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.

Coyote in the snow howling.
JohnPitcher/iStock via Getty Images

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.

Coyote on suburban street.
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.

12 Good Ol' Facts About The Dukes of Hazzard

Getty Images
Getty Images

When The Dukes of Hazzard premiered on January 26, 1979, it was intended to be a temporary patch in CBS’s primetime schedule until The Incredible Hulk returned. Only nine episodes were ordered, and few executives at the network had any expectation that the series—about two amiable brothers at odds with the corrupt law enforcement of Hazzard County—would become both a ratings powerhouse and a merchandising bonanza. Check out some of these lesser-known facts about the Duke boys, their extended family, and the gravity-defying General Lee.

1. CBS's chairman hated The Dukes of Hazzard.

CBS chairman William Paley never quite bought into the idea of spinning his opinion to match the company line. Having built CBS from a radio station to one of the “Big Three” television networks, he had harvested talent as diverse as Norman Lear and Lucille Ball, a marked contrast to the Southern-fried humor of The Dukes of Hazzard. In his 80s when it became a top 10 series and seeing no reason to censor himself, Paley repeatedly and publicly described the show as “lousy.”

2. The Dukes of Hazzard's General Lee got 35,000 fan letters a month.


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While John Schneider and Tom Wopat were the ostensible stars of the show, both the actors and the show's producers quickly found out that the main attraction was the 1969 Dodge Charger—dubbed the General Lee—that trafficked brothers Bo and Luke Duke from one caper to another. Of the 60,000 letters the series was receiving every month in 1981, 35,000 wanted more information on or pictures of the car.

3. Dennis Quaid wanted to be The Dukes of Hazzard's Luke Duke—on one condition.

When the show began casting in 1978, producers threw out a wide net searching for the leads. Dennis Quaid was among those interested in the role of Luke Duke—which eventually went to Wopat—but he had a condition: he would only agree to the show if his then-wife, P.J. Soles, was cast at the Dukes’ cousin, Daisy. Soles wasn’t a proper fit for the supporting part, which put Quaid off; Catherine Bach was eventually cast as Daisy.

4. John Schneider pretended to be a redneck for his Dukes of Hazzard audition.

New York native Schneider was only 18 years old when he went in to read for the role of Bo Duke. The problem: producers wanted someone 24 to 30 years old. Schneider lied about his age and passed himself off as a Southern archetype, strutting in wearing a cowboy hat, drinking a beer, and spitting tobacco. He also told them he could do stunt driving. It was a good enough performance to land him the show.

5. The Dukes of Hazzard co-stars John Schneider and Tom Wopat met while taking a poop.

After Schneider was cast, the show needed to locate an actor who could complement Bo. Stage actor Wopat was flown in for a screen test; Schneider happened to be in the bathroom when Wopat walked in after him. The two began talking about music—Schneider had seen a guitar under the stall door—and found they had an easy camaraderie. After flushing, the two did a scene. Wopat was hired immediately.

6. Daisy's Dukes needed a tweak on The Dukes of Hazzard.

Bach’s omnipresent jean shorts were such a hit that any kind of cutoffs quickly became known as “Daisy Dukes,” after her character. But they were so skimpy that the network was concerned censors wouldn’t allow them. A negotiation began, and it was eventually decided that Bach would wear some extremely sheer pantyhose to make sure there were no clothing malfunctions.

7. Nancy Reagan was fan of The Dukes of Hazzard's Daisy.

Shirley Moore, Bach’s former grade school teacher, went on to work in the White House. After Bach sent her a poster, she was surprised to hear back that then-First Lady Nancy Reagan was enamored with it. “I’m the envy of the White House and I’m having your poster framed,” Moore wrote in a letter. “Mrs. Reagan saw the picture and fell in love with it.” Bach sent more posters, which presumably became part of the decor during the Reagan administration.

8. The Dukes of Hazzard's stars had some very bizarre contract demands.

Wopat and Schneider famously walked off the series in 1982 after demanding a cut of the show’s massive merchandising revenue—which was, by one estimate, more than $190 million in 1981 alone. They were replaced with Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer, “cousins” of the Duke boys, who were reviled by fans for being scabs. The two leads eventually came back, but it wasn’t the only time Warner Bros. had to deal with irate actors. James Best, who portrayed crooked sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane, refused to film five episodes because he had no private dressing room in which to change his clothes; the production just hosed him down when he got dirty. Ben Jones, who played “Cooter” the mechanic, briefly left because he wanted his character to sport a beard and producers preferred he be clean-shaven.

9. A miniature car was used for some stunts in The Dukes of Hazzard.

As established, the General Lee was a primary attraction for viewers of the series. For years, the show wrecked dozens of Chargers by jumping, crashing, and otherwise abusing them, which created some terrific footage. For its seventh and final season in 1985, the show turned to a miniature effects team in an effort to save on production costs: it was cheaper to mangle a Hot Wheels-sized model than the real thing. “It was a source of embarrassment to all of us on the show,” Wopat told E!.

10. The Dukes of Hazzard's famous "hood slide" was an accident.

A staple—and, eventually, cliché—of action films everywhere, the slide over the hood was popularized by Tom Wopat. While it may have been tempting to take credit, Wopat said it was unintentional and that the first time he tried clearing the hood, the car’s antenna wound up injuring him.

11. The Dukes of Hazzard cartoon went international.


YouTube

Warner Bros. capitalized on the show’s phenomenal popularity with an animated series, The Dukes, which was produced by Hanna-Barbera and aired in 1983. Taking advantage of the form, the Duke boys traveled internationally, racing Boss Hogg through Greece or Hong Kong. Perhaps owing to the fact that the live-action series was already considered enough of a cartoon, the animated series only lasted 20 episodes.

12. In 2015, Warner Bros. banned the Confederate flag from The Dukes of Hazzard merchandising.

At the time the series originally aired, little was made of the General Lee sporting a Confederate flag on its hood. In 2015, after then-South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley spoke out against the depiction of the flag in popular culture, Warner Bros. elected to stop licensing products with the original roof. The company announced that all future Dukes merchandise would drop the design element. Schneider disagreed with the decision, telling The Hollywood Reporter, “Is the flag used as such in other applications? Yes, but certainly not on the Dukes ... Labeling anyone who has the flag a ‘racist’ seems unfair to those who are clearly ‘never meanin’ no harm.'”

10 Fascinating Facts About Chinese New Year

iStock.com/aluxum
iStock.com/aluxum

Some celebrants call it the Spring Festival, a stretch of time that signals the progression of the lunisolar Chinese calendar; others know it as the Chinese New Year. For a 15-day period beginning January 25 in 2020, China will welcome the Year of the Rat, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac table.

Sound unfamiliar? No need to worry: Check out 10 facts about how one-sixth of the world's total population rings in the new year.

1. Chinese New Year was originally meant to scare off a monster.

Nian at Chinese New Year
iStock.com/jjMiller11

As legend would have it, many of the trademarks of the Chinese New Year are rooted in an ancient fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. Acting on the advice of a wise old sage, the townspeople used loud noises from drums, fireworks, and the color red to scare him off—all remain components of the celebration today.

2. A lot of families use Chinese New Year as motivation to clean the house.

woman ready to clean a home
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While the methods of honoring the Chinese New Year have varied over the years, it originally began as an opportunity for households to cleanse their quarters of "huiqi," or the breaths of those that lingered in the area. Families performed meticulous cleaning rituals to honor deities that they believed would pay them visits. The holiday is still used as a time to get cleaning supplies out, although the work is supposed to be done before it officially begins.

3. Chinese New Year will prompt billions of trips.

Man waiting for a train.
iStock.com/MongkolChuewong

Because the Chinese New Year places emphasis on family ties, hundreds of millions of people will use the Lunar period to make the trip home. Accounting for cars, trains, planes, and other methods of transport, the holiday is estimated to prompt nearly three billion trips over the 15-day timeframe.

4. Chinese New Year involves a lot of superstitions.

Colorful pills and medications
iStock.com/FotografiaBasica

While not all revelers subscribe to embedded beliefs about what not to do during the Chinese New Year, others try their best to observe some very particular prohibitions. Visiting a hospital or taking medicine is believed to invite ill health; lending or borrowing money will promote debt; crying children can bring about bad luck.

5. Some people rent boyfriends or girlfriends for Chinese New Year to soothe their parents.

Young Asian couple smiling
iStock.com/RichVintage

In China, it's sometimes frowned upon to remain single as you enter your thirties. When singles return home to visit their parents, some will opt to hire a person to pose as their significant other in order to make it appear like they're in a relationship and avoid parental scolding. Rent-a-boyfriends or girlfriends can get an average of $145 a day.

6. Red envelopes are everywhere during Chinese New Year.

a person accepting a red envelope
iStock.com/Creative-Family

An often-observed tradition during Spring Festival is to give gifts of red envelopes containing money. (The color red symbolizes energy and fortune.) New bills are expected; old, wrinkled cash is a sign of laziness. People sometimes walk around with cash-stuffed envelopes in case they run into someone they need to give a gift to. If someone offers you an envelope, it's best to accept it with both hands and open it in private.

7. Chinese New Year can create record levels of smog.

fireworks over Beijing's Forbidden City
iStock.com/lusea

Fireworks are a staple of Spring Festival in China, but there's more danger associated with the tradition than explosive mishaps. Cities like Beijing can experience a 15-fold increase in particulate pollution. In 2016, Shanghai banned the lighting of fireworks within the metropolitan area.

8. Black clothes are a bad omen during Chinese New Year.

toddler dressed up for Chinese New Year
iStock.com/lusea

So are white clothes. In China, both black and white apparel is traditionally associated with mourning and are to be avoided during the Lunar month. The red, colorful clothes favored for the holiday symbolize good fortune.

9. Chinese New Year leads to planes being stuffed full of cherries.

Bowl of cherries
iStock.com/CatLane

Cherries are such a popular food during the Festival that suppliers need to go to extremes in order to meet demand. In 2017, Singapore Airlines flew four chartered jets to Southeast and North Asian areas. More than 300 tons were being delivered in time for the festivities.

10. Panda Express is hoping Chinese New Year will catch on in America.

Box of takeout Chinese food from Panda Express
domandtrey, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Although their Chinese food menu runs more along the lines of Americanized fare, the franchise Panda Express is still hoping the U.S. will get more involved in the festival. The chain is promoting the holiday in its locations by running ad spots and giving away a red envelope containing a gift: a coupon for free food. Aside from a boost in business, Panda Express hopes to raise awareness about the popular holiday in North America.

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