Can Coyotes Swim?

Can Coyotes Swim

My mom asked me a question when I was 8 years old, and I have never been able to get it out of my head. She asked, “Can coyotes swim?” This is an incredible concept to consider. Coyotes are much smaller and not adapted to water like their larger counterparts, the wolves. They do not have the webbed foot, they do not have a thick coat or oily fur (to act as a repellent), and they do not have a thick layer of fat (to keep warm in cold water).

Can coyotes swim? Coyotes are agile and adept swimmers. Coyotes are able to swim when the situation demands it and can swim a significant distance. However, being in the water is not their ideal choice as they are terrestrial animals. They have been known to swim only when searching for prey or attempting to escape predators.

Coyotes are adapted to a wide variety of habitats, ranging from forests to prairies, mountains to deserts, and even urban areas. While they are excellent swimmers, coyotes prefer not to swim in the water for extended periods of time unless necessary. 

Learning about the swimming capabilities of animals that live around us, such as cats and dogs, is relatively easy. However, there is minimal scope to learn more when it comes to wild animals like coyotes since they inhabit regions far away from human settlements and rarely cross paths with us.

Here are some fascinating facts about coyote swimming, that will clear your doubts.

Do coyotes seem to like water?

While asking the question “whether or not do coyotes like water,” you must remember that these canids are primarily terrestrial and can only like water so much. And among the terrestrials, their fondness of water is notable.

Coyotes are quite comfortable around water in general. However, there are individual preferences, just as with the dogs. While some coyotes will not hesitate to cross a short stretch of lake or river, others wait for the water body to freeze before crossing. The latter is just as capable of swimming as the former but don’t care for it.

The coyote population that seems to like water can even be seen swimming across flooded irrigation to reach a field. They will also enter the water bodies to wash off their fur coats if it has been muddied.

However, as a rule of thumb, coyotes can be seen in water more frequently during the summers as an attempt to bathe and keep themselves cool.


Are coyotes good swimmers?

We have already learned that coyotes are not intimidated by the water and are instead known to enjoy it. But are these canids skilled swimmers? Yes, they are, and in this section, we are going to find out why.


What makes coyotes good swimmers?

Although coyotes do not have webbed feet, fins, or feathers, they have a narrow body mass distributed evenly from their heads to their rears.

They also have a large tail that comes in handy when they navigate their way inside the water, acting as a rudder. Their paws are powerful and can move tirelessly for a considerable amount of time.

Lastly, their thick fur coat can trap air and keeps them afloat, protecting them from drowning. Their fur is also effective in keeping them warm after swimming.


Do coyotes like swimming?

Just as the fondness of water varies from one coyote to another, coyotes also have individual preferences about swimming. Some coyotes might think of swimming as a fun activity at times, but others will try to stay out of the water for as long as possible.


How far can coyotes swim?

When the coyotes are in the water, they are generally much slower than on land (unless predators are in their pursuit). They swim slowly and can usually go as far as 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in one go.

Once they have crossed this distance, they might feel like taking a short break if they need to swim farther. However, if they are swimming for their own pleasure, they mostly stay in the same place and closer to the land instead of going deep into the water.

Compared to the coyotes, the larger canids, particularly the wolves, can swim much farther (5.7 miles), but that’s only because they happen to have webbed feet.


What motivates coyotes to swim?

Coyotes, like most terrestrial animals, will not swim voluntarily. However, if they have a compelling cause that drives them to do it, you can count on them swimming. But what could these reasons be? Let’s find out:


Searching for food

If you spot a coyote swimming in the water 8 out of 10 times, it is because they are hunting for food.

The population of coyotes in the North American continent has been expanding since the 1700s. This has led to cutthroat competition for food among them. Not to mention other carnivores that inhabit within their range.

This competition has resulted in coyotes adapting to prey on animals in the water bodies, giving them an edge over the competitors that can not swim.

Although coyotes are omnivores, about 90% of their diet should ideally be animal-based, which is why they have a diverse diet. Their diet includes deer, elk, moose, sheep, rabbits, hares, pronghorns, rodents, amphibians, water birds, lizards, snakes, fish, crustaceans, turtles, and insects.

Coyotes usually do not go after water birds and fish, these aquatic creatures become their ideal prey in food scarcity.


Escaping their predators

While coyotes are lethal canids, they have many enemies of their own in the wild. Some of their common predators are golden eagles, mountain lions, bears, and cougars.

It is to escape their predators that coyotes will swim into a lake or a river nearby. They can either cross it and reach the other side or stay put unless their predator gets tired and leaves.


Can coyotes drown?

Coyotes are both skilled in swimming and have great survival instincts, which is why instances of them drowning in the water are highly unheard of.

Even if they are tired of swimming midway, their fur can keep them afloat for long enough to regain their strength and swim their way back to the land.

So, unless there is a natural calamity like flood or tsunami involved, these canids are unlikely to drown.


Frequently asked questions

How do coyotes dry themselves off after being wet? Wild animals like coyotes are not very concerned with drying themselves off; their fur coat dries off independently.

Can all canids swim? Apart from coyotes, wolves and foxes can all swim well enough to survive in water. Moreover, some dog breeds like poodles and Spanish water dogs can swim fairly well, too.


Conclusion: Can Coyotes Swim?

There’s a spot on my property where I hear coyotes howling. They’re far enough away that I don’t worry about an attack, but I’ve always been curious about their ability to swim. But now I have a clear-cut answer.

Coyotes have the ability to swim – without a doubt. They’re good swimmers and have been for thousands of years. However, the real question is do they like to swim? And the answer to that is a resounding “no”.

This is the end of the article. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed learning about coyotes swimming. And remember, next time a debate arises over whether can coyotes swim or not, you have the answer to settle it once and for all!

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