Coyote

Canis latrans

Front Track Hind Track
2 1/8 - 3 1/16 in. L x 1 5/8 - 2.5 in. W 1.75 - 2 15/16 in. L x 1 3/8 - 2 1/8 in. W

Coyote Tracks

Front track on the left. Hind track on the right.

 

Click to hear the coyotes howl. (51K .au)

Natural History of Coyotes

coyote

Coyote face. From a display. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2003.

Coyotes are very intelligent animals that have been able to adapt to many different environments. Some live in major cities such as Los Angeles, feeding off human garbage and hunting mice and rats. In fact, the city of Los Angeles is home to about 3000 coyotes who roam the streets at night. They have adapted so well to the urban environment, that few people even know the coyotes are there.

Their tracks average 2 inches long. The hind print is smaller than the front one. The inner two toes are smaller than the outer two. Coyotes have great stamina. They are good runners and swimmers.

They can eat a wide variety of foods, such as small mammals, eggs, fruit, berries, nuts, rodents, fish, carrion, insects, grains, vegetation, and even human garbage.

Dens are usually located in hollow trees, stumps, rock piles, or in brush. A coyote digs its own den, but will sometimes enlarge the burrow of another animal.

Young coyotes, usually three to nine pups per litter, are born in a den or shallow burrow in April or May. After they are about ten weeks old, the pups begin hunting together. By fall, they can survive on their own. Coyotes hunt both night and day.

 

 
Coyote. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2009.
Curious coyote caught on a trail camera.
   

perfect coyote track in mud

Front track of a coyote showing very nice details in mud. Coyote tracks are small in size relative to the tracks of dogs.
   
   

left front coyote track

The left front track of a coyote. This coyote had walked through a dried-up old puddle on an abandoned logging road. The tracks in the mud were some of the best I've ever encountered.
   
 

Coyote front track. Footprints of front feet are larger than hind paws. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Coyote track in dust. This is a front track. Front tracks are usually larger than the hind tracks. The front tracks must support the added weight of the animal's head, as well as half its body, so this may account for why they are larger.
   

coyote track in mud

This coyote track shows clearly that the two outer toes are tucked neatly in almost behind the front-most toes. The claw mark is nice and sharp. The claw mark also points relatively forward in the track.
   
   

Coyote front track. Pawprint in dusty soil. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A nice clear front coyote track in dusty soil. This one shows no claw marks. There was firm soil underneath the dust, so the animal didn't sink in much.
   
   

coyote and bobcat tracks

This photo shows the tracks of two different species. Coyote and bobcat. The coyote track at the top shows some sliding from forward motion. The coyote slipped in the mud! Below the coyote track are two tracks from a bobcat. They are the left front foot (clearly visible) and another track, which may be older, or it may be the left hind track of the same bobcat. This photo provides an opportunity to study the footprints of two species or wild predator. The differences in their tracks are apparent here.
   
   

Coyote hind track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Coyote hind track in dusty soil. Notice that the hind track has a smaller heel pad than the front track. Coyote toes are closer together and less splayed than the toes normally seen in dog tracks. Also, they are smaller tracks than you would think.
   

Coyote front track. Paw print shows no claws due to terrain. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A front track from a coyote. Compare the size and shape of this heel pad to that of the hind track above.
   

Coyote scat location on a dirt road. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Location of a coyote scat deposit. Coyotes, like other canines, will deposit scat in prominent places, where other animals are likely to find it.
   

Coyote scat. Copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Coyote scats found in the Mojave Desert of California.
   

Coyote scat found in a forest. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Coyote scat in a northern California mixed forest of tan oak, Douglas fir, coast redwood and California bay. This scat contains fur from prey.
   

Coyote track in dust. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Coyote track showing the hind print on top of the front footprint. The hind track has a smaller heel pad. In this instance, it registered as a tiny round pad on top of the wider heel pad of the front track. Look closely and you can see the outline of the hind print. Hind paws are usually smaller than front paws. Not all claws left marks in this track.
   

Coyote track in mud. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A nice coyote track in mud. The mud is drying up, leaving the toe prints outlined in darker mud. Claw marks are visible as small dots ahead of each toe.
   

Coyote track in mud. Knife for scale. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This coyote track shows good details and overall shape. You can make out the claw prints on a couple toes.  The knife is provided to give scale to the print. It measures 4.75 inches long and 1.25 inches wide at its widest point. This is NOT the best object to use to provide scale in a track photo. I used it because I was way out in the woods and didn't have anything else with me that I could use for scale. Normally, I carry a ruler with me to use in photographing tracks.
   

Coyote track in mud. Knife gives scale. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The same track as in the above photo, but with a scale for size comparison. When photographing footprints, always provide an object of known size so size of the track can be determined. A ruler is the best object to use, but you can use coins in a pinch.
   
Coyote track in dust. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.
A very nice coyote track in fine dust on a dirt road.
   
Right hind Coyote track in dust. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
The right hind track of a coyote in fine dust on a dirt road. The larger outer two toes tell you this is the right track. The small imprint left by the heel pad is characteristic of the hind foot.
 
Coyote tracks in dust. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
The hind track overlapping the front track. Coyote tracks are smaller than their size would lead one to believe.
   
See More Coyote Track Photos Here

 

Coyote Scats

Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Side-by-side comparison of coyote scat. The scat on the left was found, relatively fresh, at 8:30 in the morning. The same scat was photographed again at 4 in the afternoon. This gives a good comparison to see how scats age.
Coyote scat deposit location. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008. The red arrow indicates where the above scat was located on a dirt road. Coyotes, like bobcats, tend to place their scats in the middle of trails and roads. This is a place where many animals will pass by and notice or smell the scats. It's a great form of communication among animals.
 

Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.Coyote scat deposit location. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A coyote scat and its location on a trail. The placement is along a travel route where it will be found by other animals.

 

 

Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.Coyote scat deposit location. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Another coyote scat, placed next to an animal trail on an abandoned road. The trail is used by coyotes, bobcats, black bears, foxes, deer, and others. The coyote thus assures that his scent marker will be noticed. 

 

Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.Coyote scat deposit location. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A very fresh coyote scat from the side of a dirt road. I found it early in the morning. There were coyote tracks next to the scat, but no scrape mark. There was another scat further down the road, deposited near an older bobcat scat. The tracks hadn't aged much, and could have been only minutes old.

 

Coyote scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Coyote scat found on an abandoned road in a mixed forest. Notice how different the contents of this early spring scat are compared to those below with blackberry seeds in them. This illustrates the seasonal differences in diet.

 

Coyote scat of blackberry seeds. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A coyote scat composed of blackberry seeds. This was a very dry drought year.

 

Same coyote makes several scat deposits in short section of road

Fresh coyote scat composed of blackberries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

As I walked up the road, I found this fresh coyote scat deposited on the roadside. The tracks were still crisp and fresh too. The coyote then continued on down the road. I followed his tracks to see what he'd do next.

 

Location of the first coyote scat deposit. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This is the location of the scat found above. Marking roadsides or trails is typical of coyotes.

 

The second fresh coyote scat composed of blackberries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

After following the coyote for about 1/4 mile, I came upon this fresh scat. The same coyote had deposited both of these scats in a very short section of the road. This sort of behavior shows that they use scat as a means to communicate with others in their territory. It's a marker that advertises their presence. This coyote had been dining on blackberries, as are many of the local species at this time of year. This was late summer and berries were the primary crop that was ripe at the time. The diet will change when the berry crop is gone.

 

Location of the second coyote scat deposit. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The location where the scat above was deposited. The middle of the road is a good place for an animal to mark. It is highly visible and easy for other animals to see and smell from a distance.
 
 

For more coyote scat photos, see the pages below.

Coyote Scat 1
Coyote Scat 2

Coyote Scats Page

 

 
 

Coyote skull. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 1999.

A coyote skull found in a mixed forest of pine and other species. This skull is from the Wamic, Oregon area.

 

Coyote front foot cast.

Coyote front foot cast.

Front foot of a coyote cast in plaster of Paris. Hind foot cast in plaster. Slightly smaller than front foot.
Canine vs. Feline tracks (Is it a cat or a dog?)

Personal Notes on Coyotes

 

The coyote has a wonderful voice. I remember many nights when I sat up late listening to the coyotes howling at each other. It is a spine-tingling sound. I heard my first coyotes in the Hacienda Heights area of southern California. There were some wild areas in those hills back then. Coyotes and mountain lions hunted for deer and small mammals.

Joshua Tree National Monument (now a National Park) was another of my favorite coyote listening areas when I lived in southern California. I’d get off work in Los Angeles and drive to Joshua Tree for a weekend of camping and exploring. Fascinating area.

Now, I’m up in the redwood country where coyotes are not as common. However, I do hear them occasionally in the Cuneo Creek area of Humboldt Redwoods State Park. (California’s largest redwood state park and my personal favorite park. Not to mention my first web site.) Sometimes, on a quiet night, the coyotes will begin their song. It always stops me in my tracks. (No pun intended.)

 

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Copyright 1997, 2012. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera

Page Updated: March 31, 2012

 

Copyright 1997, 2012. Text, drawings, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design