Coyotes are one of the most widely distributed mammals in North America. Their range spans from Central and South America to Canada, covering more than 4 million square kilometers. Coyotes are known for their diverse behavior and adaptability, allowing them to survive in numerous habitats across their expansive range. This article will explore the 19 subspecies of coyotes found throughout North America.
Coyote taxonomy is complex, and biologists have attempted to identify its various subspecies correctly. In 1804, French naturalist Frédéric Cuvier placed all North American canids into two genera: Canis (wolves) and Vulpes (foxes). Since then, seven species and several subspecies have been added to this list. Of these new additions, 19 distinct subspecies of coyote were identified based on morphological characteristics such as body size, fur coloration, skull shape, etc.
In recent years, molecular analyses have shed light on the population structure of coyotes within their geographic distribution. Such findings provide important insights into how they evolved and continue interacting with other canid species, including wolves, foxes, and domestic dogs.
With detailed knowledge about coyote populations comes a better understanding of the conservation needs that must be met to ensure their continued survival. Thus it is essential to understand the many subspecies of coyotes living across North America to protect them effectively.
The Plains Coyote (Canis latrans) is one of the 19 subspecies of coyotes found in North America and Central America. It is found mainly in grassland habitats, though it has also adapted to living in urban areas. The Plains Coyote can be identified by its gray-brown fur, narrow muzzle, large ears, and long legs. Its diet consists mostly of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents but may also include insects, eggs, and carrion when available.
The size of a typical adult Plains Coyote ranges from 4–5 feet in body length with an average weight between 15–45 pounds—much smaller than their wolf relatives. They are known for being highly adaptable creatures that live alone or form family groups depending on environmental conditions.
In addition to hunting prey, they will scavenge for food sources left behind by other animals. This species typically breeds once annually during late winter or early spring months, resulting in litters of 5–9 pups per year.
Plains Coyotes have become increasingly prevalent throughout suburban neighborhoods due to human influence on their habitat. As a result, conflicts between humans and these animals tend to occur more frequently, leading to calls for management strategies such as relocation programs or controlled hunts to reduce the population size.
San Pedro Martir Coyote
The San Pedro Martir coyote (C. l. cagottis) is a subspecies of the North American coyote. It derives its name from its range, which primarily spans the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park in northern Baja, California, Mexico. This species differs from other North American coyotes due to its small size and distinct light brown coat coloration.
As with all canines, the San Pedro Martir Coyote requires open space for movement and food sources such as rodents and birds for sustenance. The species also rely on smaller prey items like lizards, snakes, and insects.
Additionally, this desert-dwelling species will feed upon cacti fruits when available. They are most active during dawn and dusk but may be active throughout the day, depending on their environment and the availability of prey items.
Like other coyote subspecies in North America, they have adapted to human development by living close to residential areas while utilizing natural habitats such as deserts and grasslands nearby.
However, San Pedro Martir Coyotes face additional threats from habitat loss caused by urban sprawl near their natural habitats in Mexico. Moreover, hunting threatens these animals despite regulations limiting hunting seasons and off-season bag limits. As a result of these factors, conservation efforts must focus on preserving existing habitats for this vulnerable population of coyotes.
El Salvador Coyote
The El Salvador Coyote, (C. l. dickeyi,) is a subspecies of coyote found in Central America. It has characteristics that distinguish it from other members of the species and make it unique to its region. Its coloration ranges from yellow-gray to light brown, with white fur on the underside of its neck and chest.
The El Salvador Coyote’s head tends to be smaller than other coyotes, and its ears are also shorter. Additionally, this subspecies typically has longer legs than other coyotes, allowing them to travel faster over long distances in search of prey or shelter.
This type of coyote prefers dry habitats such as open grasslands and savannas but can also be found near human settlements where they scavenge for food scraps or hunt small animals like mice.
They prefer to live alone rather than forming packs, as some other coyotes do. Their diet consists mostly of insects, fruit, rodents, birds, lizards, snakes, rabbits, frogs, and occasional carrion when available. This adaptable animal can survive even in areas disturbed by humans, such as agricultural fields and urban centers.
Due to factors such as habitat destruction caused by deforestation along with hunting and road kill mortality rates increasing due to development projects in Central American countries, the population numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 1990s, making conservation measures necessary if we wish to ensure the survival of this particular subspecies into future generations.
The southeastern coyote (C. l. frustor) is one of the nineteen subspecies of the coyote. It can be found in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. This species was first identified by Edward Alphonso Goldman in 1940, who described its characteristics as larger than other subspecies.
The fur coloration for this coyote ranges from gray to yellowish-gray with a white underside and dark markings on its face and tail.
Southeastern coyotes are mainly solitary animals but may form small packs during mating season or when food sources are abundant. They feed primarily on small mammals such as rabbits, rodents, birds, reptiles, and insects, although they will also hunt deer if given the opportunity.
Their range covers much of the southern United States, where they inhabit both rural and urban areas, including forests, swamps, and grasslands.
This species is known to interbreed with domestic dogs, occasionally resulting in hybrid offspring similar to those seen within wolf populations. Conservationists have raised concerns about how it might affect genetic diversity within wild populations.
As apex predators, southeastern coyotes play an important role in controlling smaller predators like foxes while keeping rodent populations under control, thus maintaining balance across ecosystems throughout their range.
The Belize coyote (C. l. goldmani) is a subspecies of the more well-known coyote species. It belongs to the family of mammals called Canidae and is native to Central America, specifically Honduras and Belize.
The Belize coyote has been classified as its distinct subspecies due to its smaller size compared to other members of the same genus and due to physical differences such as longer fur on their back legs than typical coyotes have.
Belize coyotes typically hunt alone or in pairs rather than in packs, as some other related species do. However, they may form larger temporary groups during the migration or when abundant food sources are available.
They tend to eat small mammals like rodents but sometimes supplement their diet with fruits and vegetables if available. Regarding habitat preferences, these animals live in many locations, including grassy areas, forests, and even urban settings.
In addition to being hunted by humans for sport hunting or pest control purposes, the Belize coyote faces habitat loss and fragmentation threats due to human activities such as deforestation, agricultural expansion, and development projects.
As a result of all these factors, it is currently listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Conservation efforts to protect this unique subspecies include establishing protected areas where they live, educating local populations about sustainable land use practices, and raising public awareness about the importance of preserving their habitats.
The Mexican coyote (C. l. cagottis) is a subspecies of the North American plains coyote native to Mexico and Central America, specifically from the Sonora Desert to Nicaragua. It is smaller than its northern counterpart and has longer fur on the upper part of its body. The ears are also relatively large for this species, with an average height of about one foot at their tallest point.
Mexican coyotes have been reported as more aggressive than other subspecies due to human encroachment into their habitats and competition for food resources, particularly in urban areas where they frequently come into contact with humans.
They can tolerate high temperatures but prefer cooler climates when possible and will avoid open space during daylight hours, retreating to caves or burrows underground. In addition, Mexican Coyotes have adapted to hunting small prey like rodents, rabbits, lizards, snakes, and birds while avoiding larger predators such as mountain lions or wolves.
In terms of diet, these animals primarily feed on insects, fruits, and small mammals that they hunt within their territory; however, they are known to scavenge around garbage dumps as well due to a lack of food sources in certain areas. While not considered dangerous by any means, there have been reports of them attacking livestock if desperate enough – which makes it important for farmers in rural regions to remain vigilant against potential predation events from these animals.
The Honduras Coyote (C. l. hondurensis) is a subspecies found in Central America. It has also been recorded within Belize and Guatemala, making it one of nineteen known subspecies of coyotes throughout North and Central America. The Honduran Coyote typically inhabits tropical dry forests and open grasslands or scrubland areas.
Honduras Coyotes have an average body length between 106-122 cm and a tail length of 25–34 cm. They are smaller than other coyote species but larger than foxes that inhabit similar habitats. Additionally, they tend to be more slender and elongated in appearance compared to other coyotes living further north on the continent.
Their fur coats exhibit shades ranging from grey to reddish browns and taupes, depending upon their age and location, much like other members of the Canis latrans genus.
Honduras Coyotes mainly feed on rodents such as deer, mice, and meadow voles; however, they also consume rabbits, skunks, and reptiles when available. Studies suggest this species plays a vital role in controlling rodent populations near human settlements while aiding local ecosystems by promoting biodiversity through natural predation practices.
The Durango Coyote (C. l. impavidus) is a subspecies of the coyote native to Mexico. It is mainly found in the state of Durango and other nearby areas. The Durango Coyote has several distinguishing features from its relatives, including larger size, longer legs, and darker fur on its face and neck. Its diet consists mostly of small mammals such as rabbits and rodents but also fruits, insects, reptiles, birds, and carrion.
Unlike most other coyotes that live primarily in open prairies or grasslands, the Durango Coyotes inhabit dry forests and scrubland with sparse vegetation, which helps them remain hidden while they hunt their prey. They are territorial animals with an average home range of 7 km2 for males and 4 km2 for females. In addition to defending their territory against intruders, Durango Coyotes have been known to form family groups consisting of two adults with up to six pups, working together to provide food for all members.
Durango Coyotes are considered endangered due to habitat loss caused by human activities such as deforestation and agricultural expansion.
Other factors contributing to this species’ decline include hunting pressure from farmers trying to protect livestock, road mortality due to collisions with vehicles traveling at high speeds along highways through their habitats, poisoning from illegal baiting practices aimed at controlling predators near farms or urban areas and competition from non-native predators like dogs or cats released into wild populations by humans.
The northern coyote (C. l. incolatus) is one of the nineteen subspecies of coyotes in North America. It can be found throughout much of Canada and Alaska and parts of the western United States, such as Oregon and Washington. The northern coyote is characterized by its long fur, which helps it survive in cold climates; its coat ranges from gray-brown to yellowish or reddish with a white underbelly.
In terms of size, northern coyotes are generally smaller than other species members due to their adapted diet for cold climates. They typically weigh about 20 pounds but can reach up to 40 lbs when living near human populations where food sources are more abundant.
Northern coyotes tend to feed on small rodents like squirrels and hares, though they will also hunt larger animals if necessary. Additionally, these coyotes have been known to scavenge carrion left behind by wolves or bears.
Northern coyote habitats include open woodlands, coniferous forests, tundra areas, and even agricultural fields, depending on local availability. These adaptable animals can thrive in rural and urban settings; however, they require some form of shelter—such as thickets—for protection against predators and harsh weather conditions.
In recent years, increasing numbers of northern coyotes have become permanent residents within cities across North America due to expanding development and habitat loss elsewhere. This has led to increased interactions between humans and wild animals that must be managed responsibly by all parties involved.
Tiburon Island Coyote
The Tiburon Island coyote (C. l. jamesi) is a subspecies of the northern coyote, and it is primarily found on Tiburon Island in California. It is believed to have diverged from its mainland ancestor around 8,000 years ago due to isolation by rising sea levels. Morphologically speaking, this species has a larger skull size compared to other coyotes. Its fur ranges from greyish black to brownish yellow with a cream-colored underbelly.
The diet of Tiburon Island coyotes mainly consists of small rodents such as mice and voles, but they also consume insects and carrion when available. They are known to hunt in packs and have been observed preying on deer fawns during their breeding season in the springtime.
In addition, these animals exhibit unusually high vocalization rates compared to the rest of their relatives. During the day, they often travel within family groups consisting of one adult male and female and their young cubs.
This species plays an important role in maintaining balance in local ecosystems through predator-prey dynamics; however, human activities still present a major threat to them, including hunting, habitat loss or fragmentation caused by urban development projects, and vehicle collisions while crossing roads.
Conservation efforts must be considered if we want future generations to continue enjoying these magnificent creatures’ presence in our planet’s landscapes and ensure their survival.
The mountain coyote (C. l. lestes) is one of the nineteen subspecies of North American coyotes. It is found in mountainous areas and inhabits elevations between 2,500 to 10,000 feet above sea level. Its range covers parts of northern Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and California, as well as southern Alberta and British Columbia in Canada.
Mountain coyotes are slightly larger than their lowland counterparts, with a longer snout and more heavily furred legs. They tend to be lighter in color than other coyotes due to higher snow cover levels in their habitats during winter.
The mountain coyote diet consists mainly of small rodents such as ground squirrels or chipmunks, but they may also take on large animals, including deer, when food sources become scarce. Various predators inhabit the same environment, including bobcats, cougars, foxes, and bears, so the mountain coyote must remain vigilant.
Their ability to adapt quickly allows them to survive in many climates, from desert scrublands to alpine forests, without needing any significant changes in behavior or habitat use over time.
Unlike tiburon island coyotes which tend to stay closer to coastal wetlands foraging for fish and crustaceans, mountain coyotes have adapted well to life in high elevations where rainfall is less frequent, and temperatures can be extreme.
They make efficient use of available resources by scavenging carrion whenever possible while supplementing their diets with fruits and nuts during the summer months when available. Their superior hearing abilities allow them to detect potential prey items on land and underground, making them formidable hunters despite their relatively modest size compared with larger apex predators encountered within their range.
Mearns’ Coyote (C. l. mearnsi) is a subspecies of the coyote found in parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Sonora, Mexico. It shares its range with five other subspecies of coyotes.
Characteristics that distinguish Mearns’ Coyotes from the others include their larger size; they are considered among the largest coyotes in North America. They have longer legs than average, giving them an overall lankier appearance than other coyotes. Their fur has a distinctive reddish-brown coloration on the dorsal and ventral surfaces and black markings across their faces and backs.
Behavioral adaptations for this particular species also set it apart from other subspecies of coyotes. Unlike other canids, Mearns’ Coyotes tend to live solitary lives or form pair bonds during the breeding season rather than travel in packs like most wolves and foxes do. Additionally, these animals prefer drier habitats, such as deserts or grasslands with sparse vegetation.
Though they will utilize human food sources when available, they largely exist off small mammals such as rabbits or rodents obtained through daily hunting.
Mearns’ Coyotes inhabit an expansive terrain due to their adaptability and opportunistic behavior toward food acquisition. Consequently, this makes them one of nineteen recognized subspecies of Canis latrans in North America today – furthering our understanding of how diverse biological systems can be within species boundaries alone.
Lower Rio Grande Coyote
The Lower Rio Grande Coyote (C. l. microdon), also known as the brush wolf, is a subspecies of coyote found in south Texas and northern Mexico. Due to its wide distribution range, it has adapted to living in more diverse habitats than most other coyotes.
This includes desert scrublands, wooded areas, agricultural land, cities, and suburbs. Its physical characteristics include a reddish-brown coat with small patches of white on the underside of its body, large feet and ears relative to its size, and a long bushy tail that often hangs lower than its back legs when running.
The diet of the Lower Rio Grande Coyote consists mainly of insects such as grasshoppers or beetles, small rodents like mice or voles, birds such as quail or doves, fruits from prickly pear cacti or hackberry trees, carrion from roadkill animals or livestock carcasses, garbage left behind by humans and occasionally larger mammals like deer.
They are generalist predators, which allows them to survive in many different habitats within their range; however, they are not immune to human persecution via trapping and hunting for fur trading purposes.
In addition to predation control measures taken against them by humans, this subspecies can be threatened by habitat destruction caused by urban sprawl or agriculture expansion.
Conservation efforts have been made to protect this species through public education campaigns about coexisting with wildlife safely. To further support these conservation efforts, scientific research has been conducted into their population’s densities across various regions within their range so that appropriate management plans can be developed accordingly.
California Valley Coyote
The California Valley coyote (C. l. ochropus) is a subspecies of the North American coyote found in California’s Central Valley, including the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys. It has been described as having an overall lighter coloration than other coyotes, with fur ranging from gray to reddish-brown or yellowish-gray on its back and sides.
Its legs are often darker, while its muzzle and throat may have white patches. Additionally, it has larger ears than most other coyote subspecies.
The California Valley coyote plays an important role in controlling rodent populations in their habitat and providing food for predators such as raptors and large cats. They also benefit human communities by helping control rabbit populations which can damage crops if left unchecked.
However, they have been known to threaten livestock when given a chance due to their scavenging behavior and size. As a result, some farmers have resorted to hunting them during calving seasons as a preventative measure against predation.
As urbanization continues throughout California’s Central Valley, this subspecies of coyote faces increased threats from humans through loss of habitat and overhunting for sport or out of fear of attacks on livestock or people. Conservation efforts must be made to protect this animal from continuing to play its vital role within the ecosystem while coexisting with human development safely and sustainably.
The Peninsula Coyote (C. l. peninsulae) is one of the nineteen subspecies of coyotes found throughout North and Central America. It is native to California, specifically in the San Francisco Bay Area and Monterey County.
The species was previously thought to be a distinct population or subspecies. Still, recent research suggests it may instead be an intergrade between two other subspecies: Western Coyotes and Sonoran Coyotes.
Peninsula Coyote typically has grayish-brown fur, black legs, white feet, yellow eyes, and pointed ears. They are smaller than their western counterparts at around four to five feet long from nose to tail tip.
Their diet consists mainly of rabbits, rodents, birds, deer fawns, insects, and fruits – similar to most other coyote subspecies. In addition, they also feed on carrion provided by larger predators such as wolves and bears. Like all coyotes, Peninsula Coyotes hunt both during the day and night.
Compared with its relatives across the continent, this particular subspecies has adapted well to living near human settlements due to its ability to scavenge in urban areas for food sources such as garbage or pet food left outdoors.
This adaptation has led some individuals within the species to become habituated toward humans, which can result in conflicts over resources or territory if contact continues unchecked. As such, it is important for people living close to coyotes in these regions to take necessary precautions when interacting with wild animals so that both parties remain safe while coexisting peacefully.
The eastern coyote (C. l. var.) is a distinct subspecies of the North American coyote and is native to much of the northeastern United States. It has been found in states including Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Maryland. The species was first discovered during the 1970s and 1980s when interbreeding between western coyotes and wolves occurred in these areas. This hybridization resulted in a larger body size than previously seen with other coyotes.
Due to its increased size compared to other coyotes, this subspecies is more adept at hunting large game such as deer and moose; however, it also feeds on smaller prey such as rodents. In addition to being effective hunters, they can adapt quickly to new environments, allowing them to thrive even when humans have altered their habitats significantly.
They can live near suburban or urban areas due to their adaptability and ability to scavenge for food items from human sources.
Eastern Coyotes play an important role in maintaining balance within ecosystems through their predation habits by controlling populations of certain animals that may otherwise become overpopulated if left unchecked.
Furthermore, studies suggest that Eastern Coyotes display unique behavior patterns not typically seen in other Coyote subspecies. This could lead to further research into how animals respond differently under varying environmental conditions.
Texas Plain Coyote
The Texas Plain Coyote (C. l. texensis) is a subspecies of the common coyote found in North America. It is distinguished from other coyote populations by unique morphological and behavioral traits, such as larger body size and greater bark-howl vocalizations. This species can be found primarily in west-central Texas, although its range may extend into northern Mexico and southwestern Oklahoma.
At least two distinct forms of this subspecies exist: one that inhabits open plains habitats and another that occupies more densely vegetated riparian zones. The Texas Plain Coyote diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, rodents, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, quail, reptiles, and insects; fruits including prickly pear cactus pads; carrion; and livestock when available. They are also known to scavenge garbage or pet food left outdoors.
The western portion of their range overlaps with the eastern coyote’s habitat, but evidence suggests they do not interbreed due to different social behaviors between the two groups. Studies have shown that the Texas Plain Coyotes tend to hunt singly or in pairs, while eastern coyotes typically form packs for hunting purposes. Additionally, territorial behavior has been observed within individual breeding pairs of the Texan population, unlike their eastern counterparts, which maintain large ranges within family units rather than defending territories against outside individuals or groups.
Northeastern coyotes (C. l. thamnos) are a subspecies found mainly in the Northeastern United States and Canada. This species is similar to other coyote subspecies in physical characteristics such as coloration and size. However, it has some distinctive features that make it stand out from its relatives.
The northeastern coyote’s fur tends to be thicker than most other subspecies, giving it better protection against cold weather conditions. It also tends to have shorter legs and longer snout than other coyotes, enabling them to move more efficiently through thick vegetation in its natural habitat.
Regarding behavior, northeastern coyotes are typically solitary animals but sometimes form small packs or family groups during mating season. They feed on various prey, including rabbits, deer, rodents, and birds.
In addition, they scavenge for carrion when available, and they also supplement their diet by eating fruits and berries. Due to their large range and adaptability, these animals can survive in many habitats ranging from densely forested areas to suburban neighborhoods, where they often conflict with humans over resources like food scraps or pet cats left outdoors at night.
The population of northeastern coyotes has been increasing steadily in recent years due largely to conservation efforts to protect this species’ habitat and responsible management practices implemented by local wildlife officials, which help limit human-coyote interactions.
As a result, sightings of these animals have become increasingly common throughout much of the Northeast, where they now live alongside people in urban and rural environments.
Although still considered an apex predator, northeastern Coyotes remain vulnerable due to ongoing threats posed by development activities that reduce suitable habitat while simultaneously providing additional food sources, enabling larger populations of individuals within any given area and increasing competition for resources.
Northwest Coast Coyote
The northwest coast coyote (C. l. umpquensis) is a subspecies of the North American coyote that lives in western Oregon, Washington, and coastal British Columbia. This species has distinct physical features from other coyotes, such as grayish fur with minimal yellow tones and more heavily developed front teeth. It also tends to be larger than its counterparts, having an average weight between 33-40 pounds.
This breed of coyote typically inhabits woodlands near water sources like rivers and lakes, giving it access to fish, amphibians, and small mammals for food.
They are also known to eat berries and vegetation when available. In addition, they have been observed hunting deer fawns during the spring months. Their primary predators include wolves, cougars, bobcats, and humans who hunt them out of fear or because they threaten livestock animals.
Unlike their eastern counterparts, who can travel far distances alone, the northwest coast coyote prefers traveling in packs within a limited area. Packs tend to consist of family members ranging from two to fifteen adults depending on territory size and the number of prey available in the region. As well as being beneficial for protection, this allows for easier coordination when stalking potential meals among pack members.
The Colima coyote (C. l. vigilis) is a subspecies of the North American gray wolf that inhabits western Mexico. Frequently found in tropical dry forests and scrubland, the Colima coyote has been identified as an endangered species due to its small population size, estimated at fewer than 250 individuals in 2018. This subspecies can be distinguished from other members of the Canis genus by its smaller body size, narrow snout, and short legs.
Colima coyotes have adapted to their habitat through behavioral changes such as increased foraging during cooler periods of the day and traveling farther distances in search of food sources.
They primarily feed on fruits, insects, rodents, and small mammals such as jackrabbits. In addition, they may scavenge carcasses or hunt larger prey like deer when available. As with many wild canine populations worldwide, these subspecies’ main threats are poaching and habitat loss due to urbanization and deforestation.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect this ecologically important species from further decline. These include protection strategies such as enforcing laws against illegal hunting and maintaining suitable habitats within protected areas. Additionally, educational initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of preserving biodiversity may help increase support for conservation measures among local communities living near these ecosystems.
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America. It has evolved into several subspecies, with 19 distinct varieties identified thus far. These include the Plains Coyote, Mexican Coyote, San Pedro Martir Coyote, El Salvador Coyote, Southeastern Coyote, Mearns’ Coyote, Lower Rio Grande Coyote, California Valley Coyote, and Peninsula Coyote.
Each of these subspecies has unique traits that set it apart from the others – for example, physical differences such as size or coat coloration; behavioral patterns like hunting techniques or social organization; vocalizations; and even genetic variations. This diversity among coyotes allows them to adapt quickly to changing environmental conditions and use different food sources in various habitats.
In conclusion, there are 19 recognized subspecies of coyotes based on physical characteristics, behavior patterns, and genetic makeup. Each type is adapted to survive in its respective environment while maintaining a connection with the other populations through gene flow. The ability of this species to evolve rapidly makes it an important part of many ecosystems worldwide and ensures its future success as a species.
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.