Coyotes inhabit all life zones of the Desert Southwest from low valley floors to the crest of the highest mountains, but especially on open plains, grasslands and high mesas. Its natural habitat is open grassland, but it will move to wherever food is available.
Some studies indicate that in the desert, valleys and low foothills, Coyotes occupy a range of no more than 10 or 12 square miles. In mountainous areas they probably have both a summer and winter range, as heavy snows drive them to lower elevations.
Food & Hunting
It travels over its range and hunts both day and night, running swiftly and catching its prey easily. It has a varied diet and seems able to exist on whatever the area offers in the way of food. The Coyote eats meat and fish, either fresh or spoiled, and at times it eats fruits and vegetable matter and has even been known to raid melon patches.
Although the Coyote has been observed killing sheep, poultry and other livestock, it does not subsist on domestic animals. Food habit studies reveal that its principle diet is composed of deer, rabbits, ground squirrels, other small rodents, insects, even reptiles, and fruits and berries of wild plants.
The Coyote is an opportunistic predator that uses a variety of hunting techniques to catch small mammals likes rabbits and squirrels, which comprise the bulk of its diet. Although it hunts alone to catch small prey, it may join with others in to hunt larger mammals like young deer or a pony.
The Coyote often tracks its prey using its excellent sense of smell, then stalk it for 20-30 minutes before pouncing. It may also take advantage of its stamina to chase its prey over long distances, and then striking when the quarry is exhausted.
At the beginning of the mating season in January, several lone male Coyotes may gather around a female to court her, but she will form a relationship with only one of them. The male and female desert Coyote may travel together before mating in January or February.
The female bears one litter of 3 to 9 puppies a year, usually in April or May when food is abundant. The gestation period is from 63 to 65 days.
The pups are born blind in a natal den, but their eyes open after about 14 days and they emerge from the den a few days later. They suckle for 5 to 7 weeks, and start eating semi-solid food after 3 weeks. While the male helps support the family with regurgitated food, the mother does not allow him to come all the way into the den.
The pups live and play in the den until they are 6 to 10 weeks old, when the mother starts taking them out hunting in a group. The family gradually disbands, and by fall the pups are usually hunting alone. Within a year, they go their own way, staking out their own territory, marked with the scent of their urine.