The scientific name for coyotes, Canis latrans, means "barking dog", which describes coyotes' staccato yips. Colored brown with gray and black flecks, coyotes grow to have a body length of approximately ninety centimeters (three feet) and can attain speeds of sixty-five kilometers per hour (forty miles per hour). Coyotes can adapt to many environmental situations and eat a variety of foods, including vegetables and insects. Although they tend to hunt alone, mostly at night, coyotes sometimes cooperate to kill a large animal such as an elk. Unafraid of people, coyotes often can be found in suburbs. The western coyote lives in western North America, from Panama to Alaska. The eastern coyote, considered a subspecies of the western coyote who probably mated with wolves, is larger than the western coyote and has darker fur. Coyotes use abandoned dens to raise their pups, ranging fromsix to ten per litter. Born blind, the pups rely on their mother for milk at first, then eat food regurgitated by their parents before they are able to chew and hunt on their own. Most pups leave their parents by age one and start their own families, while other pups remain in the den to assist their parents to raise their siblings and learn parenting skills. The average coyote is fully mature by age two. Scientists believe that coyotes mate for life. The Canis species can breed with each other and produce fertile offspring known as hybrids. Some people raise coydogs, a combination of coyotes and domestic dogs, while others, especially Eskimos, prefer wolf-dog genetic crosses, which result in strong animals capable of withstanding extreme climatic conditions and pulling heavy loads.
Geographical location: Coyotes live only in North and Central America
Habitat: Mostly prairies, forests, and mountains
Gestational period: Approximately two months
Life span: Ranges from an average of eight to twelve years, longer in captivity
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