Home » Mammals » Eastern Coyote

Eastern Coyote

Scientific name: Canis latrans

It is exciting to catch a glimpse of a coyote! They vary in color and size, so at first they might seem to be dog-like. The thick bushy tail is a distinguishing feature. They are not necessarily nocturnal, so seeing them about during the day is normal. They can be quite shy and reclusive, so you might be more likely to hear them, especially at night.

The eastern coyote established itself here in the 1940s, arriving from the west. Since then, their population has grown. They do well in suburban habitats, as there is a plentiful food supply and adequate cover.

Genetically, the coyote is related to the wolf. DNA analysis has shown that as the western coyote traveled east, it bred with the wolf along the way. For more information on how the eastern coyote acts as a genetic bridge, watch the PBS documentary, “Meet the Coywolf”

The coyote below is likely a pregnant female.  Once she catches a whiff of her human observers, she runs off.


2 feet at the shoulder


Up to 45 pounds


4-5 feet, nose to tail

click to flip



Opportunistic omnivores. They have varied diet, ranging from insects and berries to other mammals.


They can thrive in a variety of habitats, including suburbs and even cities! Most commonly, though, they are found in forests and fields.

Life Cycle

Coyotes mate for life. Breeding begins in January and the pups are born in March/April.  Dens, where the pups are raised, can be any protected area on the ground, such as a covered area resulting from downed trees. The mother stays close to her litter of 4-6 offspring, but they are independent enough to abandon the den by 8 weeks. By fall, these family groups become more vocal.  From this point through January, the coyotes born in the spring set out to find their own territory and the breeding season starts anew.

Ecosystem Connections

Coyote will sometimes eat deer fawns and sick deer, which help to control the problem of overpopulation that currently exists.

Human Connections

It is important to maintain the healthy fear that the coyote has for people. Wildlife (except for birds) should never be fed, and all garbage should be securely fastened to discourage ALL unwanted visitors, which can include bear, racoon and more.


The coyote can be very vocal, especially from the late summer into fall, from dusk till dawn. The series of yips and howls at different pitches echoing off rocks gives the impression that a large pack exists, but all the noise you hear is from only one family unit!

Fun Facts

In winter, look for coyote tracks in the snow!

Family Structure

The eastern coyote does not live in a pack like the wolf, but in a small family unit consisting of the male, female and the current year’s pups. The pups will disperse to new territory in the October to January time frame.

More on Mammals in Lewisboro