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Nature & Science

What Does a Coyote and Wolf Have in Common?

Image Source: Jim Cumming / Shutterstock

Both coyotes and wolves are different from each other. Some wolves are top predators, while others coexist peacefully with society and other animals. In contrast, coyotes are small canids that mainly hunt small animals and are considered safe for society.

In some areas, wolves have been observed preying on small coyotes. Despite their physical differences, these species are closely related. They share similarities in hunting style, diet, and intelligence.

North America is home to four types of wolf-like canids: gray wolves, red wolves, domestic dogs, and coyotes. There are numerous instances of hybridization among these canids.

The mitochondrial DNA difference between these species is about 0.2%. Many mammalogists believe that dogs are direct descendants of a population of gray wolves. Coyotes and gray wolves share a common ancestor from nearly 2 million years ago, with a mitochondrial DNA difference of around 4 percent.

Scientists suggest that red wolves are the hybridized offspring of gray wolves and coyotes.

All canids are considered intelligent animals, adept at problem-solving and proficient hunters. Coyotes demonstrate their intelligence by adapting to survive in areas near humans and developing complex social systems.

coyotes are adaptable and sometimes solitary throughout their lives.

Both coyotes and wolves are primarily carnivorous, though they also scavenge carcasses. Coyotes frequently consume berries and fruits, while wolves are primarily carnivorous but may also consume fruits and berries. Wolves hunt larger prey, such as ungulates, while coyotes prey on smaller animals like birds, rodents, and rabbits. In areas with fewer wolves, coyotes may even hunt larger prey such as deer.

Gray wolves can travel over 600 miles in their lifetime. Canids generally have a tendency to disperse over considerable distances, and they often exhaust their prey in the pursuit.


Farmers, ranchers, and pioneers often view both wolves and coyotes as pests. Humans have historically eradicated wolves from much of their range, while the range of coyotes has expanded over time. Initially restricted to the western U.S., coyotes are now found in nearly every U.S. state. In 1985, New Yorkers even spotted a pair of coyotes living in Central Park.

Image Source: Jim Cumming / Shutterstock

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