The Coyote of Costa Rica

Coyote in jungle

Common Name: Coyote

Type: Mammal

Family: Canidae such as wolves and domestic dogs (German shepherd), coyote looks remarkably like his two cousins.

Range: Throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Size: 40-46″ in length, 24-36″ tall

Weight: 25-33 lbs. 19-25 lbs.

Diet: Smaller mammals, fruit, carrion. Rabbits, rodents, birds, amphibians, lizards, snakes, fish, crustaceans and insects and occasionally larger prey including elk, sheep and deer, Also carrion and some plant material: fruits and grasses.

Average life span: 14-16 years in the wild, 18 in captivity.

Habitat: Extremely diverse. Found in plains, mountains, desert, broken forests and tropics.

Breeding/Reproduction: Form monogamous pairs during breeding season. Usually 5 to 10 pups are born in a den after 60-65 days gestation.

The Coyote is a species of canine and are members of the Canidae family under the order Carnivora. It is also wildly known as American Jackal or the Prairie Wolf. It got its name from the Nahuatl word cóyotl. Its scientific name, Canis latrans, is “barking dog” in Latin. They emerged in North America during the Pleistocene epoch, 1.81 million years ago. Today coyote are mostly found in North and Central America, which includes Panama in the South, North through Mexico, United States as far as Alaska and northern portions of Canada. And certainly in Costa Rica. They can be found in the National Parks of Costa Rica.

Their habitat is mostly in deserts, open woodlands, prairies and brush country. There are presently 19 recognized subspecies of coyotes in which 16 of those are in Canada, Mexico and the United States and 3 in Central America. The coyote has slender and pointed snout and a distinguished grayish brown to yellowish gray color on the upper part fur with a buff or white fur below. It has reddish brown forelegs and a bushy, black – tipped tail that has a scent gland located in its dorsal base. It has higher density of sweat glands in its paws. Most coyotes grow typically from 30 to 34 inches in length and average weight of 7 to 21 kilograms. The northern coyotes are much larger than southern ones. They were known to shed its hair beginning on May and ends in July where heavy shedding happens. Though they were noted to travel in groups they primarily hunts in pairs. Except if they prey on bigger animals they hunt mostly six in packs. If it’s in pursuit of its prey, a coyote may reach the speed up to 43 mph and can jump up to 13 feet.

Coyotes are primarily nocturnal which means they hunt and do activity during night time. But they are also essentially diurnal but adapted to more nocturnal state because of pressures from humans. They are considered as opportunistic and versatile carnivores. Depending on the season their diet consists mostly of 90% mammal. Coyotes eat small mammals from prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mice, eastern cottontails and voles. Also they include birds, lizards, javelin, snakes, and deer as well as large insects and other large invertebrates in their sustenance. Even though they consume large amounts of carrion, they still fancy fresh meats. During autumn and winter they include fruits and vegetables in their food source. Gray wolf and cougars is their most significant predator. But since many coyotes are the most abundant livestock predators in the North America, the United States government routinely shoots traps and even kills almost 90,000 coyotes each year to protect livestock.

are temporarily monogamous in nature but still depend upon their environment. After the female chooses a partner, the mated pair will remain a couple for a number of years. After mating and birth of their pups both parents are active in feeding their young. Coyotes are known for their high pitched howls, yips, yelps and barks. It is mostly done at dusk or night but may sometimes hear during day. More howls are heard during spring on mating season and in autumn where the pups leave their families to another territory. A coyote’s life span is in maximum of 10 years if it’s in the wild and 18 years if it’s in captivity. Study shows that coyotes since they are versatile adapted well living in dense populated human settlements. Still mostly avoiding humans, but they tend to lose their fear of humans since they adapt upon living near human settlements.

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