Breeding Season: “With Pups”

Coyotes give birth at about this time of year — usually from March through April. A bulging belly might reveal that they are heavy with pups right now.

How do coyotes experience their pregnancies?

The extra weight slows them down and they get tired — much like humans. Climbing steep embankments takes greater and greater effort as their pregnancies come to full term.

They have trouble scratching themselves: that back leg is hampered from reaching the itch by the bulging abdomen.

Being a curious critter, they want to know what is going on, so they examine their bellies where the nipples are: they seem to feel the changes they are going through. When is it that they actually “know” they’ll be having pups? When does the rest of the pack become aware of this? At a certain point, dens are prepared: might this be the signal to the rest of the pack about what is in store? How does she know the time is right for building her den?

Behaviorally, during their gestation period, they become more secretive and withdrawn than ever. They try to not be seen, and they don’t wander far from home. This is how they protect themselves and keep out of harm’s way.

One big behavioral change is that they don’t howl so often at sirens. Might this be so as to not reveal their locations during this vulnerable time for them?

Timeline. When the young are born, they will remain secluded in the den for about 6 weeks.  Mom is required to be there to nurse the youngsters and to provide warmth for them. At the end of this time period, her pups will emerge from the den — and she will slowly wean them, first onto regurgitated food brought home by Dad and other adult family members, and then onto whole rodents which are killed first. The final step in this process will involve teaching them to hunt on their own.

Few people ever see coyotes. You have an even slimmer chance of ever seeing a pup. If you are one of the lucky few, it usually isn’t until about July that you’ll see them, though you may be able to spot one as early as June.

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