What Do Coyotes Do When It Rains?

where is all of this coming from?

I watched coyotes for 2-1/2 hours in the rain today. For over half that time the downpour was intense. The coyotes did not leave or seek cover — they remained out in the rain, lying down most of the time! The rest of the time was spent howling due to a dog, hunting, and fidgeting.

It had been raining steadily when I first heard distressed coyote howling in the early morning. I ran to the scene of the noise where my suspicions were confirmed: a dog had interfered and a coyote was complaining loudly. The owner finally leashed her dog, and they moved out of the picture. The coyote walked briskly to a rock that formed a bluff, where it continued its distressed howling. After each spurt of howling, the coyote stopped to look around. This continued for about three minutes. Meanwhile, in the distance, a second coyote appeared. This one did not seem concerned about the howling — it looked as if it had just ambled into the picture — it stayed in the distance.

The howling ended and this coyote walked briskly over to where the second one had appeared. They both lay down, about 50 feet apart. That is where they remained for an hour and a half in the pouring rain — it was really pouring hard during this time frame!  These are some of the images I took — you can’t really see the rain, possibly because I increased the contrast to make them clearer.

After an hour and a half, the first coyote got up, stretched and wandered off to begin hunting. The rain had let up a little bit. The second coyote watched.  The minute the first coyote stopped to explore a gopher hole, the other coyote hurried over to check it out. Nothing was there, but they both continued hunting in the field for about an hour, until the third dog and walker went by. That is when they headed for cover in the bushes — they didn’t emerge again. I wondered if they had hung out in the rain specifically waiting to hunt? If so, it did not pay off. I did not see them catch a single rodent. When any dogs and their owners went by — there were few because it was still raining — both coyotes would stop their activity to sit and watch. Not until the walkers were out of sight did they resume hunting.

The images show one of the coyotes during the pouring rain. I was absolutely sure that the rain would drive them to seek cover, but it did not. The first coyote lay down higher up on the hill and remained there with its head down, resting and sleeping the whole time. But the second one — the one depicted here — appeared fidgety, like a child anxious for activity to begin. At regular intervals he looked over at the first coyote, as if waiting for that one to initiate some activity. This second one also put its head down, resting and sleeping, but not the whole time. In addition, he reacted to the rain and the situation:  licked the water on his paws, looked around a lot, raised and lowered his head often, squinted frequently to avoid getting rain in his eyes, watched the rain overhead, played with a found item for several minutes, shook the water out of his coat several times, and stretched a number of times.

shaking it out, even as it continued raining

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cindie White
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 04:40:22

    Amazing story!!!! Makes me want to sit out in the pouring rain more often. Thank you for taking the time and patience to teach us coyote behavior. I want to be more Coyote like.


    • yipps
      Nov 20, 2012 @ 14:00:35

      It would be nice not to be negatively impacted by the weather — to be more coyote like! I was out there in rain gear and under a plastic umbrella. Even so, after 2-1/2 hours, my old gore-tex boots had soaked through and I couldn’t wait to get home to change out of them!

  2. Gail
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 04:52:19

    Great shots! Do you happen to know what the temp was during this period? I would think if they were cold in any way that they’d seek shelter. Could the rain possibly help with fleas? Do they have access to water around the park area where they could swim ? I don’t even know if coyotes LIKE to swim or clean themselves in some way…?


    • yipps
      Nov 20, 2012 @ 13:49:56

      It was about 55ºF — not at all cold or uncomfortable. As you suggest, maybe the drenching rain, along with strongly shaking it all out, serves to loosen and expel some of the dirt, grime (and fleas?) that they have accumulated. It seems logical. They do have access to places they could swim, but I have never seen them do so. Charles has seen them swim across a channel, but that was under duress — the coyote was trying to get away. However, I know dogs that love to swim, so it could be that coyotes do.

  3. Charles Wood
    Nov 20, 2012 @ 19:24:17

    Not only to get away, I’ve also seen my Dad coyote swim that channel a few other times. The water in that channel is usuallly about twenty feet across. Dad walks into the water and when the water gets deep, he just keeps walking where his unsupported feet and legs provide propulsion quite naturally.


  4. Trackback: Patricia Randolph’s Madravenspeak: The trapper and the coyote – a Wisconsin love story | Wisconsin Wildlife Ethic-Vote Our Wildlife
    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 21, 2018 @ 02:58:58

      Hi Patricia — I’m really glad you’ve fallen in love with coyotes, but please also fall in love with their need to be wild and run free on their territories with their families. They are highly social animals.

      Yes, coyotes like to go hunting in the rain, but they do not like to be tethered in it with no way to get away from the wetness when they’ve had enough.

      Also, what’s the point of trapping coyotes to study them? The only way to learn anything about them is to observe them living their lives as they are meant to be lived: in the wild, with their families and on their territories. This is the only humane way to study them and keep them happy. Please tell this to The Urban-Canid Project of UW Madison which you say wants to live-trap them to study them. Janet

  5. Mark m.
    Oct 26, 2022 @ 20:30:59

    There have been many pet deaths in my neighborhood due to coyotes. The city council hired a biologist to advise the what to Do. He said if you kill the coyotes more will move into their territory. I’m doubting that because they are territoriel they would not allow that by the coyotes left. If you kill 10 out of a pack of 20 there would be 50% reduction in pet deaths.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Oct 27, 2022 @ 13:36:39

      What you say is incorrect. What the biologist said is correct. If you kill them, they will replace themselves. “Packs” are actually families and they usually run up to about 8. If you kill them, new ones will move in — you won’t be reducing their size or eliminating them for long. It’s important to keep the alpha parents there: this is what keeps the population stable. When you disrupt this, there will be an initial increase in numbers until the population evens out again. I’m saying this based on my own first-hand observations.

  6. Yipkiyi
    Oct 30, 2022 @ 06:25:31

    Coyotes are very intelligent & very observant. In my neck of the woods (rural south central ky) most coyote caused pet deaths happen when the family pet is let out just before bed time. If you consistently let the dog out between 8-9 every night & a passing coyote notices, it or they, will lie in wait & will likely become a frequent visitor until the opportunity presents itself. Pairs are the more commonly seen during the summer months. Once the actual winter months hit & breeding starts the alpha males try to re-establish their dominance of an area. Feb, March & April (depending on your location)is where the loners return for Denning season.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Oct 30, 2022 @ 18:53:22

      Hi Yipkiyi —

      I agree that MOST (but not all) interactions between coyotes and dogs take place at twilight: and yes, if a coyote sees a pattern, he’ll wait for the right opportunity to grab his prey. Smaller pets could be killed; larger pets could be bitten.

      However, alpha males never let go of their dominance of an area or their territories, and loners don’t return for the denning season but move on: loners are kept out by the territorial males, of which there is only ever one on any one territory, and this alpha male has a life-long mate (usually): they are a pair. I don’t see the pairs together as much in the Summer as in the winter.

      Thank you for your input! Janet

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