Coyote camouflage

This photograph was taken at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Desert Duets: Coyote Info Web Page

Pronunciation Guide: There are three ways to pronounce "coyote:" ky-oh-tee, ky-oat (silent "e"), or koy-oh-tay (the Spanish pronunciation).

Information about Coyotes

Yip! Yap! Bark! Howl! Coyotes like to throw their noses to the sky and howl at sunrise and at sundown. Some scientists say they howl to locate their families or their hunting buddies. Others think coyotes just like to hear themselves sing!

The word "coyote" comes from the name of an Aztec god whose name meant "barker-at-the-moon." Many images of coyotes show these cousins of pet dogs howling at the moon. Coyotes live in every state in the United States. Their fur is a mixture of black, cream, gray, yellow, and reddish brown. They are different colors in different parts of the country. In the Southwest, coyotes are more yellow in color and tend to be thinner than coyotes in other parts of the U. S. (Notice how the coyote in the photograph above blends into the desert habitat. This camouflage helps it hunt.)

Coyotes are mostly carnivores, but they will eat anything, including bugs, rabbits and other small rodents, reptiles, bats, eggs, nuts, fruit, berries, grasses, fish, and frogs. Coyotes that live near people will also eat garbage and small pets, if their owners aren't careful.

Coyotes are similar to pet dogs in many ways. They lie on the ground and make their beds by turning in circles until they pack down the grass, dirt, or snow. Their babies are called pups, and they are playful like dog puppies. Both coyote and dog pups play with "toys" like sticks, bones, and pinecones.

Coyotes are also different from pet dogs. They can run faster than dogs (up to 43 mph) and can jump farther (13 feet). They also have a keener sense of hearing.

Living near humans can be dangerous for coyotes. They can be hit by cars. Sometimes they are poisoned or hunted by people because farmers and ranchers believe coyotes are eating their crops or killing their animals. The number of coyotes that live in any area of the U.S. is controlled by the government.

Isabella's coyote painting

Isabella's painting shows a coyote howling.

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Launched: February 2008
Updated: 2 July 2011