The coyote (Canis latrans
) is a common predator of poultry. They are a member of the Canidae family, which means that they are related to dogs, wolves and foxes. Adult coyotes weigh between 20 and 30 lbs (13 kg) and measure 23 to 26 inches tall and 42-50 inches in length. They are often mistaken as small dogs or foxes, and are progressively seen more often during the daytime as well as at night. Coyotes are scavengers and eat whatever they can find.
Coyotes possess good eyesight and hearing and a highly developed sense of smell. They can run at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour for short distances and travel over fairly large home ranges (from 2 to 20 square miles).
How to differentiate from a dog
A coyote's ears are usually carried more erect than a dog's, and the distinct black patches at the base and tip of the tail also help distinguish coyotes from dogs. Coyotes have dark fringes on their coat, generally grey with a rusty tint on the neck and flanks. Their tails are carried lower than a dog's.
Coyotes are found in all habitats, from woodlands and fields, coastal beaches, deserts to urban environments. They build their dens in a variety of places--including storm drains, under storage sheds, in holes dug in vacant lots, parks or golf courses, or in any other dark, dry place. They typically den where thick, dense vegetation obstructs view of the entrance and makes human entry difficult.
Coyotes tend to travel and hunt singly or in pairs. They may form groups as population density increases or where food is abundant. Family groups remain together during the summer and into the early fall.
Coyotes can jump or climb over and dig underneath fences. Coyotes will eat poultry and their eggs if they can get to them. The typical attack behavior of adult coyotes is to grab the animal at the throat behind the jaw. The victim usually displays puncture wounds in the throat region. Upon skinning, the throat area may exhibit considerable bleeding below the skin. Coyotes may bite the head, neck, or back, causing massive tissue and bone damage. Spacing of the teeth of an average coyote is 1 1/8 to 1 3/8 inches between the upper canines and 1 to 1 1/4 inches between the lower canines. This spacing of punctures observed in the hide or tissue may be an aid in confirming coyote predation. Coyotes may also urinate, defecate and scratch after feeding.