Scientific Name:Canis latrans
Geographical Range:From Alaska through Canada into Central America
Habitat:Forests, farms, woodlands
Diet in the Wild:Omnivorous, mostly mammalian. The coyote will eat birds, snakes, leaves of balsam fir and white cedar, strawberry, apple, and sasparilla.
Conservation Status:Not protected.
Location in the Zoo:Located in the Texas Wild area under the Brush Country exhibit.

Physical Description:
Coloration varies from grayish brown to a yellowish gray. The throat and belly are whitish and the tail is half the body length of the coyote. The tail is bottled shaped with a black tip. Coyotes are smaller than gray wolves but larger than foxes.

Social Organization:
Coyotes are not as likely to form packs like wolves. However, hunting can be done alone, in pairs, or as a family, depending on the prey. An interesting fact is that the coyote will sometimes form a partnership with the badger. The coyote will use its sense of smell to find a burrowed rodent, and then the badger uses its claws to dig it up. Both the coyote and the badger will share the victim.

Special Adaptations:
The coyote is continuously trying to be killed by humans through either hunting or poison but the coyote rarely takes the poison bait because it usually prefers to catch and kill its own prey. Humans are also having a hard time hunting it because it likes to stay around large herds of deer or antelope, which are only easily located in national parks.

Reproductive Behavior:
Courtship lasts usually for about 2 to 3 months. Once a female has chosen her partner, they may remain together for several years but not usually for a lifetime. The gestation period is from 60 to 63 days. The usual litter size is 6, but can range from 1 to 19. Coyotes give live birth, but when the coyote pups are born, they are born blind. The pups are fed by regurgitation of food by both parents. Male pups usually leave the den between 6 and 9 months, while the females usually remain with the parents. The pups reach the average adult size by 12 months. Coyotes mate with domestic dogs and sometimes with the gray wolf.

Coyotes at the Fort Worth Zoo:

There were two coyotes at the zoo, a tan female and a black male. The animal above is a younger pup.

Page Author:
Brad Polenz

Sources and Links: Erik Tokar, May 2000.

Johnson, George and Raven Peter. Biology Sixth Edition. McGraw-Hill Publishing 2002: 642.

Editors Cornish, Charles; Selous, F.C.; and Ingersoll, Ernest. The Standard Library of Natural History. “Vols. I-III Living Animals of the World.” The University Society, Inc 1908: 88-89.

Hall, Raymond. Mammals of North America. Vol. II. Wiley-Interscience Publishing 1981: 923-924. Steve Peck, 2002.

WhoZoo Home

WhoZoo Animal Index

Mammals at the Fort Worth Zoo