Coyotes are very adaptable, secretive canines that occur in a diversity of habitats all across the state. They are dog-like in appearance and somewhat resemble a small German Shephard.
Description: A large mammal with an elongated muzzle, long legs, and a long, well-furred tail with a black tip. Ears are erect and triangular shaped. The long, thick, coarse fur is variable, but usually light gray to dull yellow with the outer hairs tipped with black. The backs of the ears and the outer leg color are typically reddish. Throat, belly, and under tail color is white. Coyotes have a round pupil.
Length: 39.5 - 54 inches
Tail: 10.8 - 16 inches
Ears: 4 - 4.8 inches
Weight: 18 - 30 pounds
Similar Species: Red and Gray Foxes are smaller, have longer tails, and have vertical slits for pupils. Some domestic dog breeds may be very similar to coyotes.
Habitat: Coyotes are found in many different habitats. They can live almost anywhere including fields, forests, farmlands, shrubland, and urban areas. Dens are usually located in remote or unused fields, often in a bank, under a hollow log, in a rock cavity, or under a deserted building.
Diet: Small mammals and rabbits compose a majority of their diet, but they eat a variety of other animal foods. Some plant matter, such as fruit, also eaten.
Breeding information: Breeding usually takes place in February and March when the females are receptive. Gestation lasts 58-63 days. Females produce between 2-19 (usually 5-7) pups in a litter. Young are born with brownish-gray hair, but are blind and helpless. They begin to open their eyes around 8 days and learn to hunt between 8 and 12 weeks old. Both adults help care for the young.
Status in Tennessee: Coyotes are locally common due to their adaptability. They are hunted to control their damage to livestock and poultry, and for their fur pelts.
- Coyotes can hunt alone or with other Coyotes. When hunting rodents alone they will creep up on its prey, freeze like a pointer, and then pounce with all 4 feet.
- Coyotes run with their tail down at a 45 degree angle.
Best places to see in Tennessee: Rural areas and farm fields.
For more information:
Schwartz, C.W. and E.R. Schwartz. 2001. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2nd Edition. University of Missouri Press and Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO.