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The head of a coyote in Yosemite National Park
Conservation status
Scientific classification
C. latrans
Binomial name
Canis latrans
Say, 1823
A Coyote in Death Valley.

The coyote (Canis latrans) also called the prarrie wolf, brush wolf or American jackal, is an animal of the Canidae family. The word "coyote" comes from the Náhuatl (Aztec) word cóyotl.[1]


Coyotes are smaller than wolves. The color of the coyote's fur is a grayish brown to yellowish gray on the upper parts, while the throat and underside are a more white color. The forelegs, sides of the head, muzzle and feet are reddish brown. The ears of the coyote are long and pointed.


Coyotes live only in North America and some areas of Central America. They live in the countryside, but also in cities too. The coyote is found throughout North America from California up to as far as Alaska. They normally live in dens about 6 feet wide and four feet tall.


The coyote is an omnivore and eats fruits, grasses, vegetables, rabbits, mice, shrews and voles. They also eat insects, worms, rats, fish, birds, deer, snakes, and lizards. In the city, coyotes find food easily. They dig up plants in gardens and eat food out of garbage cans.

Sometimes, they join small packs (groups), but normally hunt alone. Coyotes live in dens. They dig a tunnel under the ground and then dig out a larger area at the end of the tunnel where they sleep and have their babies or pups. They can have six pups at a time. Often a coyote den will have two entrances, with one that is hidden. Sometimes they dig more than one den, so they can move if an enemy finds the den.

Coyotes have a few enemies. Wolves, bears and cougars are the only enemies to coyotes, but there are not many wolves left in North America compared to the number of coyotes. The biggest enemy of the coyote is people. They do not usually attack people, but sometimes eat small pets such as cats.


The coyote is a character of many myths from Native American peoples. The coyote is often portrayed as a joker, and stories are told to explain things he does. The Pima regard him as the offspring of the moon. Coyote is always male with an overwhelming reference to his large penis which requires a pack to carry it in. He is a lustful creature with desire for Changing Bear Maiden and by attempting to have sex with women by becoming a baby. Coyote also has incestuous relations with his mother-in-law and daughter. He is credited for removing the teeth of vagina dentata or by moving the genitals to the correct location on the body in order to make sex pleasurable. Coyote has an appetite for menstrual blood and relates to Lakota girls' puberty rite.

Coyote is often responsible for the finality of death and introduces work and suffering. The Apache believe he created Europeans. The Zuni believe he created pubic hair. The Pomo say he stole the sun and made the world dark.

Coyote is curious and goes along with the crowd. He is a trickster, culture hero, and a feared shape-shifter. [2]


  1. Tedford, Richard H.; Wang, Xiaoming; Taylor, Beryl E. (2009). "Phylogenetic Systematics of the North American Fossil Caninae (Carnivora: Canidae)". 
  2. Gill, Sam D., 1943- (1992). Dictionary of Native American mythology. Sullivan, Irene F.. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. ISBN 0-87436-621-6 . OCLC 26588412 .