Discovered by Thomas in 1819, the coyote is a native North America mammal that closely resembles the gray wolf. It belongs to the Family Canidae, Genus Canis, and species C. latrans according to the scientific classification. Coyotes are widely spread in plenty across North America near Mexico and also in Central America occupying the same environmental habitat with the American Jackal and the Red Wolf. Coyotes mainly feed on familiar animals such like hares, birds, rabbits, rodents, invertebrates, and fish.
The size of coyotes varies geographically with males weighing 7 to 21 kg and females averaging between 8 to 17 kg. This species found in Mexico tend to be bigger as compared to the Northern Subspecies and their hair color also varies with the geographical location and albinism is extremely rare. The principal fur’s color is light gray with red hair scattered across the black and white body. Coyote’s species inhibiting cold highlands have denser and longer furs as compared to their counterparts living in desert-like conditions. In size, the Coyote is characteristically smaller when compared to most members of family Canidae. They have relatively longer ears with a thin pointed face and the upper canine out spreads the mental foramina with less rounded and more elongate foot tracks which are unique and this makes them easily identifiable.
In 2005, 19 sub-species were scientifically recognized officially based on their characteristics and geographical location. The following species were documented. C.I thamnos and C.I frustor which are the eastern subspecies characterized by dark color, large, diminishing brightness and reduction in size when compared to those found in the North and the West. C.I texensis, C.I. latrans, C.I. lestes and C.I. incolatus are located in regions towards the Pacific. Their fur is brightly colored with traces of deep brown or orange hair.C.I ochropus and C.I umpquensis are reduced in size inhibiting the southern region. C.I microdon and C.I mearnsi are colorful with dark and reddish fur coupled with short noses.
Beginning with their social behavior, the coyote are more social as compared to most canid species. Their basic social structure is composed primarily of a family with one reproductive female and usually formed in the winter. However, some coyote fails to belong to a family probably due to temporal unproductivity thereby existing as a pack. Reproduction occurs through mating where a female attracts over five males through a scent with increased howling frequency. The female then selects a suitable male and meets after a month from the start of the heat. During pregnancy, the male is responsible feeding and providing the female with a suitable den and after delivery, the parents then establish a territory with a strict monogamous culture. The pups are entirely dependent on the mothers for 10 days after birth. Additionally, they also open their eyes after 10 days and the teeth begins to develop after 21 days.
The Coyote hunts in small groups or pairs consisting of large male and females approaching the prey from the front, unlike the wolf. However, little pray such as reptiles and fish are hunted individually through pouncing or chasing them. They have also been observed to form hunting alliances with other species such as the American badgers then share the hunt.
Coyotes communicate through body language with variations in the vocals produced. It has been observed that a hostile coyote drops its tail
and curves its back. Fighting coyotes face each other while swaying their tails and grumbling with their teeth to the jaws. The coyote has been studied to produce more than 10 different loud sound each with a different meaning. Growls have been analyzed to depict a threat, woofs to portray dismissive risks, huffs to show severe threats and yelps to show happiness.
The coyote inhibits different habitats including grasslands, semiarid region, deserts and forest on mountain slopes. They are also known to
be long-distance strollers even in winter because they cover approximately 6 km per day. According to a study, it was found that the coyote population is mostly inhibited by the gray wolf primarily due to excessive competition and predation. Wolves have been studied not to accept coyotes around them, but real evidence of them feeding on coyote has not been established. Coyotes have also been established to track wolves to share their meal. They also relate well with the red fox and rarely kills them for a meal. A large number of disease and parasites affects the coyote increasing their mortality rate. Viral disease such as rabies, infectious canine hepatitis, and oral papillomatosis are virulent among coyotes and deadly.
Their fur is an excellent source of income although it does not possess the durability required by rugs. The fur is used to line jackets, coats, muffs, and scarves. Additionally, the coyote is edible and has been eaten in the Plains Indians feast. The fat from coyotes’ body is used to soften leather and also eaten in combination with other foods.