Coyotes are adaptable animals that live in a wide range of habitats. They form strong family groups, den in spring and give birth to litters of three to twelve puppies that are raised by both parents until they can hunt on their own by fall. Coyotes can communicate with a huge repertoire of barks, howls and yips that can include soft yips for affection or low growls to assert dominance. Coyote body postures and scent signals can also convey messages such as fear, hunger or aggression.
The coyote’s mating season usually lasts 4-6 weeks and peaks in late January through early March. Coyote sightings increase at this time and it is more likely that the animals will be active during dawn or dusk when their vocalizations are most heard. In addition, it is often colder and food may be scarce which can cause some coyotes to become more bold, especially around feeders and garbage.
Following a gestation period of 60 days, the average number of pups born to a female is six. The young are blind and deaf and utterly dependent on their mother for food until their eyes open at about 10 days. After about a month, the pups are ready to leave their mother’s marked territory and join their father in hunting for small rodents and rabbits.
The average lifespan of a coyote is about 13 to 15 years in the wild, but they can live up to 20 years in captivity. They have survived despite encroaching human civilization, hunting and culling, and even poisoning. This is largely due to their ability to adapt. Interestingly, they are capable of hybridizing with dogs and wolves (producing offspring called coydogs or coywolves), but this is uncommon in the wild.