Coyotes: Not Very Big!

Human perception is a funny thing. We can’t count the number of times that someone has brought us a “huge, twenty or thirty pound” fox that barely weighed seven pounds, or reported a coyote “the size of a German shepherd” that was actually smaller than a border collie. For whatever reason, people’s minds play tricks on them when they encounter wild animals.

If we were to ask most people how big the coyotes they’ve seen in the wild are, most would tell us that they weigh a minimum of seventy pounds, with a few people coming up with fanciful descriptions of two-hundred-pound monsters. Real coyotes, though, are actually pretty small.

A typical healthy adult coyote in our area will weigh roughly thirty pounds. That can lean a little higher for males and a little lower for females, with many females going their whole lives weighing no more than a medium-sized terrier. The absolute largest record-breaking male coyote weighed 75 pounds. (Compare that to the largest domestic dog, who weighed nearly 350.)

It’s important to rethink how we visualize our wild predators. When we promote an image of coyotes as huge, terrifying, bear-sized beasts, it contributes to fear and panic, and makes it harder for us to coexist. While we certainly don’t recommend provoking or handling wild predators of any kind, try to remember that they’re much smaller and much less dangerous than you imagine.

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