At first glance at coyotes, you may think they’re wolves. But then again, they are smaller than normal wolves. Though sometimes, people do call them prairie wolves, aka brush wolves. At other times, if you hear a coyote’s call from afar, you may mistake them for dogs. In fact, baby coyotes are called pups. And like dogs, a group of coyote pups is called litters or bands. Yet, with a closer look at their habit, you’d later realize that they aren’t dogs for many reasons that this article will reveal. But despite those wide differences between coyotes, dogs, and wolves, people still get them confused. And reasonably so.
So, in this write-up, we’ll carefully dissect the differences between coyotes, wolves, and dogs. To make things very clear, we have decided to use some questions tags. So, what really are coyotes? What kind of call sounds can they make? Do coyotes bark like dogs or scream? Or perhaps, do coyotes prefer to howl like wolves? Do your best to read along because the answers you seek definitely lie therein.
Are Coyotes in the Dog Family?
Like wolves, coyotes are also in the dog family. Because like dogs and wolves, they often communicate with a distinctive call. This call, during nighttime, can develop into a raucous canine chorus. But then, coyotes are much smaller and more lightly built than wolves. Compared to domesticated dogs, coyotes are much sleeker. Also, they have a more pointed snout and a flatter forehead than dogs. On the flip side, domesticated dogs tend to always have deeper chests.
Aside from structural differences, coyotes and dogs differ in terms of habits for many reasons. For one, coyotes, unlike the primarily carnivorous dogs, are very adaptable omnivores that will eat almost anything edible. From rabbits and rodents to fish, frogs, and even deer, anything goes for coyotes. Sometimes they can even go as far as killing lambs, calves, pets, and other livestock with their keen vision, a strong sense of smell, and agility.
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What Are Coyotes Scared of?
A rule of thumb in the animal kingdom is that; to every animal, there is a predator even if the only ones that can overpower it are the decomposing fungi that’ll eat the remains. For coyotes, you don’t even need to get that far to find other animals that can prey on them. So, naturally, coyotes are afraid of the things that can kill them, and a couple of other things at that.
Summarily, coyotes have innate fear for humans, sharp objects directed at them, loud noisemakers like radios and other sounds, bright lights, and of course, predator urine. Other common coyote predators aside from humans include bears and wolves. With all the objects and predators mentioned above, you can ward coyotes off your property.
So, when you see a coyote, you can easily do the following. But first, don’t panic; it’s a golden rule.
- Then, do not run away.
- Do not play the victim if you can help it.
- Shout or throw something like a sharp stick in its direction.
- Repellents like predator’s urine or fencing may help.
- Try not to create conflict where it does not exist.
Can Coyotes Attack Dogs?
Now, if coyotes often attack pets, and dogs are one of man’s favorite pets, it’s reasonable to ask; can coyotes attack and eat dogs? Sadly, yes; there is a probability that a coyote can attack your dog. The good news, however, is that such an event is fairly rare, especially if the dog is big. If the dog is small, it may likely die when a coyote attacks. But experts explained that the less attack on big dogs is because coyotes are more likely to perceive them as competitors rather than prey.
According to the stats, dogs are actually in far more danger from an attack by another domestic dog compared with the threat a coyote poses to them. Other pets like cats and livestock like lamb, however, aren’t so lucky. As such, many ranchers often regard coyotes as aggressive destructive pests that should be eliminated at all costs. This is not only because they are very savvy but also because they’re clever beasts.
In fact, modern coyotes have been diagnosed with extreme cleverness by their adaptation to the changing American landscape. These wild critters have even colonized cities like Los Angeles. And currently, they are found over most of North America with a likely all-time high population. But that’s not all. Coyotes can also happily dine on insects, fruits, snakes, carrion, and grass. So, to crop farmers; a coyote infestation is also bad news.
READ MORE: Can You Own A Coyote?
Do Dogs Mate with Coyotes?
We earlier pointed out that coyotes, wolves, and dogs belong to the same family. The truth is, the trio are related even down to the genus level but different species. In biology classes, species are the most likely group that can interbreed to give viable offspring. Somehow, dogs, coyotes, and wolves can mate and produce fertile pups. Although mating between coyotes and dogs is a rare thing to behold. That, of course, does not mean it’s impossible. And occasionally it happens to produce hybrid coydogs.
However, the chance of coyotes and dogs mating in the wild is very slim. This is major because of the differences in the mating seasons. Then again, coyotes, unlike dogs, continue to mate for life. Their males and females jointly raise the pups, unlike dogs. Still, this once again proves that coyotes do not always see dogs as food or even for that matter, as threats.
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What Kind of Sound Does a Coyote Make?
Animals have their own communication techniques grouped into 4 major classes. Namely, they include visual, tactile, auditory, and chemical means.
As for coyotes, auditory and tactile or bodily signals are their specialty. When they communicate with other animals, coyotes prefer to use body signs. If the message is to be passed to their own species, coyotes often take to special call sounds. These sounds can include howling, yipping, yapping, whining, and even, barking.
Yes! You heard that right; barking. And there’s even a high chance that in the middle of the night, you have heard their howls and barks. Oftentimes, we interpret these sounds to be those from a pack of dogs not so far from our homes. But then, these noises could have actually been those of coyotes communicating with one another in 11 different vocalizations. Now, because of this complex vocalisation language, coyotes are often regarded as Song Dogs and one of the most vocal wildlings in North America.
In fact, coyotes often tend to howl, yip and yap when they hear sirens. This is because sirens have high-pitch with a series of overlapping sounds. As such, coyotes tend to react to the sound like they would answer other coyotes. Honestly, the reason for this is still obscure. But then, we believe that the idea of singing along and responding still works for now. To the big question then;
Do Coyotes Bark Like Dogs?
Coyotes are mostly active at night and live in packs of about 7 – 9 individuals. When they hunt, they try to cover more grounds by spreading out. This strategy is precisely why vocal comms are so vital amongst them, and we often hear this as an all-night howl. But while a high-pitched howl is a coyote thing, they also tend to bark like dogs to relay specific messages. What message, for now, we don’t know.
What we do know for a fact is that their Latin name, Canis latrans, means “barking dogs.” But unlike dogs, their wide range of vocalizations depends on many things like the social context, the message, their body language, and the intensity of their vocalization.
Not only that, Coyotes Pups Bark Like Dogs too. You see, from the 11 different vocalizations of coyotes, barking is a puppy specialty. They do this if they are alone. If they are with their mothers, coyote puppies will probably only yip or whine.
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What Does It Mean When a Coyote Is Barking?
The research into the meanings of the complex sound patterns in coyotes is still ongoing. So, there is much we still don’t know. But then again, many experts seem to agree on 3 fundamental reasons why a Coyote would use its vocal language. According to them, coyotes either bark, howl, yips, or yaps to alert their packs, to greet one of theirs, or perhaps, to establish a contact.
Not only that, but experts also seem to agree that each message is different and particular to each coyote. Thus, it is often decoded according to the duration of each animal. But generally, barking comes with the first category of message relay; alert. That means, coyotes often bark to warn their pack of some kind of long-range danger or intruder. When the others hear this, they are most likely to enter the den-defense mode. They do this with the hopes of averting the danger or chasing off the intruder.
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Do Coyotes Howl Like Wolves?
You see, for the coyote-barks to be effective, usually, the packs must not be so far apart. This is because their barks operate at a lower frequency than the howls. So, sometimes when they bark, they immediately follow it up with coyote howls. These howls are similar to that of wolves but more high-pitched. When they use it, a howl represents a more imminent danger.
Since coyotes are nocturnal, they howl mostly at night and twilight hours. However, several interactions and contact between coyotes and humans have made it a bit of a routine for them to howl during the day too.
At night during hunting periods, coyotes, despite living in large packs, can only hunt either solo, in pairs, or in small groups. Because of this, they often get separated for up to 10 kilometers. But whenever they spread out or reunite, they tend to howl as a group. Of course, they do this to show strength in their numbers and to locate one another.
Now, just like humans, coyotes have unique intonations, recognizable amongst others. So, their howl is like a trademark that’s distinct from those of any other animals, including dogs and wolves. Because you see, when coyotes howl, they produce a very special effect called the beau geste.
This beau geste (meaning beautiful gesture) is merely an auditory illusion that combines different distorted sounds and tones. As such, it sounds like a chorus produced by a pack of coyotes howling simultaneously. Whereas, it’s coming from only one coyote. The reason they do this is to intimidate other animals, definitely!
Coyote Vocalizations and What They Mean
Ah…we’ve said enough. So, here’s a synoptic list of coyote sounds and their meaning:
- Growl – to threaten something within close range.
- Huff – for close range, high-intensity threat.
- Woof – for both low-intensity threats and as an alarm.
- Bark – for mildly long-distance threats
- Bark-howl – for serious threats, long-distance high-intensity threat or alarm.
- Whine – express submission by subordinate coyotes
- .Yelp – to represent high-intensity submission.
- Woo-oo-wow – for showing high-intensity greeting displays.
- Lone Howl – often started with barks to distinguish individuals.
- Group Howl – started by two or more coyotes for giving out location information to any listeners.
Can Coyotes Sound Like a Screaming Woman?
In some cases, coyotes also tend to scream out a distress signal. This kind of sound call happens when they’re injured. But unfortunately, this sound can be unsettling for us humans to hear at night. And that is because oftentimes when people report this sound, they say it seems like a woman screaming. Whereas, it’s a coyote in distress. We guess that’s why the saying, “damsel in distress” goes.
With all that said and done, let’s wrap things up with this golden question on coyotes;
What Animal Barks Like a Dog But is Not a Dog?
Well… from this article, you already know that coyotes and wolves make two good examples of animals that bark like a dog but are not dogs. Another great example is found among the foxes or the vixen. But sometimes, foxes also tend to squeal when they are excited. And with that, we’re signing out.