Coyotes are intriguing creatures that are found in a variety of habitats throughout North America. Although they are most often seen at night, they are very active during the day as well.
Do coyotes hibernate? No, coyotes do not hibernate. They are considered to be a non-hibernating species. This means that they do not sleep through the winter as some other animals do.
Although coyotes do not hibernate, they may slow down their activity level at certain periods during the cold winter months and spend more time bedded down trying to keep warm.
Coyotes and Mating Season
Another reason we know coyotes do not hibernate is because the coyote’s mating season lasts from late December or early January through approximately mid-March. If they were truly hibernating during this time, they would not mate and reproduce.
Coyotes will typically reach sexual maturity at 7 or 8 months old. Once mated, the female coyote will give birth to a litter of between 1 and 12 pups from mid-April through May.
Do Coyotes Migrate Then?
Coyotes do not migrate to warmer climates during the winter as some other animals do. Although they may travel long distances, they typically stay within their home range which is the area where they live and raise their young.
The size of a coyote’s home range depends on many factors such as the availability of food and water, shelter, and the density of the coyote population in that area.
You may see coyotes on the move traveling to a new area if they are having trouble finding food, or often when human interference, such as clearing land for housing development, destroys their natural habitat.
A coyote’s home range can be as small as 25 square miles or up to 1000 square miles!
A reduction of prey availability during winter and competition for food with other animals in the area may also push coyotes to roam further and further.
How Do Coyotes Survive Winter?
If coyotes don’t hibernate or migrate, how do they survive harsh winter temperatures? Coyotes, if nothing else, are strong animals that are creative and adaptable. This is why we see them thriving in a variety of habitats and climates.
One way they manage cold temperatures is by keeping their bodies warm through the use of heat conservation techniques such as insulating their den, using their winter coat to trap extra body heat, and huddling up with other coyotes for added warmth.
Simply searching for whatever small mammals and other game that is available during the cold winter weather can make coyotes more active.
Adaptations To Improve Winter Survivability
Coyotes will often adapt behavior and even some physical characteristics to help them survive the cold winters better.
Behavior wise you may see coyotes most active during the day with cold weather versus during the warmer months coyotes will often be active from dusk throughout the nighttime.
Coyotes are often more active during the day because it is warmer and other creatures venture out to enjoy the warm sun. Coyotes will too.
During particularly harsh winters you may see coyotes traveling and hunting in packs more often. This pack behavior helps them to take down larger prey items that they could not take down alone, and it also helps to keep everyone in the group warmer since they huddle together when sleeping or resting throughout the day.
Coyotes will also consume extra food during the autumn months to help build up their body fat stores preparing for winter. This is common in many other animals in addition to coyotes, so it isn’t surprising that coyotes use this same tactic.
Coyotes also have physical adaptations that help them to survive winter weather. Their coat will often times thicken and grow longer during the colder months providing extra insulation against the cold.
Why do coyote’s coats thicken during winter? The thick, longer coat that coyotes grow during the winter serves several purposes.
One main purpose is to provide insulation against the cold, helping the coyote to conserve body heat and keep warm in colder temperatures while adding protection against harsh winter winds.
Their furry feet are also helpful because they act somewhat like snowshoes, allowing the coyote to more easily travel across snow. The fur on the coyote’s feet will also prevent ice or snow from sticking to their feet, which is helpful to keep snow from building up and help keep the paw pads warm.
How Do Coyote Pups and Juvenile Coyotes Survive Winter?
Although adult coyotes are well adapted to survive the cold winter months, young pups and juvenile coyotes face special challenges during this time.
One of the main challenges they face is a lack of body fat and insulation provided by their thick coat. This can make it more difficult for pups and juveniles to keep warm in the winter months. Adult coyotes will often keep the younger coyotes close to their body, actually using their own body heat to keep them warm.
To help the younger coyotes survive winter better, adult coyotes may also provide more food for these young animals during this time. They will often increase their hunting efforts or leave more food behind for the young (or sick) coyotes in the pack.
In conclusion, we hope this article helped to answer the question do coyotes hibernate. Coyotes are such amazing creatures, and it is interesting to learn more about how they manage to survive the winter season!