Do Coyotes Hibernate?

Eastern Coyote

Do Coyotes Hibernate?

Coyotes do not hibernate in the wintertime. They make some physiological adjustments and employ different hunting techniques, but generally, they’re just as active in the winter or more so than they are the rest of the year.

They shed their summer coat and grow a thicker, heavier one each fall to help them stay warm through the winter.

Additionally, they pack on as many calories as they can during times of plenty to see them through the long winter. For instance, it’s not an unheard-of occurrence for coyotes to raid people’s orchards in the autumn to eat the fallen fruit from the ground. The sugar in the fruit converts right over to wintertime fat.


What Do Coyotes Do In The Winter ?

When it’s extremely cold, they might temporarily reduce their daily activity, but they need to eat at least 2 to 3 pounds of meat every day. At the bare minimum, they need to eat every 36 hours, so they’ll eventually be back hunting.

Coyotes do not migrate in the winter. However, they might shift their home territory slightly for a couple of different reasons. The first possible reason is that their prey animals become scarce in their present range. The second possible reason that will make them shift to a different wintertime territory is if the snow becomes unnavigable. In deep loose powdery snow, they’ll flounder and waste valuable energy just trying to get around.

On the other hand, if the snow is crusted, they’ll be able to travel on top of it and use it to their advantage against larger prey animals that they would have very little chance of bringing down in the summer.

Some of a coyote’s larger prey animals are at a greater disadvantage when the snow gets deep. For example, coyotes kill deer at any time of year. In the spring, though, most of the deer coyotes kill are fawns. The coyote’s kill success rate goes up dramatically when deer are forced to flounder and wear themselves out in deep, crusted snow while the coyote travels on top of it. Coyotes prey on twice as many deer in the winter compared to the summer. Additionally, they kill a larger percentage of adult deer in the winter.

Coyotes are also experts at hunting mice and voles underneath the snow. To do this, they employ an unusual hunting technique. They use their powerful sense of hearing to pinpoint the rodent’s location beneath the snow. They then leap into the air and dive headfirst into the snow and snatch up their prey if they’re successful.

When Are Coyotes Most Active?

Coyotes are much more active in the daylight hours during the winter.

Coyotes are not exclusively nocturnal. You can see coyotes out and about any time of day in any season of the year. However, coyotes are mainly nocturnal during the summer months, meaning they are most active at night. Most of the time, they shelter up and wait through the daylight hours for darkness to come, then they come out to hunt.

In the winter, coyotes become much more active in the daylight. The reason for this is that when it’s cold, they need to burn more calories to stay warm. This necessitates that they are on the hunt more. Thus, in the wintertime, coyotes are more active in the daylight hours than the rest of the year.

Coyote mating season occurs in the winter. This is another time when they are more active, in the daylight hours, and you’re more likely to see them or hear them vocalizing. A single female in estrus can attract multiple males that vie for her affection.

Coyote Mating Season

Coyotes breed in the winter and early spring. They will breed within a 3-month period beginning in January and going through March. The timing correlates with the climate in their range. In warmer areas, they will breed in January. On the other hand, in the coldest climates, they postpone breeding until March.

Coyote females are Mono estrus, meaning they only come in heat once a year. This differs from female dogs. They have two estrus cycles per year. Interestingly, coyote males only have viable sperm during the breeding season, and they’re unfertile the rest of the year.

Coyotes are monogamous, and sometimes the actual bonding of pairs takes several months before any actual breeding takes place. However, when an unattached female enters estrus, she telegraphs the event by increased howling and scent marking.

A single female in heat can attract a half dozen or so male suitors, and they may follow her for up to a month. The males are very competitive for the female’s attention. This is the case until the actual act of copulation takes place. At this point, the unsuccessful males drop away. Mated coyote pairs stay monogamous for years. In fact, in some cases, but not always, they’re monogamous for life. Source

The gestation for coyotes runs from 58 to 63 days. So, by doing the math, we find that coyote pups are born in March and April in warmer climates, while in the coldest areas, they’re born in May and June. The female goes into a den at this time. She’ll either convert the used den of some other animal or dig one from scratch. Coyotes only use dens for the whelping of pups and to shelter them for the first six weeks of their life after that, they abandon them.

Male coyote pups leave and go out on their own when they are 6 to 9 months old. On the other hand, female coyote pups generally stay with their parent’s pack until they reach sexual maturity.

To Sum Things Up

Coyotes don’t hibernate in the winter. They have to stay extremely active, looking for the calories that they need to make up for the extra energy that they have to burn to keep warm. To this end, they are more active in the daylight hours than they are in the warmer months because they’re out searching for food.

Additionally, coyotes are more likely to hunt larger ungulates like deer and pronghorns in deep, crusted snow.

Coyotes also mate and have their pups in the winter and early spring.

In reality, coyotes are just as active in the winter as they are in the summer or more so.

Recent Posts