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Coyote Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Inocente
They are relatives of dogs, but you would not want to pet one of these guys. Coyotes are wild and in charge of their own lives. Read about how coyotes live in virtually any environment they encounter.

Coyotes All Around Us

You may hear them howling in night as they call to their family members. You may have even seen one and mistaken it for a medium-sized dog. If you live in a dense urban area, a sprawling suburban neighborhood, or the rural countryside, they are not far from you. We're talking about coyotes. Coyotes have adapted, or become better suited to their surroundings, so they can live in many different environments and habitats.

Physical Adaptations

These wild relatives of dogs share many of the same traits and behaviors as dogs. Just like man's best friend, coyotes are built for hunting prey. They typically hunt alone unless hunting large animals, and they have very sharp claws and teeth for catching and eating their prey. They are not picky eaters, which allows them to live in both urban or rural settings. Their menu includes small animals like frogs, rabbits, mice, and fish, but it may also include deer or fruits and grasses.

Coyote pouncing
Coyote pouncing

These adaptations that coyotes have not only make them great hunters, but also allow them to avoid becoming prey themselves. Like dogs, coyotes have a great sense of smell and great vision. If they do spot prey or are in danger, they can run up to 40 miles per hour to catch their dinner or avoid becoming dinner. When they get close enough to their prey, they will often pounce on it to catch it.

As with most wild animals, coyotes benefit from their natural camouflage. Their fur varies from light brown to grayish, which helps them blend in with the many habitats they live in. Coyotes that live in the desert regions have a lighter coat than coyotes that live in the cooler northern climates.

Behavioral Adaptations

If you've never seen a coyote, don't feel left out. Most people haven't, even though coyotes are everywhere. After all, they are nocturnal, which means they are awake at night and sleep during the day.

Coyote in winter
Coyote in snow

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