In the past, coyotes (Canis latrans) lived solely in deserts and prairies. Now they also live in forests, mountains, tropical ecosystems, and even in cities throughout North America, Mexico, and into Central America.

The expansion of coyotes into new areas is largely due to their remarkable adaptability. They are not picky eaters and therefore can survive almost anywhere. They will eat anything from fruit and insects to livestock and deer. Though they prefer fresh meat, they eat large amounts of carrion. 

Coyotes also adjust well to changes in the landscape. As human populations grow, coyotes thrive in suburban, agricultural, and urban environments. Cautious and elusive, especially around humans, they are rarely seen during the day.

Another reason coyote populations are thriving may be that humans nearly eliminated their main natural predator: wolves. Humans hunted wolves almost to extinction in many areas, giving coyotes more freedom to expand their territories undeterred. 

Coyotes form strong family groups. Females give birth in the spring to an average of six pups. Both parents care for the pups until they are able to hunt on their own, which is typically by the next fall.

The most vocal of all North American wild animals, coyotes communicate with distinctive barks and high-pitched yips and howls. At night, when they are most active, it can be quite a canine chorus when they combine voices to communicate their territories, location, and other important information.

Coyotes are abundant. Their populations may, in fact, be at an all-time high. They have no current threats to their population but are susceptible to localized threats due to hybridization with domestic dogs and wolves.

  1. How can coyotes move into new areas so easily?

  2. Why are eastern coyotes larger than western coyotes?

  3. How can you tell a coyote from a domesticated dog?


in large amounts.


having to do with farmers, farming, or their way of life.


dog or another member of the family Canidae.


flesh of a dead animal.


area of land that receives no more than 25 centimeters (10 inches) of precipitation a year.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.


process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.


large grassland; usually associated with the Mississippi River Valley in the United States.


animal that hunts other animals for food.


geographic area, mostly residential, just outside the borders of an urban area.


having to do with city life.