Growing Up Wild: Coyote Pups, Part I

If you’re not a cat person, never fear; there are dogs that grow up wild, too! Coyote pups can be found all over Nevada due to their parents’ adaptability and tolerance of the state’s varied habitats.

Don’t go looking for one, though — mom and dad are good at picking out hard-to-find spots to have their puppies, creating multiple entrances to multiple den sites to keep their young safe. Coyote parents are a cute couple, sticking closely together during the months leading up to mating season and remaining monogamous throughout that period, sometimes even mating for life! Once they’ve found a good den, coyotes will have a litter of 2-7 pups (though the number can reach the high teens!) in early spring.

Coyote pups will be fed regurgitated meat as early as 12 days after they’re born. Mom can be fiercely protective and won’t allow dad into the den, so the family initially relies heavily on him for food. At about a month old the pups start to venture out of their dens, which are abandoned by the time they reach 2-3 months. At this point coyote pups start to practice their hunting skills on bugs like crickets, and eventually move to mice a few months later.

As with mountain lions, the critical part of a young coyote’s early life has yet to come. Next time we’ll see some fascinating social behaviors put on display, and one very important choice that has to be made by every adolescent coyote.

 

Aaron Huelsman

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