A coyote is a canine native to North and Central America. These animals are often compared to wolves, another well known wild canine, although they are much smaller, with distinctly different behavior patterns and lifestyles. They are also extremely well adapted to living alongside humans and can be seen in urban areas in addition to more rural and wild areas. Several zoological parks also keep coyotes, for members of the public who are interested in seeing these creatures and learning more about them.
Formally, these animals are known as Canis latrans, with the English word coming from the Spanish; Spanish conquistadors borrowed the word from the Nahuatl coyotl. Coyotes play an important role in the mythology of many Native American nations, where one is often depicted as a trickster god. Legends about it often include complex and clever shenanigans and tricks in which an anthropomorphized Coyote pulls the wool over everyone's eyes.
Coyotes look a lot like dogs, with brownish-gray to yellow-gray fur and a classic canine profile. They are also extremely bold, and very clever. These animals are famous for being heard and not seen, with a wide array of vocalizations, including yips and howls, which are often included in Westerns for ambiance. The canids are also extremely bold, and they are typically unafraid of people when they encounter them.
These canines are carnivores, seeking out small animals to hunt on their own and sometimes bringing down larger animals as a pack. This can be a problem for livestock like sheep and goats, as coyotes will freely prey on this animals. They will also eat carrion and garbage, with ones living in urban areas relying heavily on dumpsters and trash cans for nutrition, often much to the frustration of humans.
Unlike wolves, coyotes do not typically form large packs. Many live and hunt alone or in pairs, and when a pack forms, it is typically small and easily redistributed. The animals mate in the early spring, producing litters of around six pups after a two month gestation, and the pups are usually independent within six months or so, although some may stick around to supplement the pack. They have also been known to interbreed with dogs; the result of such matings is known as a coydog.