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Will coyotes let you pet them?

Coyotes are wild animals that are naturally wary of humans, so the chances of being able to walk up to one and pet it are extremely slim. Coyotes have learned to adapt to urban and suburban environments, but they still maintain their wild instincts and behavior. It is important to respect their space and not attempt to touch or interact with them.

Can you tame a coyote?

While coyotes are intelligent and adaptable animals, they are not able to be truly domesticated like dogs. Coyotes have been bred in captivity for several generations, but they maintain much of their wild nature and tendencies. Even hand-raised coyotes from birth still exhibit caution and fear around humans when they reach adulthood. So while coyotes can become accustomed to human presence, they are not tame pets.

Are coyotes dangerous to humans?

Coyotes are generally fearful of humans and avoid direct contact. However, as they become more comfortable living near human settlements, they may occasionally view small pets as prey or be aggressive toward humans when defending their territory or pups. There have been some isolated incidents of coyotes biting or injuring humans, especially small children. But overall, coyotes pose a low threat to human safety.

What are the risks of getting close to a coyote?

Some potential risks of approaching or trying to touch a coyote include:

  • Being bitten – Even habituated coyotes may react defensively to human encroachment on their space.
  • Exposure to diseases – Coyotes can carry diseases like rabies, mange, and distemper that could potentially be transmitted to humans.
  • Attacking pets – Cornered coyotes may lash out at dogs or cats in the vicinity.
  • Leading to future aggressive behavior – Allowing coyotes to become comfortable with human touch risks emboldening them over time.

Do coyotes wag their tails?

Coyotes do sometimes wag their tails, but a wagging tail does not always indicate a friendly greeting as with domestic dogs. Coyotes may wag their tails when they are agitated or ready to defend themselves. A stiff, upright tail can be a sign that a coyote feels threatened. The most common tail position for a coyote is down between the legs as they try to avoid confrontation.

Can you bait coyotes?

It is generally illegal and unwise for private citizens to bait coyotes. Baiting essentially trains coyotes to seek out human-provided food sources and lose their fear of people. A habituated, food-conditioned coyote poses a greater danger to the public. However, some state wildlife agencies may use baiting strategically to manage specific coyote populations and reduce conflicts with humans and livestock.

What are signs of a rabid coyote?

Some possible signs that a coyote may be rabid include:

  • Erratic behavior – Staggering, disorientation, or loss of fear around people
  • Aggression – Unprovoked attacks or unusual boldness
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Jaw paralysis – Inability to eat or drink
  • Vocal changes – High-pitched crying or whining
  • Lethargy – Lack of responsiveness or movement

However, the only definitive way to confirm rabies is by laboratory testing after euthanization. So these signs alone should not be considered diagnostic.

What diseases can you get from coyotes?

Some diseases that coyotes may potentially transmit to humans include:

  • Rabies – Nearly 100% fatal viral infection of the brain and nerves
  • Mange – Skin disease caused by mites, resulting in hair loss
  • Distemper – Viral disease that can infect domestic dogs
  • Tularemia – Bacterial infection typically spread by ticks or deer flies
  • Leptospirosis – Bacterial disease that can infect kidneys and other organs
  • Plague – Rare bacterial disease spread by fleas

However, most coyote-borne diseases present low risk to humans as long as proper precautions are taken around wildlife.

What should you do if a coyote approaches you?

If a coyote approaches or follows you, here are some tips:

  • Remain calm and back away slowly while facing the coyote
  • Make loud noises or wave your arms to startle and scare it off
  • Do not turn your back or run away
  • If the coyote does not retreat, be aggressive by shouting, throwing rocks, or using a deterrent spray
  • Pick up small children and pets to protect them
  • Report any aggressive or fearless behavior to authorities

Habituated coyotes that have lost their natural fear of humans are more likely to approach, so it’s important not to allow them to become comfortable around people.

How do you identify a coyote?

To identify a coyote:

  • Size – Typically weigh 20-50 lbs with a slender, narrow body
  • Color – Grey, tan, brown, blonde, or rust coloring; may have darker face mask
  • Ears – Triangular ears that stand erect
  • Snout – Long, pointed muzzle with black nose
  • Tail – Long, bushy, black-tipped tail, usually held downward
  • Legs – Long, thin legs; front tracks are wider than rear
  • Behavior – Nose to ground while traveling; bushy downward tail while running

Coyotes resemble domestic dogs but are leaner, have larger ears relative to head size, and carry their tails lower.

What time of day are coyotes most active?

Coyotes are most active at the following times:

  • Early morning – Just before dawn and a few hours after
  • Early evening – Around dusk as the sun is setting
  • Night – Especially during the summer when pups are active

Coyotes generally try to avoid the high temperatures in the middle of the day. Their peak activity levels correlate with the activity patterns of their prey species.

What do coyotes eat?

The diet of coyotes consists of:

  • Small mammals – Such as mice, rats, rabbits, and voles
  • Insects – Such as grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars
  • Reptiles and amphibians – Such as lizards, snakes, and frogs
  • Fish
  • Birds and bird eggs
  • Fruits and berries
  • Carrion – Scavenging dead carcasses
  • Livestock and pets (rarely)

Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and will eat almost anything depending on availability. They prefer small prey they can easily capture and consume.

How can you deter coyotes from your yard?

Here are some tips to deter coyotes from your property:

  • Remove food attractants – Clear away fallen fruit, pet food, and garbage.
  • Install fences – Tall fences may deter coyotes, but they can climb and dig.
  • Use predator urine – The scent triggers a fear response in coyotes.
  • Make loud noises – Yell, bang pots and pans, or use alarm boxes.
  • Motion-activated lights and sprinklers
  • Keep pets inside or supervise them outdoors.
  • Clean up brush and dense vegetation to reduce hiding places.

Deterrents may drive coyotes away temporarily but consistent scaring and removing food sources works best to keep them away long-term.

What time of year are coyotes most aggressive?

Coyotes are most aggressive in late winter and early spring for the following reasons:

  • Breeding season occurs in January to March, leading to defensive behaviors around dens.
  • Pups are born in the spring and parents become protective of their territory and offspring.
  • Lack of food resources in winter may lead coyotes to take more risks around humans.

However, habituated urban coyotes may exhibit aggressive behavior year-round, especially toward outdoor pets. Caution should be exercised during coyote pupping and mating seasons.

What state has the most coyotes?

According to wildlife experts, the U.S. state believed to have the largest coyote population is Texas. Factors that contribute to a high coyote density in Texas include:

  • Large geographic area, covering over 260,000 square miles.
  • Diversity of rural and urban habitats like prairies, forests, and suburban areas.
  • Abundance of food sources, from rodents to deer.
  • Lack of competition from larger predators like wolves.
  • Adaptable, flexible diet and behavior.

Texas provides ideal conditions to sustain a dense and thriving coyote population statewide. Other states with large coyote populations are California, Colorado, Arizona, and Kansas.

Are coyotes endangered?

No, coyotes are not considered an endangered or threatened species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are classified as a species of Least Concern due to their large, widespread, and stable population sizes. Some specific reasons coyotes are not endangered include:

  • Highly adaptive nature allows them to exploit a variety of habitats.
  • They have an extremely broad diet and can survive on available food sources.
  • Lack of competition from other larger predators like wolves.
  • High reproductive capacity with litters of up to 12 pups.
  • Have expanded their range greatly over the last centuries.
  • Not extensively hunted compared to species sought after for fur.

In fact, coyotes have increased their populations and distributions in many areas. Hybridization with wolves has also introduced some genetic diversity.

Coyote Population by State

State Estimated Coyote Population
Texas 700,000
California 250,000
Colorado 150,000
Arizona 80,000
Kansas 80,000
Oklahoma 50,000


In summary, coyotes are wary wild animals that will likely run away from any human who approaches them. Attempting to touch or interact with a coyote would be extremely unwise and risky. Coyotes naturally avoid close contact with people, so the chances of getting near enough to a coyote in the wild to pet it are very low. Their behavior and body language when a person draws near signals fear and defense rather than welcoming curiosity. Respecting the space of wildlife and appreciating coyotes from a distance is the safest choice.