If we were Aztecs, we would call this animal "divine dog". The Latin name was transformed as "barking dog". And contemporaries call it differently - "meadow wolf", "red dog", "red wolf" or "coyote". What kind of animal is this for which people have spared so many names?
Coyote is a mammal that belongs to predators. These animals belong to the canine family. Outwardly, red wolves are similar to ordinary wolves, but smaller. It can even be said that the largest coyote is smaller than the most unprepossessing and smallest adult of ordinary wolves. The maximum body length of an adult coyote does not exceed 100 cm, the tail does not grow longer than 30 cm, the animal is about 50 cm at the withers. Well, the weight ranges from 7 kg (minimum weight) to 21 kg (maximum). An adult common wolf, with which we compared the meadow fellow, has a minimum weight of 32 kg, and large individuals can reach up to 60 kg.
The prairie wolf has erect ears, and its tail can be called fluffy. The fur is quite thick and long, brown in color, with black and gray patches. The color of the fur on the belly is much lighter. The shape of the muzzle is elongated-pointed, more reminiscent of a fox than a wolf. The tip of the tail is covered with blackhairs.
Where coyotes live
Coyotes are typical inhabitants of the American plains. They are distributed throughout North America and are found in 49 US states, Canada, and Mexico. The North American prairie wolf bred heavily during the Gold Rush. Together with prospectors, this animal actively developed new territories, not shunning any prey.
Red wolves are inhabitants of open areas. They inhabit prairies and deserts; they are extremely rare in forest areas. Coyotes live not only in deserted places, but also on the outskirts of large cities.
In food, the American prairie wolf is picky. This animal is considered an omnivore, but the main diet is the meat of hares, rabbits, dogs, ground squirrels and marmots. Any smaller animal, including birds, insects and various aquatic creatures, can be the main dish of a hungry animal. And since coyotes often live near cities and towns, they can hunt domestic animals, although they do this infrequently.
Coyotes rarely attack humans. But the dumps that accompany human settlements are very attractive to them.
How a coyote hunts
The prairie wolf prefers to hunt alone or in pairs. But for hunting big game it can unite in packs. In this case, the roles are distributed, like wolves. There are several beaters leading the game to the flock or exhausting it with a long pursuit.
Sometimes coyotes hunt with badgers.This is a very successful combination, since the badger breaks holes in which potential prey lives or hides, and the coyote easily catches up and kills it. Coyotes are very mobile, fast and jump well. They have a good sense of smell and excellent eyesight.
Adult animals have their own hunting grounds. The center of this territory is the lair of a predator. Site boundaries are regularly marked with urine.
Coyotes howl often and loudly. In this way, animals communicate with each other, convene a flock for hunting, inform their fellow tribesmen that they are in a foreign territory, and call a female. At night, in the American prairies, the howl sounds almost constantly, scaring off uninvited guests. Experts are trying to decipher and systematize sound messages in order to better understand the animals they are watching.
These predators mostly live in pairs. But there are singles and family groups. The prairie wolf of America forms packs in places where there is a high number of animals and abundant food supplies. A flock is 5-6 individuals, two of which are parents, and the rest are their young.
Another reason for grouping is the lack of small game. In this case, the purpose of the pack is to hunt large animals that the coyote alone cannot cope with.
Measurement pairs in meadow wolves are permanent. They live side by side for many years, without being distracted by other partners. Most often, a couple stays together for life.
Mating takes place in winter, between January and February. Female coyotes are very fertile.There can be from 5 to 19 puppies in a brood. The gestation period is approximately 3 months. Births take place in the main family den, but each couple has a few spare shelters. These holes or crevices are used in case of danger. The male takes care of the female and cubs, he gets food and guards the dwelling. The meadow wolf is a caring parent. He is engaged in raising puppies on a par with his mother. Grown up males go into independent life, and females can stay with their parents.
In the wild, coyotes can live for more than ten years, and in captivity their lifespan is even longer. Some couples in zoos survived for 15-16 years.
Myths and legends
The red wolf, the photo and description of which was presented to your attention, is a character in the myths of many Indian tribes in North America. This is a playful and mischievous character who does little dirty tricks not to harm, but simply because it's fun. Such characters are called tricksters, that is, gods-deceivers, or anti-heroes who cannot bear responsibility for their pranks.
Among some Indian tribes, the meadow wolf is a god who patronizes hunters, warriors and lovers. The Indians considered this deity a great sorcerer. And some tribes have preserved myths that the “divine dog” during the game accidentally created people from mud and its blood. The Indians of North America did not hunt coyotes because they considered them totem animals.