burrow in April or May. After they are about ten weeks old, the pups begin hunting together. By fall, they can survive on their own. Coyotes hunt both night and day.
Personal Notes on Coyotes
The coyote has a wonderful voice. I remember many nights when I sat up late listening to the coyotes howling at each other. It is a spine-tingling sound. I heard my first coyotes in the Hacienda Heights area of southern California. There were some wild areas in those hills back then. Coyotes and mountain lions hunted for deer and small mammals.
Joshua Tree National Monument (now a National Park) was another of my favorite coyote listening areas when I lived in southern California. Iíd get off work in Los Angeles and drive to Joshua Tree for a weekend of camping and exploring. Fascinating area.Now, Iím up in the redwood country where coyotes are not as common. However, I do hear them occasionally in the Cuneo Creek area of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (Californiaís largest redwood state park and my personal favorite park. Not to mention my first web site.) Sometimes, on a quiet night, the coyotes will begin their song. It always stops me in my tracks. (No pun intended.)
Got a coyote story? E-mail me and tell me about it.
Copyright © 1997. Text and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera