coyote


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coyote

(kī`ōt, kīō`tē) or

prairie wolf,

small, swift wolfwolf,
carnivorous mammal of the genus Canis in the dog family. Once distributed over most of the Northern Hemisphere, wild wolves are now confined to the wilder parts of a reduced range.
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, Canis latrans, native to W North America. Historically found in deserts, prairies, open woodlands, and brush country, it is increasingly colonizing urban habitats; it is also called brush wolf.

The coyote resembles a medium-sized dog, with a narrow, pointed face, long, thick, tawny fur and a black-tipped bushy tail. Adult males have a head and body length of about 35 in. (89 cm), with a 14-in. (36-cm) tail; they stand 21 in. (53 cm) at the shoulder and usually weigh about 30 lb (14 kg). The cry of the coyote, heard in the early evening, is a series of high-pitched yelps. Coyotes live in pairs, and both parents care for the young; they make their dens in roots of trees, rock crevices, or in ground burrows made by other animals. They are largely nocturnal, but are also seen in the day, and are extremely wary of humans.

They hunt alone, in pairs, or when hunting larger prey in small groups. Omnivorous feeders, they prey on a variety of small animals, sometimes cooperating to attack larger mammals; they also eat plant matter, carrion, and garbage. They can maintain a speed of 35 mi (56 km) per hour while chasing prey. Coyotes are responsible for destroying some domestic livestock, but they are valuable scavengers and destroyers of rodents.

There has almost always been a bounty on coyotes somewhere in the United States, and many thousands are killed each year. Despite this, coyotes have not been reduced in number, and their range has increased since 1900, due in part to the fact that many formerly forested areas now more closely resemble the plains and also that the eradication of top-level predators, such as wolves and mountain lions, removed their historical enemies and left an open ecological niche. Common in the central and W United States, they range N to Alaska, S to Central America, and throughout much of E North America; they have even moved into such highly urbanized areas New York City, Chicago, and Toronto. The eastern coyote is generally larger than those in the West as a result of having interbred with wolves and, to a lesser degree, with dogs; such hybrids are sometimes called coywolves.

The coyote is classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Canidae.

Bibliography

See W. Grady, The Nature of Coyotes (1995).

Coyote

 

(Canis latrans) a predatory mammal of the family Canidae. Body length, approximately 90 cm; tail length, approximately 30 cm; weight, up to 13 kg. The fur is brown with specks of black and gray. The species is found in the New World from Alaska to Central America. Coyotes inhabit open spaces and live in pairs. Mating occurs in January. The gestation period is between 60 and 65 days; the female bears five to ten pups in a burrow. Hares, rodents, and carrion are the coyote’s principal food; it rarely attacks sheep or goats. Because the coyote adapts well to changes in its habitat, its range is expanding.

coyote

[′kī‚ōd·ē]
(vertebrate zoology)
Canis latrans. A small wolf native to western North America but found as far eastward as New York State. Also known as prairie wolf.

coyote

foiled in attempts to enjoy prey. [Am. Ind. Folklore: Mercatante, 77–78]

coyote

1. a predatory canine mammal, Canis latrans, related to but smaller than the wolf, roaming the deserts and prairies of North America
2. (in American Indian legends of the West) a trickster and culture hero represented as a man or as an animal
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