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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals

  Carnivora · Canidae · Canis latrans

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Canis latrans


Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae

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Credit: Wind Cave National Park
Image of Canis latrans
Canis latrans - eastern animals are larger (top); typical western animal and pups are shown below
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Coyotes are among the most adaptable mammals in North America. They have an enormous geographical distribution and can live in very diverse ecological settings, even successfully making their homes in suburbs, towns, and cities. They are omnivorous, eating plants, animals, and carrion. Socially, coyotes live in a variety of arrangements. Some live alone, others in mated pairs, and others in packs, which may consist of one mated pair, their new young, and offspring from the previous season that have not yet left their parents. Packs are an advantage when preying on larger mammals such as deer, or defending food resources, territory, and themselves.

Sexual Dimorphism:

Males are larger than females.


Range: 750-1,000 mm


Range: 8-20 kg males; 7-18 kg females


Say, T., 1823.  in Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains : performed in the years 1819 and ’20, by order of the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, sec’y of war, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long : from the notes of Major Long, Mr. T. Say, and other gentlemen of the exploring party compiled by Edwin James, botanist and geologist for the expedition; in two vols., H.C. Carey and I. Lea, Philadelphia,1822-23. Vol 1, p 168.


Mammal Species of the World (opens in a new window).

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists species account * (opens in a new window).
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Distribution of Canis latrans

Image of Canis latrans
Canis latrans (Coyote), MidAtlantic
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Image of Canis latrans
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Skull of Canis latrans
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