Eastern Coyote vs Western Coyote – The Real Comparison

When the western coyotes moved towards the east of the United States, they amazingly changed their characteristics. This happened because of the breeding between western coyotes and eastern wolves. Thus, eastern coyotes were born. And the discussion of eastern coyote vs western coyote began.

Now, this phenomenon occurred over the course of a hundred years. And the new type of coyotes really left the scientific community confused. Are they coyotes or wolves or a new species? The debate is still going on. But most agree that these animals are coyotes with quite a few wolf characteristics.

So, the eastern coyote became known by a lot of names like a coydog, tweed wolf, brush wolf, and nowadays coywolf. If they are a new species or not that’s a debate for the scientists. But we will look at the similarities and some very obvious differences between eastern and western coyotes here.

Eastern Coyote vs Western Coyote

Eastern coyote vs western coyote comparison chart

Area of differenceEastern coyoteWestern coyote
Size Can weigh up to 50 lb. (23 kg)Weighs between 20-30 lb. (9-14 kg)
Appearance More colorful with red, black, or pale tonesLess colorful than the eastern coyote
Tail Longer and bushierSmaller and less bushy
SkullBigger and broaderSmaller and narrower
Teeth Larger Smaller 
Paws Bigger Smaller 
Legs Longer Shorter 
Area of existence The north-eastern part of the US and adjacent parts of CanadaThe south-western part of the US

The differences between Eastern coyote and western coyote

Let’s see the differences between these two.

Size

This is the biggest and most prominent difference between these two types of coyotes. Although they are considered by most as the same species, the eastern coyotes are a lot bigger than their western relatives. Eastern coyotes can grow up to 50 lb. whereas western ones don’t get more than 30 lb. 

Eastern Coyote

The reason behind this is not very clear. Many theories have been proposed. One of the most popular ones is interbreeding between eastern wolves and western coyotes. Because of this, they became larger than western coyotes. And other theories include different and better food habits and such.

Appearance

Eastern coyotes are different in their appearance from western coyotes. They look something in between wolves and western coyotes. They are heavier, have shorter muzzles and ears. On the other hand, the western coyotes are leaner and smaller. 

Western Coyote

And there are differences in the color they showcase on their bodies too. Eastern coyotes are a lot more colorful than western ones. They have red, black, or pale tones on their bodies and sometimes a combination of these colors. Western coyotes don’t show that much variety of colors.

Bigger skulls on eastern coyotes

The theory of the interbreeding between the eastern wolves and the western coyotes somewhat explains this fact too. This is the reason the eastern coyotes have bigger skulls. And that also provides them with bigger jaws. And that’s why the eastern coyotes can go for deer hunting that the western ones can’t.

Other body parts

In a nutshell, the eastern coyotes have almost everything bigger than the western coyotes. Bigger paws, longer tails, larger teeth, and longer legs are some examples. And in all cases the western ones have smaller body parts. That makes the eastern ones look a lot like the wolves.

Food habit

Eastern coyotes have a diet consisting of a variety of food sources. They hunt rabbits, woodchucks and also go for bigger animals like deer. And they also eat smaller prey such as mice and voles. And when they don’t find any meat, they don’t hesitate to become vegans. 

This diversity in food cannot be found in western coyotes. Because of this, the eastern coyotes are more successful in adapting to the environment they live in. And they have in a very short time multiplied their number of populations. 

Adaptability

The eastern coyotes are a really successful species in terms of adaptability. Maybe more than their western counterparts and even the wolf species. The reason behind this is something the biologists call behavioral plasticity. They form social structures like the wolves.

Eastern coyotes can form strong pair bonds and even establish packs. They come together as a family consisting of an alpha male and female and other members to raise a litter. Then after a year, they let go of the previous litter and raise a new one. These behaviors make them better adaptable coyotes.

Hunting experience

People take hunting eastern and western coyotes to be an exact same experience. But there are a few differences we can notice. The eastern coyotes are a bigger species and they live in much more jungle-like areas. On the other hand, the western ones are smaller and have more open fields and terrains.

Because of the different living conditions, the western coyotes are better at giving responses during hunting. They tend to run faster and respond better to distress calls. They are a little more aggressive than eastern coyotes. On the other hand, the eastern ones tend to be a little more patient and slower.

Although, these differences are not very significant but can be of some importance to a hunter. But despite the differences, both types of coyotes are fun to hunt during the hunting days of the seasons.

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The similarities between Eastern coyote and western coyote

Let’s see some similarities between them.

  • Both the eastern and western coyotes share a common ancestry. At least 62% of the eastern coyote is from coyote genes.
  • Both types have solitary members and other members that make packs consisting of alpha males and females. 
  • Both of them have similar sharp coyote brains. So, they think quite similarly. 
  • Both these two types of coyotes are very vocal. They use long howls, growls, short barks, and yips to communicate in different situations.
  • Usually, both types of coyotes live 6 to 8 years in the wild. And they can live up to twice as long in captivity.

What are the laws for coyote hunting?

The laws for hunting coyote is not the same for all states or countries. In most states in US, the coyote is considered a non-gaming animal. That means you can hunt as many as you want. There is no such limitation at all. However, you cannot poison them for hunting or capture them with any kind of leg-hold trap. Doing this may lead you to lawsuits anytime. That is the only law.

Are Western and eastern coyotes the same species?

It is a matter of dispute among the experts. There is no doubt about the coyote fact that these two types of animals are very similar and it is also true that they have very obvious differences. But most people and experts consider them to be from the same species. The eastern coyotes while being coyotes have some characteristics that are similar to wolves. 

Are western coyotes bigger than eastern coyotes?

The exact opposite is true. Meaning the eastern coyotes are bigger than the western coyotes. And they are significantly bigger on average 35-37% than the western ones. While the western coyotes can grow up to 30 lb., the eastern coyotes can grow up to 50 lb.

Why are eastern coyotes larger than Western?

The most popular theory is the interbreeding between the western coyotes and the eastern wolves created by the eastern coyotes. And that’s the reason the eastern coyotes are significantly bigger than their western counterparts. It is because of the wolf genes they have in them. Other theories say that the absence of predators and the existence of different types of food can be the cause.

Conclusion

This quite interesting discussion on eastern coyotes vs western coyotes should be able to answer a lot of questions you had on this topic. It really is a fascinating topic to take a look at. How a species changes a significant portion of its characteristics just by migrating from one place to another is mind-blowing.

To conclude, we will say, there is no doubt both these two coyotes are quite different in some areas. And the striking similarities between eastern coyotes and wolves are not negligible. But it is safe to say that eastern coyotes are still coyotes no matter how different they are from their western cousins.

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