10 Wily Facts About Coyotes

ArmanWerthPhotography/iStock via Getty Images
ArmanWerthPhotography/iStock via Getty Images

Whether you’ve seen them in cartoons or in your backyard, you’re probably familiar with coyotes. They are one of the most successful and widespread predators in North America, with a range stretching from southern Mexico to Alaska. And even if you’ve never seen one in person, you may have heard their famous howls when they’re hunting after dark.

Coyotes have been depicted as bumbling, desperate, and deceptive—but they’re much more than the stereotypes suggest. The predatory mammals are also agile, smart, and equipped to adapt to environments humans are constantly changing. Here are some more facts about coyotes.

1. Coyotes are resourceful.

The coyote’s adaptable nature has allowed it to thrive in an era when many species have dwindled. It mainly eats small mammals like rodents and rabbits, but it has no trouble making a meal of fruit, grass, insects, carrion, or garbage when it has to. It’s also resourceful: The coyote can build a den from scratch, but it's also been known to take over and enlarge burrows dug by smaller animals like badgers.

2. Coyotes star in many Native American stories.

The coyote’s resourcefulness was first observed by Native Americans. Many tribes across the continent cast the coyote as a central character in their folktales and tell stories of his cunning and perseverance. Though he's often characterized as a trickster, Coyote isn’t necessarily a villain. In some myths, Coyote’s ability to make the most of his circumstances and do whatever it takes to succeed is seen as a reflection of humankind’s own survival instincts.

3. Howls aren't the only sounds coyotes make.

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While the howl is definitely the most recognizable sound they make, coyotes have a wide range of vocalizations in their arsenal. There’s a total of 11 distinct noises the animals use to communicate. Outside of howls used for long-range contact, sounds are either categorized as greetings (whines and yelps) or agnostic (warning barks and alarm vocalizations).

4. Coyotes are solitary animals.

Coyotes are much less likely to hunt in packs than their larger wolf relatives. When going after small mammals, they usually prefer working solo. They make an exception when pursuing larger prey like deer; in such cases, several coyotes will get together and take turns chasing the deer until it gets too tired to run.

5. Mark Twain didn’t paint coyotes in the best light.

In his 1872 book Roughing It, Mark Twain recounts his time in the Wild West. He spends part of the book describing a coyote he saw in his travels, and his harsh depiction of the animal may have contributed to its unsavory reputation today. He characterizes it as a "long, slim, sick and sorry-looking skeleton” in one passage and later calls it "a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry … He is always poor, out of luck and friendless.” Chuck Jones, the animation director behind many Looney Tunes characters, said he used Twain’s writing as inspiration when creating Wile E. Coyote.

6. Coyotes outpace roadrunners.

Wile E. Coyote isn’t the most accurate depiction of the species on television, but the cartoon does get one thing right: Coyotes do occasionally chase roadrunners in pursuit of a meal. But while the Looney Tunes roadrunner is the faster of the two, coyotes outpace the birds in real life. Roadrunners move at 15 to 20 mph, and coyotes can run twice as fast, reaching speeds up to 40 mph.

7. Coyotes can jump great distances.

In addition to being fast runners, coyotes are also excellent jumpers. When jumping horizontally they can clear distances up to 13 feet. They can also jump high in the air, which is bad news for any pet owners hoping their backyard fence will keep their animals safe from the predators.

8. Urban coyotes are on the rise.

Zachary Byer/iStock via Getty Images

Coyotes are often portrayed as wandering through empty deserts, but it’s becoming more common to see them padding down busy urban streets. Cities are appealing habitats for coyotes: The young forests that grow around metro areas attract the same small animals the predators love to eat, and with fewer wolves around thanks to human development, coyotes can dominate new territory without competition. Many consider them a nuisance, but they aren’t going anywhere: When researchers from Utah State University surveyed 105 urban areas in America in 2016, they found that 96 of them have coyote populations.

9. Eastern coyotes are hybrids.

Human development in North America has driven gray wolf populations toward extinction, but the species's downfall has turned into a success story for coyotes. When many ecosystems lost their apex predators, coyotes stepped in to fill the role. Today they extend beyond their original range in the West all the way to the East Coast.

But coyotes in the east aren’t quite the same animals you’d see in the California desert. Genetic samples from eastern populations show that they have a mix of coyote, wolf, and dog genetic material, with the majority of their DNA coming from coyotes. Even after years of interbreeding, these eastern coyotes don’t constitute a new species—so “coywolves” aren’t really a thing.

10. Scientists are studying coyote poop.

As coyotes move into major cities, scientists are looking for new ways to study the species’s impact. One method involves collecting the poop they leave behind. By looking at coyote droppings, researchers can gain a better understanding of the animal’s diet in urban environments and even analyze its DNA. Coyote scat-collecting programs have been implemented in both New York City and Los Angeles.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Amazon
Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $20

Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $18

FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $40

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $69

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $10

LOZACH/Amazon

Embrace your inner sloth and declare your lazy feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

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