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How do you distinguish among the varieties of coyotes?

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Quick Answer

Differentiate between coyote varieties using the coyote's size, weight and color of its coat. While there are 19 coyote subspecies worldwide, two main subspecies outnumber all others in the United States and Canada. There are also two main coyote hybrids, which are easily distinguished.

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How do you distinguish among the varieties of coyotes?
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Full Answer

Western coyotes are typically smaller than their Eastern counterparts. In addition to their smaller sizes and weights, Western coyotes typically have smaller teeth, as they prey on smaller animals such as rabbits, skunks and squirrels. This type of coyote is generally pale grey or tan in color, as it rarely interbreeds with wolves or dogs.

Compared with Western coyotes, Eastern coyotes are larger, heavier and have bigger teeth. Many of these traits likely stem from interbreeding between coyotes and grey wolves in the past. While Eastern coyotes hunt many of the same game species as their Western counterparts, they also hunt larger prey such as deer and livestock. Another way to recognize an Eastern coyote is by the slight red color many individuals of this subspecies display in their coats.

Coyote-grey wolf hybrids, or "coywolves," are distinguishably larger when compared even to Eastern coyotes. Coywolves also display more wolf-like behavior, including hunting large game in packs. Coyotes interbreed rarely with the endangered red wolf, and these hybrids are recognizable by their much redder color and solitary behavior.

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