Coyote Reproduction (All Your Questions Answered)

Coyotes are beautiful canines that form deep, long-lasting connections with their mates. They enjoy a monogamous relationship with their partner and treat their pack as a family, protecting them, providing for them, and doing everything they can to keep each other safe as they raise one, cohesive unit. 

Mating season starts in December with many coyotes officially mating by late February. Coyotes will maintain the same pairing throughout their lifetime unless one perishes. In that case, a competing coyote or transient coyote may step in and take the place of the fallen alpha. 

Pups are raised with a careful eye and are taught how to walk, track, and hunt by their parents and other members of the coyote pack. Coyotes work as a group to raise their young and make a strong pack that can withstand the threat of any predators.

Coyote Mating Season

The coyote breeding season occurs between December and March. If the alphas are successful in their mating attempt, there will be a litter of pups born in spring. Following the coyote’s mating season, the alpha coyotes raise the pups together along with the other members of their coyote pack as their aids.  

During mating season, male coyotes are known to become more aggressive because of their desire to procreate. Unfortunately, any lack of cooperation toward the alpha male like a desire to mate with his partner can result in expulsion from the pack which can be fatal to a lone coyote.  

Coyote mating season lasts only a few months and is generally the same in every state no matter what the weather is. That means it does not matter which one of the 49 states you are living in, coyotes will all be stirring at the same time each year trying to find their partner!

How Do Coyotes Mate? 

Coyotes are monogamous lovers who will form connections that last for the rest of their lives! Each year, the alpha coyotes will mate exclusively with the same partner to produce 3-4 pups that the whole pack raises together. 

Coyotes Mate According to Hierarchy 

It is important that an emphasis is placed on how only the two alphas mate. Meanwhile, all the other coyotes in the pack will act as their subordinates to help raise the future litter of pups. Coyotes go through this strict and exclusive mating process so the two alphas can pair together and produce the healthiest pups for the pack. 

Coyotes Mate According to Relationships 

Coyotes are monogamous and will mate for life with the same partner. The only time couplings have ever been proven to be broken is when an alpha coyote perishes. Otherwise, if a junior member shows interest in the alpha female, the male leader will attack and show their dominance. 

Coyote Mating Noises  

When a female coyote is interested in mating, it will let out a howl to inform other coyotes in the area known. These howls are drawn out and are not sung in a choir much like many coyote calls. Any interested male coyotes will return a call or approach the location of the female coyote’s mating call. 

Coyotes tend to make yipping noises while they mate. These high-pitched squeals are like a dog’s yelp. It can be alarming at first and is often mistaken for a dog, but it is nothing to worry about and should be no reason for you to approach the mating pair. 

Coyotes Tying while Mating 

Furthermore, coyotes will often ‘tie’ when they mate which is a physical connection that links the animals together for up to twenty minutes. This is a normal part of the reproduction process and is said to be the one part that links them to life.  

Other Coyote Breeding Tendencies 

Coyotes are prolific which means the more you hunt these craft canines, the more frequently they will breed. This is because of their unmatchable resilience and ability to produce at a rapid rate, with up to 7 pups in a litter. 

This can easily be seen in places like Yellowstone National Park when the wolf population was reintroduced. These apex predators readily eliminated any coyotes they could find and caused a major decline in their population. However, the reproduction rates skyrocketed following the rapid decline!  

How is a Coyote Pup Raised?

Coyotes work as a unit and rely on each other to raise their young each year so only the alphas of the pack will mate. Still, each member of the pack has a considerable role in taking care of the new pups. 

As the alpha male hunts for food, the alpha female stays behind in her den to nurse the newborn pups.

How is a Coyote Pup Born? 

Coyote pups are born through a live birth at the end of a short gestation period. The female gives birth to anywhere between 3 and 7 pups in a den which she will have located within approximately 2 months of pregnancy. 

Female Coyote Mating Period 

Since most coyotes mate in early to mid-February, their litter of pups is expected to arrive anywhere between March and May. However, the time a coyote has their pups depends on when they find their mate. 

For some, finding a mate is easy. All the female needs to do is howl and signal that she is looking for a mate, any male coyote interested will express interest. Other females may only be considered a junior.

Female Coyote Gestation, Whelping, and Birth Period 

The gestation period of the female coyote lasts roughly 60 days, give or take. During this time the alpha female will go through the whelping process as she finds the best den to birth her pups. If the female coyote cannot find an available den or does not want to make her own, she might take a den from another animal like a fox. 

Coyote Pup Nursing Period 

Pups will be kept hidden from predators at the beginning of their lives until they are strong enough to defend themselves. During this time, the mother will nurse them in their den. This typically lasts six weeks before they are weaned from the mother coyote’s milk. 

Coyote Pup Maturing Period 

From 12 weeks old until they are yearlings, coyotes hunt alongside the pack to develop the skills they need to thrive on their own (if they choose to)! 

At 1-2 years old coyotes have the choice of venturing out on their own. If they choose to do so, they will find their own territory to raise breed their own pups. Or they can stay with their family where they continue raising generations of pups as juniors to their parents.  

Coyote pups mature rapidly and will be considered adult coyotes and ready to venture on their own within 1-2 years of age. The decision of the coyote to branch out on their own is mostly based on whether there is enough food to sustain them in that area.  

How do Coyotes Raise Their Young? 

Coyotes are very wise and highly adaptable animals who always seem to be one step ahead of everyone else (including humans!).

They are unafraid of urban environments and will birth and raise their young inside the comfort of your backyard if they think it is a comfortable enough spot to do so. But, they are always wary of what is around the corner and ready to up their roots at a moment’s notice if they smell danger around the corner.

A Mother Coyote’s Role Raising Pups 

Alpha females are very attentive mothers and will often stay behind to nurse their pups and protect their pups from larger, canine predators (like wolves) while their mate hunts. Female coyotes are never known to leave their pups unattended without a reason.  

The female coyote mother is also the sole food source for the weak pups in their early weeks. Lactation occurs until roughly June -which is typically 1 to 2 months since the pups were born. 

During this time, mothers are hyperaware of their surroundings and are constantly moving their dens whenever she feels any threat. Coyotes prefer to keep the birth of their newborn pups under close wraps until they are old enough to fend for themselves which is why alpha females often move den locations when they feel threatened. 

A Father Coyote’s Role Raising Pups 

The coyote father plays an equal role in raising their young. The main role of the coyote alpha-father is being the provider. After having their pups, he will hunt during the day and often bring his partner food so she can stay nourished while she nurses the pups. 

As the pups wean from their mother, they adjust to chewing and swallowing whole food. The male coyote will regurgitate food for his young as the pups finally wean from her milk. During their journey from pup to adult coyote, the alpha father is eager to teach his pups to hunt alongside juniors of the pack. 

Alpha males will do whatever they need to protect their pups whether that means fighting off a potential intruder or by luring an unwelcome visitor away from their den. 

Role of the Pack Raising Coyote Pups

In the grand wilderness, coyote packs tend to range anywhere from two coyotes to a dozen. In packs where there are more than a mother and father coyote, the rest of the pack also takes part in raising the pups.  

The pack helps raise their pups to teach them how to hunt and will help regurgitate food for them as they learn to chew. Members of the pack are often family members from previous generations who are eager to instill knowledge upon their newer members. 

The main role of the pack is to train the new pups and teach them how to hunt. They are also supposed to show them the ways of the pack and teach them the rules like who is in charge (the alpha female and alpha male) and what things are/are not allowed.

How do Coyotes Raise Their Young?

Taking care of the pups is certainly a group effort which is why everyone comes together to help raise them! Under the careful eye of the alpha coyotes and their juniors, the new pups intermingle with their pack and embrace being a coyote! 

Nursing the Pups 

The alpha female is the coyote pup’s main source of food. Female coyotes will nurse their young until they are around six weeks old and then slowly wean them as they become inducted as official members of the pack. 

Food the Pups Eat 

Coyotes will eat practically anything from insects to eagles. As pups, they begin by nursing and eventually will be weaned from their mother and introduced to life as a true coyote alongside their brothers and sisters who are considered junior members of the pack.  

Parents of growing pups and other members of the pack will feed the young pups through a variety of unique methods to help them learn to self-sustain and adapt to their ever-changing environment. They will teach them different hunting techniques and food options to help them survive on their own, if necessary. 

Teaching the Pups to Howl 

Howling is a skill that all pups are naturally born with and use to communicate throughout the rest of their lives. Pups must learn to howl by observing their older family members and participating in nightly songs. 

The more the pups participate in the nightly songs and integrate with their pack, the quicker they learn to howl. However, coyotes do not develop strong enough vocal cords to howl until they are 10 weeks old. 

Defending Pups from Predators  

Mass predators like wolves are a major threat to new coyote pups which is why coyotes are very careful to conceal the presence of their new pups within the first few months. They are also considerate of their den’s location and will often move it from time to time when they feel threatened.

If needed, the alpha males and other pack members will defend their territory from unwanted transient coyotes or predators by brawling. Using their sharp teeth and fierce growls they can be intimidating, especially when they are in large numbers.

FAQ 

The following are the most frequently asked questions about coyotes! 

Can Coyotes and Wolves Mate? 

Wolves often mate with coyotes. People call this interbred species “coywolves”. 

What Are Female Coyotes Called? 

The female leader of the coyote pack is called the ‘alpha female’. She can be visibly distinguished from the male coyotes by her small stature and typically has a fuller coat. 

What Are Male Coyotes Called?

A male coyote is typically called a ‘coyote’ unless it is the alpha of the pack. Then, it is called the ‘alpha male’.

What Are Young Coyotes Called? 

Newborn coyotes are typically called pups until they reach adulthood (around 1-2 years old) when they are considered adult coyotes. 

Will Coyotes Be Attracted to a Dog in Heat? 

Coyotes are attracted to un-spayed/unneutered domesticated dogs so you should get your outdoor pets fixed so they do not attract coyotes during mating season. 

Do Coyotes Breed with Dogs? Is This Common? 

It is possible for coyotes and domesticated dogs to interbreed. Coyotes often become attracted to the smell of an unneutered/un-spayed dog while they are in heat. A male dog may also be attracted to the smell of a female coyote while she is in heat. 

Can Coyotes and Foxes Breed? 

Foxes and coyotes cannot breed. 

How Many Pups Are Usually in A Litter? 

There are typically 3 to 4 pups born per litter!  There have been as many as 7 in a litter.

Can Coyote Pups Survive Without Their Mother? 

Without their mother to nurse from, a coyote pup will not survive. If a coyote pup is past nursing age, it can survive with the help of its pack members.

What Should I Do If I Find Coyote Pups Abandoned by Their Mother? 

If you stumble across a litter of abandoned coyote pups, leave them alone. Chances are that the pups have not been abandoned and the mother has only left them behind temporarily. 

Conclusion

Be cautious walking your dogs around coyote mating season. Coyotes are typically friendly and non-combative but while they are under heat, coyotes can get aggressive and may even try mating with your pet –the same can happen for your dog, too who can find the odor of a coyote enticing. 

Coyotes in heat are not dangerous but it is best to keep clear and let them continue their yearly journey. These alphas are the leaders of their pack and they have bonded for life to continue their pack’s legacy. As their pup’s main source of survival, the mother and father work together to raise a strong and self-sufficient group of coyotes that can withstand and adapt to the harshest conditions.

As members of a coyote pack, they are meant to abide by alpha mating rituals. If any coyote goes against these and proves disobedient to their alpha male, they will be ostracized from the group.