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The Coyote


Summary: Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons is portrayed as a very clever character for good reason. The coyote is great at outsmarting its competitors in the wild, especially when hunting for food.

Did you know the coyote is a very closely related to dogs? In fact, it is in the same scientific family as our domestic canines. The scientific name for coyote actually means œbarking dog. If that's the definition for a coyote, then I guess my next-door neighbor's yippy Chihuahua counts as one.

Coyotes are bigger than foxes, but smaller than wolves. They typically have brown or grey coloring on their backs, white fur underneath and tails that are round and bushy. One neat fact about coyotes is that their tails turn sideways and get bigger when they sense predators nearby. They can hear and smell very well. Another random fact about coyotes is that they walk only on their five toes. Definitely the ballerina dogs of the forest.

These furry creatures of the wild typically live about 14 years. At one time they lived only in valleys and deserts, but they have adapted to living in mountains and forests. Their population in the United States is currently the highest that has ever been recorded, so they are not facing extinction, much to the chagrin of sheep farmers. Farmers usually dislike coyotes because they prey on calves, lambs, and other farm animals. They are predators to any kind of livestock that is smaller than them.

If you live in Dallas or Los Angeles you have a very good chance of seeing coyotes because they have congregated in large numbers in these cities. One of the main reasons coyotes can survive in almost any region is because they are not picky about the kinds of foods they eat. They prefer eating small animals such as mice or other rodents, but they will eat salamanders, bugs, and garbage if nothing else is available. They also scavenge on carcasses because what wild animal doesn't love chowing down on decaying animals for dinner?

Coyotes are typically known as clever animals for a good reason. They watch birds up in the sky for tell-tale signs of food on the ground. Carrion birds will fly in circles and hover around dead animals before swooping in to eat them for lunch. When coyotes see this bird pattern they run out to the carcasses and eat them before the birds have a chance to get their fill. Pretty clever, huh?

Besides being cunning, coyotes also have speed as an advantage in the wild. They can run up to forty miles per hour. They sometimes run even faster to get to the office the morning after a late night out on the town. Oops! That's a totally different type of coyote.

Coyotes are well-known for their howling ability. They howl long distances in order to communicate with others of their kind. This usually occurs around twilight or just before sunrise.

These furry creatures dig dens in which to sleep and raise their pups. They try to camouflage their homes for protection from predators. Surprisingly, only about twenty percent of coyote pups live past their first year.

One of the most famous animated coyotes is Warner Brothers' Wile E. Coyote, who starred opposite the Road Runner. In most of the Road Runner episodes, Wile E. ends up getting squashed or trapped in the bottom of a canyon in an attempt to catch the Road Runner. Even though Wile E. has the wits, R.R. beats him every time with his speed. The trouble-making coyote also made appearances in the movies Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Space Jam.

Besides starring in blockbuster movies and TV shows, coyotes have also taken on the role of mascots. For example, the San Antonio Spurs have Clark Coyote and Oregon State University use to have Jimmy the Coyote as its mascot. The coyote is also the state animal of South Dakota.

Sometimes, the presence of coyotes can become a nuisance to humans. Here are some tips on diverting them:

  • Build a fence in your yard, ensuring that it is at least six inches into the ground so that coyotes cannot dig it up.
  • Keep food for your pets indoors.
  • Do not feed any coyotes you see because they will probably return for more and that second course could be your pet if you have neglected to bring it indoors.
  • Make sure that the lids to your garbage cans are secured tightly.


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