Are Coyotes Nocturnal?

Coyotes belong to a species of canine that is found in large numbers in North America. This canine has around 19 sub-species and has been allowed to grow in numbers because of various reasons. In this article, we’ll be talking about the living habits of coyotes and try to answer the question: are coyotes nocturnal

In general, coyotes are nocturnal animals. Nocturnal means that they are generally active in the night and they sleep and rest during the day. Coyotes that live by populations of people will usually be most active at night or at around the same time as the sun rises and sets. In areas where coyotes live away from people, they may be more inclined to hunt during the day.

Mother coyotes will hunt at any time of the day or night if their young pups are hungry. These animals will usually hunt alone or in pairs, but they will sometimes hunt with a pack if they are after a larger prey, such as an adult deer.  

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What makes coyotes special? 

There are not many animals that are known to be as adaptive and versatile as Coyotes. This is because, in spite of rapidly changing landscapes and other such things that may have directly impacted their living, coyotes have been able to increase their range. This speaks quite a few things about its ability to adapt and human interference or human infringement in its habitats and living spaces have been handled quite well by the animal over the past many decades. It also has been able to ward off threats from wolves which are considered to be the natural enemy of coyotes.

Where do coyotes live? 

Coyotes are found all over North America! Coyotes live in every state in the United States except for Hawaii and they also live in parts of Canada and Mexico. Coyotes used to only really be found in the Great Plains region of North America, but their range has expanded greatly, and they can now even be found living in massive cities, such as Los Angeles.

As mentioned earlier, there are around 19 to 20 sub-species of coyotes across the USA

Wild coyote lays in a California park at sunset
Wild coyote lays in a California park at sunset

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What do coyotes eat? 

Coyotes, like domesticated dogs, are omnivores. This means that they eat a diet that is a combination of meat and plants. Most of their diet is made up of small mammals like rabbits, hares, groundhogs, mice, prairies dogs, chipmunks, and gophers, as well as small birds, snakes, fish, crustaceans, and even some types of insects.

When a coyote hunts in a pack, they are able to eat larger prey, such as wild turkeys, deer, elk, wild sheep, and pronghorns. Plant-wise, these animals also love to snack on any fruits or vegetables that they can find, as well as leaves and roots. Additionally, they will go through a trash can to find scraps of human food if they have access to one.  

Coyote eating a whitetail deer in Buffalo Pound Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Coyote eating a whitetail deer in Buffalo Pound

Even though coyotes are related to dogs, coyotes run with their tails down, while dogs run with their tails up. Also, coyotes are excellent swimmers and can live to be up to 20 years old in captivity.

Why do they hunt aggressively? 

Coyotes know that wolves that are often bred by human beings are their biggest threats. However, in spite of this threat they continue to hunt even during the day. But if they are too close to human beings, they would prefer hunting after sunset, especially during late night.

Even in some situations, they are seen hunting during the day time even in the presence of human beings not too far away from them. This is done basically with the purpose of finding food for their litters. They hunt in groups and when they have litters, there have been occasions where coyotes would not mind hunting for the whole day.

They are extremely active and agile and also ferocious when it comes to protecting the interests of their clan and more particularly the litters. 

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How big are coyotes? 

On average, coyotes usually weigh about 15 to 45 pounds, but sometimes they can be around 50 pounds. They are usually only about 30 to 40 inches long. This makes them quite a bit smaller than their gray wolf cousins.  

Do coyotes live in a pack? 

Coyotes like to hunt alone, but they do like to live with others! A coyote usually lives in a pack with an alpha male and a female. This pack will also include their offspring – both from the current season and from prior seasons. Coyote packs will also include other individual coyotes who have been accepted into this coyote family.

The size of the pack will often be a result of how much food that they pack can find. If a coyote pack is being fed by humans (both intentionally and unintentionally) then the pack will likely be larger than a pack that is completely self-sufficient.  

Additionally, a pack of coyotes will usually stay in a “home range” which is the area that they live. They will mark their territory with their urine, much as dogs do. Coyotes will very heavily defend their territory. Again, like the size of their pack, the size of a coyote’s home range will depend on if they get food from humans or not. A pack that hunts for itself all the time will have a larger home range than a pack that also gets some food from humans.  

Whether they are hunting during the night or during the day, coyote families always believe in being a part of the pack. The pack is headed and dominated by an alpha female and a male. They are the ones who form a breeding pair.

Why do coyotes howl? 

Coyotes are naturally very vocal animals. They usually howl in order to communicate with each other and to establish territory. On top of howling, coyotes will also bark and yip. They will bark if they are defending their dens or their kill. Yipping is just another way for these vocal animals to communicate with one another.

Coyotes can also produce sounds such as warbles, trills, crescendos, and lilts by changing the pitch and tone of their vocalizations.  

RELATED: Do Wolves And Coyotes Bark?

Conclusion 

Coyotes without any doubt are fascinating animals. However, because of their large size, and human intervention we often tend to overlook the problems they face when it comes to hunting and looking for food when they have many litters to take care of.

When coyotes are forced to live in proximity to humans, they may tend to be nocturnal. However, given a normal choice, they also would not mind being active from early in the morning to sunset. If they live in areas where they are not disturbed by human beings, they would not mind being active during the day and also during the night.