Dr. charles shawley, predator hunting, hunting the hunters, predators west,predators quest,predator masters,coyote 101,coyote biology


   The coyote is an interesting critter. It’s found in every state except Hawaii, but given enough time you’ll probably hear reports of coyotes on Waikiki Beach. For decades humans have been trying to extirpate the coyote, but it has thrived nonetheless and will continue to do so for many years to come.

 The adult coyote stands roughly two feet tall at the shoulders and runs 4-5 feet from nose to tail tip.

 The average age adult coyote weighs somewhere between 25-45 pounds.

 However the farther North you go, the larger the coyote you’ll encounter as is stated in Bergman’s rule. This is because the farther North you go the larger the ratio of the animals volume to its surface area. This is intended to explain that animals can stay warmer in a colder environment, but there are other explanations to explain Bergman’s rule.

The coloration of the coyote tends to correspond with its environment but follows certain trends.

  1. The coyote is generally rust brown in color, although there are variations including brown, red, silver, black, and white. A coyote residing in timber country will exhibit more red coloration than a coyote dwelling in open country. Most coyotes have black-tipped tail although some have a white tip.
  2. The coyote track is smaller and narrower than that of a comparably sized domestic dog. The typical coyote track is roughly two and one half inches long, and the distance between tracks is generally 13-16 inches when the animal is at a walk. It saunters at a pace of roughly 4 mph, trots at roughly 8mph, and can hit speeds of more than 40 mph on a dead run which it can sustain for more than a mile (you have to allow plenty of lead to shoot a coyote running at top speed).


It’s not by accident that coyote hunters are most successful during crepuscular periods (dawn and dusk). Coyotes are most active during these times. The amber-colored eyes of the coyote are optimized for hunting in low light. Their pupils are large and their retinas have higher concentrations of rods than cones giving them very keen night vision. Their heightened sensitivity to light also grants them the keen ability to detect movement, but it comes at a cost of color vision. While most hunters are aware of the incredible canine vision, not many know that it comes with limitations.

Coyote eyes have feature know as the tapetum lucidum, latin for “bright tapestry.” The tapetum lucidum reflects light back onto the retina so very dim has a second chance to find light sensitive rods.

It’s the tapeum lucidum you see when you shine a light in an animal’s eyes and observe that ominous glow. The tapedum ludidum give the coyote better night vision, but comes at a cost of resolution and clarity. As light is reflected back on the retina, the resulting image becomes blurry from light interference.

Canines posses two color receptors sensitive to yellow and blue wavelengths  that are active during daylight hours. While the well known ROYGBIV acronym covers color sensitivity to humans, coyotes have dichromatic vision. This changes the  acronym to yyywbbb for coyote eyesight.

Coyotes have very little sensitivity I the green spectral region causing lighter shades of green to appear white. Darker shades of green would appear as grey hues. It’s very likely that coyotes can see into the ultra light region of the spectrum, as their corneas do not block UV light from 300-400nm.

Take a look at any setting with that fact in mind, and you begin to get a sense of how radically different that scene would look to a canine.

The abundance of green you see is, to them, not there, Instead, the world is all shades of yellow, blue, and grey.

A pair of coyote eyes as photographed using a flash to show the tapedum lucidum located at the back of the eye underneath the retina. In the photo, this is the bright reflection seen through the pupils.