Baby Coyote

Reading Time: 6 mins

When you first think of a coyote, an image of a hardened adult scavenging in the wild might come to mind. But have you ever wondered about the life of a baby coyote, right from the moment it enters this world?

They're Born Blind and Helpless

At birth, coyote pups are small bundles of curiosity, usually weighing just about 250 grams. The mother coyote delivers anywhere from three to twelve pups, each tiny and blind, completely dependent on their mother and the safety of their den, quite a handful for the mother, don't you think? The first thing you might notice is their soft, fluffy fur that is usually a smoky grey in color. This changes as they mature, transforming into the more recognizable mix of grey, white, brown, and black seen in adults. After about ten days, their eyes open, ready to take in the world.

Vomit Eaters

As the coyote pups grow, their diet starts to diversify. By about 3 weeks of age, they begin to experiment with semi-solid food, usually regurgitated by their parents. This transition, also known as weaning, signifies a significant milestone in a young coyote's life.

Change in Eye Colors

Their eyes, a characteristic vivid yellow in adults, start as a blue-gray color at opening and gradually change over several weeks. Similarly, their teeth, which they are born with, start as small nubs but quickly develop into the sharp carnivorous tools they need for their meat-based diet.

They are Omnivores

From a young age, coyote pups learn to eat what's available. Coyotes are omnivores, and their diet ranges from small mammals, birds, and snakes to fruits, vegetables, and carrion. This adaptability helps them survive in various environments. Interestingly, a baby coyote's diet is heavily influenced by its environment. In the desert, for instance, their meals might include more reptiles or insects, while those living near human settlements might have a diet consisting of food scraps or even small pets.

Seasonal Breeders

Coyotes are seasonal breeders, which means that most pups are born in the spring. This timing allows the pups to grow and learn during the warmer months when food is more abundant.

Exceptional Senses

From a young age, coyote pups exhibit excellent hearing and a keen sense of smell, which are vital for locating prey and avoiding predators. Their eyesight also develops quickly, further enhancing their survival skills in the wild.

Early Independence

Coyote pups become independent at a relatively early age. By 6-9 months, most pups have left their birthplace to establish their own territories. However, some may remain with their parents, forming packs that hunt and live together.

Babies Learn Hierarchy

Coyote pups spend their initial months learning their place in the hierarchy.Hierarchy is a significant element in coyote social structure. Each member knows its rank and adheres to it, creating an orderly system. Dominant coyotes display their status through body language, such as standing tall or holding their tails high. In contrast, submissive coyotes may lower their body, flatten their ears, or tuck their tail between their legs.

Baby Jackals are Related to Wolves

Coyotes, scientifically known as Canis latrans, are native to North America. These adaptable animals have been around for a long time, with their ancestors dating back to the Pleistocene era, about 1.8 million years ago. In fact, coyotes have seen the rise and fall of some significant characters like the sabre-toothed cat and mammoth. Although commonly linked with the gray wolf, genetic studies indicate that the coyote diverged from a common ancestor with the wolf around 1 million years ago.

Where can You Find Them?

Now, let's talk about distribution. Originally, coyotes were primarily found in prairies and deserts of central and western North America. However, over the past century, they've proven themselves to be incredible survivors and have expanded their range threefold! Today, coyotes inhabit a vast expanse that extends from Central America, throughout the United States, and up into Canada. What's really interesting is their presence in urban environments. Coyotes have become quite the city slickers, with populations in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. Talk about being versatile!

Playful Behavior

Like many young animals, coyote pups are known for their playful behavior. Play helps them develop physical skills, practice social interactions, and learn about their environment. They're often observed play-fighting with their siblings, which also strengthens family bonds.

Quick Learners

Although they're born helpless, coyote pups learn fast. They start exploring their surroundings at just three weeks old. And by the time they're around nine weeks old, they start learning how to hunt from their parents. Talk about a crash course in survival!

Cozy Dens

When expecting pups, coyote parents will seek out a safe and warm place to use as a den. This could be a hollow log, a burrow abandoned by another animal, or even a spot under your porch if you live in an urban area.

Strong Family Bonds

Coyotes are family animals. The parents and even older siblings from previous litters help in raising the pups. They bring food, play with them, and protect the den. This strong sense of family ensures the pups are well-cared for until they can fend for themselves.

Vocal Learning

Coyote pups begin developing their unique language from just three weeks old. By about ten weeks, they're capable of making a variety of sounds - yips, barks, and howls - which adult coyotes can recognize. These sounds are crucial for pack communication.

The different sounds coyotes make each carry their own meaning. Howls are like long-distance phone calls, traveling miles to connect separated pack members or to mark territory. The shorter yips and barks serve as more local, everyday chatter, often heard after successful hunts or during pack regrouping. Growls and huffs are used to establish dominance or resolve territorial disputes, preventing conflicts.

Coyotes don't just make sounds, they're also excellent listeners. They can identify who's making a call, gauge their emotional state, and even distinguish between different types of howls. In the coyote world, their complex language system is both fascinating and essential for survival.


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