Hi Dad, Wanna Play?

The pup has received a strict and heavy-handed (and probably not-expected) retort and rejection to his enthusiastic, happy invitation to play. He responds, expressing his feelings through tucked chin, ears swiveled back, squinting eyes, tight jaw — not so different from our own painful grimacing to such a retort. The flopping over is rather melodramatic, but I know human kids who might have done that!  :)) I’ve seen coyote pups react this way many times — usually when they are conflicted: it’s as though all synapses fired at once without a clear outcome!

Pups are Four-Months Old Now and Beginning to Venture Out More

Pups in the San Francisco Bay Area are now about four-months old and they are venturing out into the world more, so you might be lucky enough to see one! To a human who doesn’t know them well, a pup from a distance may be indistinguishable from an adult. A couple of weeks ago I posted photos of a young mother who had been regularly mistaken for a pup. But they really are different, beginning with their size which is just about 80% of an adult’s right now. But since coyotes vary in size, you may not be able to use this to tell if what you are seeing is actually a pup, especially if it is alone or far away. At this time of year, most coyotes look smaller than usual because they have shed their very thick, fluffy, 3″ coats for the summer.

Pups are distinguished from adults more by their behavior than anything else. Pups are flighty, quick, very wary, erratic and sometimes not well coordinated. They will show subservience when they greet any of the adults by crouching low. They’ll be the first to flee when they see you, at the same time as they peek around bushes to watch you, always from a very safe distance: they are extremely curious. Some are braver than others and they’ll most likely carry their bravery (or lack thereof) with them into adulthood. Each coyote has it’s own personality, not unlike us humans, and as far as I’ve seen, some of it is innate and some is acquired.

I love watching their bouts of *twisting-and-bowing-or-springing* — there must be a name for this but I don’t know what it is — where they seem not quite able to direct themselves, or they become conflicted about what to do, and instead get tied up in knots for a few seconds as uncontrolled energy mixed with indecision courses through their bodies!

In the photo below you’ll see a four-month old pup born this year to the right, and a yearling — born last year — to the left. The yearlings are protective of their younger siblings and actually help raise them. In this case, these are sisters from different litters from different years and each has one litter-mate.

Please keep your distance from all coyotes. What we should be loving about them is their *wildness*. By not feeding or befriending them, you will be preventing irreversible behaviors from taking hold and helping coexistence to work!