Coyotes are the size of a medium-size dog, but with longer, thicker fur. Coyotes have a long, bushy, black-tipped tail that is usually carried pointing down.
A coyote is typically 4-5 feet in length, from snout to tip of tail. Their snout is long and slender, and their ears are pointed and erect. The pelts of coyotes in Massachusetts range from grayish-black to blondes, light tan, dark tan, red or even all black. Females weigh an average of 33-40 lbs and males are slightly larger (average 34-47 lbs). Coyotes can attain weights of 50-60 lbs. Because of their thick fur, weights of coyotes can easily be over-estimated.
Due to their canid-like appearance, domestic dogs, red foxes, and gray foxes are often mistaken as coyotes. At first glance, eastern coyotes can have a German Shepard-like appearance, leading to confusion about their identity. Further complicating correct identification is that red and gray foxes can have coat colorations similar to that of coyotes.
The eastern coyote moved into the central and western regions of Massachusetts in the 1950s and now lives in every town in Massachusetts, except for those on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
The coyote population spread throughout Massachusetts because they are well-adapted to changes in the landscape and they can now be found within rural, suburban, and urban areas. Therefore, almost all citizens in Massachusetts live in close proximity to coyotes.
This phenomenon is not isolated to Massachusetts. Coyotes are established throughout all of the United States.
Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will feed on whatever is most readily available and easy to obtain. Their primary foods include fruit, berries, small rodents, rabbits, birds, snakes, frogs, and insects. They will scavenge on animal remains, including road-kills, as well as garbage and pet food left outdoors.
In suburban areas they prey upon unprotected pets, including outdoor house cats and unsupervised domestic dogs.
Because coyotes utilize so many different food sources, they have adapted to and live in a variety of habitats including urban and heavily populated areas.