How Much Rain Do You Think A Coyote’s Coat Can Hold?

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Answer: In the winter, lots! Certainly more than your own soaked coat and jeans, and more than your 30-pound dog’s coat unless it’s got longer fur than the coyote’s. From the looks of it, I’m supposing you could water two small potted plants for a week if you could only transplant the coyote as a sprinkler to your yard!

Coyote coats serve to insulate them against the elements.  And the coats are fantastically camouflaged, helping them to blend into the landscape, especially during the dryer months. The coats aren’t large — they only cover scrawny, 30-pound frames, but the fur is long, reaching four-to-five inches in the winter. These coats are wonderfully crinkly and puffy, making coyotes look bigger than they actually are.

Their full coats will be shed in the springtime, at which time you can often see their ribs and hip bones poking up and visible through their skin. Their new coats will begin coming in sometime during late summer.

Shaking the rain off not only lightens the load — water is heavy — but it also serves to loosen some of the grime which has accumulated. Shaking also helps take care of the drip getting into their eyes. Oils and an undercoat prolong the time a coyote can stay dry in a downpour.

Coyotes are usually out, rain or shine, sometimes just to survey their territories and look around. Burrowing rodents must often come to the surface to keep from drowning during heavy rains, and coyotes often take advantage of this for hunting sprees.

An Exuberant and High-Energy Pre-Dawn Play Session

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Coyotes, like we humans, go through mood swings, as can be seen by their behaviors. On this particular morning, this young coyote was in a very happy mood, and showed this by racing around wildly in circles — it was a spurt of sheer joy and energy.

Then, a clod of dirt was energetically and excitedly dug up and tossed into the air. It became a toy which was chased, and jumped after any number of times.

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And then a plastic water-bottle was found:  It cracked and crackled loudly when it was (warily and distrustingly at first) pounced on or bitten, rubbed on or stepped on. The coyote seemed to love producing the sharp sounds.

When coyotes find themselves alone, they often play and entertain themselves, and often they use found objects as toys. This young coyote is one of the loners in the city who has not yet claimed a territory nor found a mate.

[Note that it was before dawn when I observed this and took the photos. I’m surprised my camera even caught these images in the dark. I was able to increase the exposure once I got home, so you actually can see what is going on!]

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In The ‘Hood: Confused, Scared and a Little Lost

walking down the middle of the street

walking down the middle of the street in San Francisco

Some of our coyotes are dispersing right now as their parents prepare for the next breeding season. Usually between the ages of 1-3, coyotes disperse: they leave their birth homes to make their own way in the world. A coyote may be forced to leave by a sibling or parents, or it may leave on its own. As they explore new areas where they have not been before, you might see one — hurrying through a neighborhood, either down a street or on the sidewalks. They stick to these passageways because coyotes, just like humans, like taking the *path of least resistance*. When they find a place with adequate natural cover, they might try it out as a place to take refuge for a while.

on the sidewalks

on the sidewalks in the heart of San Francisco

They may live for the time-being without a territory and alone. Recently dispersed coyotes tend to live in smaller open spaces, and in-between and on the edges of other coyotes’ claimed territories, and they are not territorial. These individuals are called transients or interlopers. Transients include not only dispersed youngsters, but others who have been displaced from a family — even oldsters! Being social animals, they may get lonely and may at times seek out the company or achieve a mutual *truce* with amenable dogs although they are usually not quite willing to let down their guard totally to become friends.

traversing the neighborhood

traversing a San Francisco neighborhood

Please do not befriend them, and never feed them. As consummate hunters and opportunistic eaters, they are totally able to provide for themselves. Please let them do this. Instead of being friendly, give them the cold-shoulder. They will be safer and so will your pets if you keep this psychological barrier in-place.

And please remember that, *a fed coyote is a dead coyote* — this has become a saying everyone should know. Food conditioning, which results from feeding them, causes coyotes to hang around humans, and sometimes approach and demand food. Wild animals normally defend themselves from fright, a startle, or anything else by nipping, and they will do so if provoked, even if you don’t think you are provoking them.

In alleyways

In alleyways

They will, of course, continue looking for a territory which has not already been claimed by another coyote family, or one that has been vacated for a number of reasons by another family.

Note that, once the carrying capacity of an area is filled, such as in San Francisco, coyotes move out of the city and south, where they have been found as far away as 60 miles within just a week or so. Dispersion is a high-risk time when more coyotes than usual are killed by cars. Please be careful when you drive.

finally, in a natural open space where there is hard orange for her to hide in

finally, she comes to a natural open space where there is natural coverage for her to hide in. San Francisco has plenty of these small havens.

Coyote Uses Her Wits To Escape From A Dog

In this video, a coyote who begins her evening trekking routine, is spotted by a dog and harassed. After sprinting to escape him, she uses her wits to avoid a face-to-face confrontation. Although the dog may look as though he’s close to the coyote’s size, the dog easily outweighs her in heft by about double.

I have read where, to escape from pursuing wolves (which weigh two to three times as much as a coyote), coyotes will run up and down hills. A coyote is light, so running up a hill doesn’t take nearly as much effort for them as for a wolf. The wolf, who needs to expend much more energy going up the hill, wears out quickly and soon gives up the chase. Coyotes are able to figure this out and use hills strategically for their advantage.

Please also note that, although the coyote was able to wear out the dog totally, it also was exhausting for the coyote. She collapsed in the grass for a long time in order to recover. This amounts to harassment of wildlife and is actually illegal. Please don’t allow your dogs to chase our urban coyotes!.

No Need to Get Up to Howl


Sirens sounded, HE responded in the distance, and then SHE (depicted here) responded to him. She had been napping and apparently she wasn’t ready to get up, so she didn’t. Hers are the high pitched, smooth vocalizations nearby in the foreground; his are the lower pitched barks in the background. She lay her head down and went back to sleep when she was through vocalizing.

Citizen Coyote: Let’s Get To Know Them: An Introduction

The English version of our coyote informational video aimed specifically at younger people and classroom use — but wholly interesting and fun for all ages — is up and running! The Spanish version was posted last week, so students who really want to learn about coyotes AND improve their language skills, may now toggle between the two videos. There are slight differences between the two, which will make working between them a bit more interesting. As with the other informational videos I’ve put out, this one is based primarily on my first-hand observations here in San Francisco, and corroborated by research and by other experts in the field.

Again, we encourage EVERYONE, student or not, youth or not, to create the projects suggested at the end of the video to share with others. The more people we can reach by sharing this information, the better it will be for all concerned: people, pets, coyotes. The end result will be a win-win-win situation without any losers!

The English version was narrated by my neighbor, Stephanie Shmunes, who, you’ll see, did a great job!

 

Another Howling-at-Sirens — A Surprise!


Coyotes often howl at sirens. So, I listened for howling after hearing a siren, and indeed I DID hear howling. It was an incredibly *little* sound, without quite the force and reach of a coyote’s howl, but, nevertheless, it was a true howl. Enjoy!

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