Coyotes have been calling North America their home since before the first settlers arrived. In their stories, Native Americans often referred to the coyote as being a clever and savvy beast. The modern coyote continues to display its cleverness as it adapts to all types of environments; from the deserts and prairies of the West, to the forests of the North East. Over time these members of the canine family, often considered pest by ranchers and farmers, have developed some very interesting traits and behaviors that allow it to survive in the most extreme conditions.
- Coyotes are copraphagic, which means they eat feces, especially cat feces. This provides coyotes with trace minerals and nutrients that they don’t get from their own food and makes them resistant to diseases. Wildlife biologists at Texas Tech did a blind taste test on scat with coyotes and other animals. They put 10 different kinds of droppings in squares and counted the number of footprints in each square. Cat droppings won, paws down.
- Coyotes have selective digestion. In tough times, such as during a snowy winter, they will digest much more of the animals they eat compared to when food is more plentiful.
- In bad times, coyotes limit the number of pups that are born in the spring. Instead of the usual six to eight, they may have only one or two offspring.
- Coyotes are naturally shy animals that usually hunt at night, but they occasionally become fearless when surrounded by non-aggressive humans. If a coyote comes at you, wave your arms, yell and take stamping steps toward the animal. Do not turn your back or run. A coyote understands this as fear and will be much more likely to attack.
This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® Issue #191. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® magazine are available here.
Whether on or off the trail, the Icon will light your way.
/ Feb 2, 2015