Do Coyotes Live in Packs?


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We all know that wolves live in packs, but do other canids, such as coyotes, also live in packs? Let’s take a closer look at the social behavior of coyotes and how they sometimes manage to live together.

Do Coyotes Live in Packs or Alone?

Coyotes have been known in many areas to live in packs. They form groups that hunt together, live together, and defend territories together. This benefits them in multiple ways, the biggest being strength in numbers. Although some coyotes live in packs, others stay solitary and live alone.

Coyotes have been known to use their numbers to band together and defend territory, take territory, and “surplus kill” their prey to feed themselves.

Many times, large groups of coyotes can overtake other predators and spread closer to urban areas where they are seen as a pest and a possible danger to residents and domestic animals.

Coyote pack howling – Video example.

How Many Coyotes Are Usually in a Pack?

Coyote packs are comprised of a mix of adult coyotes and coyote pups. The packs aren’t usually as big as some canid packs, however, they all work together and each of them contributes to the pack.  

There are usually around 2-7 adult coyotes that live in a pack, with around the same number of pups. A larger amount of pups will sometimes coincide with better food sources in the area (the more food the more pups.)

One interesting thing about coyotes is that they have a complex social structure. Each member of the pack helps defend territory, bring in food, take care of pups, and more. There is an alpha male that usually leads the pack.

Why Do Coyotes Get Kicked Out of the Pack?

A coyote may be kicked out of the pack for multiple reasons, including being injured, being too old to follow the pack, food shortages, and in some cases, they can tell when a coyote is diseased and will ban them from the pack.

A coyote that gets kicked out of the pack must become a solitary animal that survives on its own. Animals that live in packs are more likely to survive due to the strength in numbers to pull in more food and defend territory.

Some coyotes become solitary when they are yearlings, getting separated from the others, or being too weak to survive. In the cases where they do survive on their own, they must fend for themselves, defending their own territories from larger packs and killing enough prey.

Do Coyotes Stay With Mates?

Yes, coyotes are monogamous. They bond with each other and create a long-term relationship. Some coyote pairs stay together for most of their lives, some only stay monogamous for a few mating seasons, but in many cases, they stay in the same pack with the same mate.

Not every coyote is completely monogamous. Sometimes, the coyotes will mate once, and something will cause them to separate, one of the two will get kicked out of the pack, or other external factors will cause them to separate.

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Do Coyotes Hibernate?

No, coyotes do not hibernate. Many animals in the wild will hibernate through parts of the winter. Coyotes are very adaptive and resilient, they do not need to hibernate and are very active through the winter months.

Coyotes prey on animals that flourish in the winter months, such as rabbits, rodents, and other small mammals. It’s harder for rabbits to find food in winter, so they have to spend more time searching for food. This puts them foraging in coyote territory.

Do Foxes and Coyotes Live in the Same Area?

Yes, foxes and coyotes can live in the same area. Wild canids live throughout North America, canids such as foxes, coyotes, wild dogs, wolves, and others. Many times the territory of a coyote will cross with a fox.

If their territories overlap, there could be a dispute between them over territory, food, or other reasons. Sometimes one wild canid will eat another out of starvation. This will sometimes happen after a fight between them, where the victor eats the dead.

Both coyotes and foxes have similar prey as well. This means that they may come across each other while hunting, which can cause problems. Since both of these animals have more than one den, they will sometimes use each other’s dens while hunting or expanding their territory.

See our article for How Smart Are Coyotes here.

How Long Do Coyotes Stay in One Area?

Coyotes stay within a home range for most of their lives, (around 8 -16 square miles.) The longest that they will stay in one area is after the mating season when the pups are born. The pups generally stay inside of the den for the first 6 months. After this period, the pups will learn to hunt, and start to explore.

Since coyote packs are territorial, they will defend their home range and hunting grounds. This also means that sometimes they will expand their territory and hunting grounds. Source.

What To Do if you See a Pack of Coyotes

If you see a pack of coyotes, you should get to a safe area immediately, such as a shelter or vehicle. You may also decide to shout out at them to scare them away. Do not approach them or try to stay close to them.

Coyotes can be very vicious and dangerous. This is because they are territorial and will defend their territory as a pack. It can be easy to hear a pack of coyotes howling in the night, however, coming into contact with a pack of coyotes is a dangerous and unusual event.

Even though coyotes live in packs they can still exhibit solitary behaviors, such as not going too close to human civilization. Although, in recent years, coyotes have been known to venture closer to the outskirts of cities and towns, expanding their range into areas that they avoided.

This is most likely due to their ability to adapt and survive no matter what the circumstances are.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What time of day are coyotes most active?

Coyotes are most active during the night. They are nocturnal and do most of their hunting after daylight hours. You may see them out in the daytime, or twilight hours only because they can also be crepuscular at times.

What do you call a pack of coyotes?

A pack of coyotes, or a group of coyotes, is known as a band. A band of coyotes consists of multiple coyotes who live together and sometimes hunt together, socialize together and defend territory.

Where do coyotes go in the rain?

Coyotes generally find shelter when it rains. They will get to a dry area, such as a den, a cave, a hollowed-out tree, or other structures that would allow them to get out of the elements. Once the rain ends, they continue hunting.

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an outdoorsman who loves spending time in nature, working on ranches in Texas, and observing wildlife.

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