I have done much research over the last few years on coyotes but was unsure if they could swim. There is very little evidence online or in the scientific community on whether coyotes can swim. Then, the other day I saw one crossing a river. So why do coyotes swim? Is it to get to the other side?
Coyotes can swim and are excellent swimmers. However, they prefer to be on land, only going into the water to find prey or escape predators.
I wanted to find out more information about coyotes and their swimming abilities. There is not much information out there, but I have gathered here everything I could find onto one page for you.
Are Coyotes Good Swimmers?
Coyotes are members of the Canidae family, which also includes dogs, wolves, and foxes. The Canidae family can swim with dogs with the correct body types, especially enjoying the activity.
Coyotes share a similar body type as these dogs, with body weight distributed evenly between the head and the rear. They also have a weather-resistant coat in the winter and a large tail, which can act as a rudder to guide them while swimming.
Coyotes have a robust set of paws for swimming, which helps them keep their head high above the water.
Their fur is buoyant to help them keep afloat in the water, with the thickness trapping air. This allows the coyote to stay afloat, not sinking under the weight of their fur. The fur conserves heat, helping to keep them insulated after swimming.
Coyotes can swim and have several adaptations to help them. Coyotes do not fear water and are happy to cross deep rivers.
How far can Coyotes swim?
Coyotes are excellent swimmers and can swim at least 0.8km (0.5 miles). Coyotes swim slowly compared to their speed on land. This is far shorter than the distance wolves can swim. Wolves can swim up to 12km (7.5 miles). This is in part due to their webbed feet.
Do Coyotes Like Water?
Coyotes are comfortable in the water and will not hesitate to wade through icy streams or swim across short stretches of lakes or rivers. Coyotes can often be seen bathing in streams to keep cool during summer. Coyotes can also wash mud from their coats in rivers and streams.
Coyotes will also follow their prey into the water. Coyotes will not let their prey escape due to moisture.
When in danger from predators, coyotes will also enter the water to escape when they feel their predators will not follow them.
Why Do Coyotes Swim?
There are a few reasons why coyotes choose to swim. One reason is that they float to hunt. The population of coyotes is very high in North America. Due to competition for food from other coyotes and animals, they must pursue whatever food is available.
Today, coyotes occupy most of the North American Continent. This has led to changes in the diet of the coyotes. As far back as the 1700s, coyotes rapidly expanded their habitat across North America.
Today, coyotes are found in many cities in the United States and Canada inland and coastal areas. This has led to coyotes adapting to prey on animals and fish found around ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Due to their vast population, coyotes will eat whatever food source is available. Coyotes are highly versatile in their choice but are primarily carnivores. 90% of a coyote’s diet consists of meat.
Due to the high concentration of meat in their diet, coyotes will hunt in and around rivers. A coyote’s diet includes deer, sheep, rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, young water birds, pigeons and doves, amphibians, lizards, snakes, turtles and tortoises, fish, insects, and crustaceans.
Coyotes swim after young water birds while looking for fish and amphibians to feed on. Coyotes do not regularly go after these as their primary food source, but when food is short, these can make up a large portion of their diet.
Coyotes have a wide area for hunting, and water will not hinder them from crossing to another side to search for prey. Coyotes will swim to the other side and continue their hunt.
Coyotes will also swim to escape from predators. Common predators that feed on coyotes include bears, cougars, wolves, mountain lions, eagles, and other coyotes.
Coyotes encounter fierce competition, parasites, and habitat loss in the wild, leading to population control. Humans also pose a threat to coyotes in the hunt for their skins. When a predator attacks a coyote, it will run away. If they encounter a river or a lake, they will swim across to try and escape.
As with dogs, some coyotes seem to like the water, whereas others do not. Coyotes have been known to wait for rivers to freeze before crossing, whereas others have also been seen to use bridges.
Coyotes have also been seen to swim across flooded irrigation ditches to get to a field. Coyotes will cross ponds and marshes to get to ducks and geese wounded by hunters but not cleaned up.
Coyotes can swim and do so out of necessity for food, to escape predators, or get to the other side.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.