Coyotes are a divisive animal. Unlike their cartoon counterpart, Wile E. Coyote—who is forever being foiled by a birdbrain—they are surprisingly cunning, which can make them really annoying to cottagers. While they may be frustrating sometimes, there’s also lots to be impressed about when it comes to these curious canines.
Here’s 13 things that you might not know about coyotes:
1. Coyotes aren’t just country creatures—they can also be found in urban environments
From Toronto to Chicago, coyotes can be found living in cities, marking urban parkland and forest preserves as their territory. And while they may have a reputation as a pest, they can actually help control populations of other problematic urban animals, including rodents.
2. Coyotes are looking for long-term commitment
There’s evidence to suggest that urban coyotes are monogamous and mate for life. They’ll only take on a new partner when the previous one has died. Pair bonds in rural coyotes also last for several years.
3. Regardless of whether they are rural or urban, coyotes parent as a unit
With both the male and the female on hand to feed and care for litters of up to 12 pups, coyotes have a survival advantage.
4. Coyotes are most closely related to gray wolves
Like wolves, they also use dens to give birth to their pups.
5. Coyotes can breed with wolves and dogs
In fact, all Eastern coyotes actually contain the genes of wolves and dogs. Colloquially, these hybrids are referred to as “coywolves” or “coydogs.”
6. Coyotes have an expansive population range
They can be found in nearly every Canadian territory and province, throughout the United States, and as far south as Costa Rica.
7. Coyotes are great swimmers
This skill has resulted in their widespread population, as their excellent swimming skills have allowed them to colonize islands.
8. A rare population of “snow coyotes” exists in Newfoundland
These animals aren’t albinos; rather than having an absence of pigment, they have genes that specifically turn their coats white. It’s believed that the mutation may have occurred when a coyote mated with a golden retriever.
9. There’s no wrong way to pronounce their name
How you pronounce “coyote” actually has more to do with where you’re from in Canada. If you rhyme it with “Wile E.,” then you’re probably from Ontario. Meanwhile, Western Canadians stick with “ky-oat.”
10. The root word of “coyote” is an indigenous word meaning “barking dog”
This won’t surprise anyone who has heard the howl of a coyote at night. The canines have upwards of 11 different vocalizations.
11. Coyotes can run up to 64 kilometres/hour
That’s fast enough to catch a Prairie Dog before it ducks back down into its hole.
12. Coyotes will eat pretty much anything
Although their diet is 90 percent meat, they’ll also eat fruit, berries, and grass. They’ve even been known to be daring enough to kill rattlesnakes and porcupines. Urban coyotes will also rummage through the garbage.
13. With few predators, coyote populations are self-regulated by disease
When populations are higher, disease spreads more readily amongst packs, bringing numbers down.