Is The Essential Wilderness Survival Skills Online Course Right for You? Take the Free Quiz!

Coyote Tracks and Sign
An Online Field Guide

Canis latrans

Coyote tracks and sign can be found throughout North America in nearly all habitat types. They are highly adaptable, living in wilderness, rural, suburban, and even urban areas. They eat a wide range of foods from small rodents, to birds, fruits, berries, and grains.

Coyote Tracks

Tracks: Coyote footprints are oval-shaped and measure approximately 2.5 inches long by 2 inches wide. They register four toes with claws in both front and hind feet. Their tracks are relatively symmetrical, though they can show a slight lead toe/claw that allows left and right feet to be differentiated. Their foot pad is roughly triangular-shaped. The hind foot is slightly smaller than the front foot and registers a smaller foot pad. The photo to the right shows a hind track above a front track.

coyote tracks

Coyotes utilize a variety of gaits, including walking, trotting, loping, and galloping gaits. One of their favored gaits is an overstep trot, where front and hind feet on the same side of the body land close together, with the hind landing slightly ahead of the front. These trotting gaits leave a line of tracks that is very straight and narrow. When utilizing a trot, step lengths between groups of tracks often measure from 15 to 22 inches. The picture below shows a slow trot, where each hind track has landed slightly behind the front track.

coyote tracks

Coyote Sign

Scat: Coyote scat is often rope-like, very tapered, and spongy, with a diameter of approximately 1/2 of an inch. The contents can vary widely due to their omnivorous diet, though it is often gray-colored and filled with hair and bones of small rodents. It is usually placed in the middle of trails, dirt roads, or trail/road intersections. Latrines (places where multiple scats have been deposited) are common. Coyote scat often does not have much of a scent.

coyote scat

FREE Mini Survival Guide: "Thriving in the Outdoors"

In this 9-page guide, you'll discover keys to starting a fire, building a shelter, purifying water, finding food... and many more life-saving skills.

Get your FREE copy now by signing up to our list. Discover more.

Similar Tracks: Domestic dog tracks are often mistaken as coyote footprints. Tracks of domestic dogs are generally rounder, have blunt nails, and are less symmetrical. Another feature that helps distinguish coyote from domestic dog tracks relates to the negative space between the toes and pad. On coyotes, an X-shape can be drawn in the negative space, whereas on most domestic dogs, the negative space does not form an X-shape. For comparison, pictured below is a coyote footprint (on the left) next to a domestic dog track (on the right).

coyote track
domestic dog track

By the way, wilderness survival is an important skill set for anyone tracking animals and spending time in the outdoors. Every year hikers perish from hypothermia, dehydration, and other hazards. You can learn the core skills of survival through our online class, Essential Wilderness Survival Skills.

coyote trackingCoyote captured with a motion-sensing camera

Elbroch 2003, Halfpenny 1999, Murie 1954, Rezendes 1999.

Additional Resources:

Coyote Tracks - Bear Tracker's Pages

Related Courses:

Wildlife Tracking Courses at Alderleaf

About the Author: Jason Knight is the Director at Alderleaf Wilderness College. He has been teaching wilderness skills for over twenty years. Learn more about Jason Knight.

Return from Coyote Footprints back to Wildlife Tracking Articles

Is The Essential Wilderness Survival Skills Course Right for You? Take the "Online Survival Training Readiness" Quiz

See for yourself if this eye-opening course is a good fit for you. It takes just a few minutes! Get your Survival Training Readiness Score Now!

Knowledge is Power - Grow Your Wilderness Skills! Get monthly updates on new wilderness skills articles, upcoming courses, and special opportunities. Join the free Alderleaf eNewsletter and as a bonus you'll get our mini survival guide:

wilderness survival guideThe Six Keys to Survival:
Get a free copy of our survival mini-guide and monthly tips!
Learn more