How Coyotes Use Camouflage to Disappear

Can you spot the Coyote in this photo? I took this picture at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma on December 14, 2023. If I hadn’t noticed the Coyote walking into this area after leaving an open field near the auto tour road I was driving on, I may have missed it. The Coyote paused for a few minutes to watch me, and you can see in my photo how well it is hidden.

A photo of a coyote camouflaged in tall grass, barely visible thanks to its fur coloring.
Coyotes Are Masters Of Camouflage

Coyotes are masters of camouflage, thanks to a combination of physical adaptations and clever behaviors. Here’s how they disappear:

  • Coloration: Their fur changes with the seasons and habitats. Coyotes living in forests will have different fur compared to those in deserts. Forest coyotes usually have shades of brown, gray, and black fur, which mimics the trees and shadows. Desert coyotes have lighter, almost sandy-colored fur that blends with rocks and arid landscapes.
  • Disruptive patterns: The patches of fur on their bodies break up their outline, making it harder for predators and prey to spot them against a cluttered background.
  • Staying low: Coyotes are naturally low-slung animals, keeping their bellies close to the ground as they move. This reduces their profile and makes them less visible, especially in tall grass or brush.
  • Using cover: They opportunistically use the environment, taking advantage of rocks, fallen logs, and even vegetation to obscure their movements.
  • Bonus Trick: Scent masking: Coyotes sometimes roll in dirt or animal dung to mask their scent, making it even harder for prey animals to detect them.

These tricks, combined with their keen senses of sight and smell, make coyotes incredibly successful predators and survivors in various environments. They’re a true testament to the power of adaptation in the animal kingdom!

Image Information:

  • Date: 12/14/23
  • Time: 08:33 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 4000
  • Aperture: 7.1
  • Shutter: 1/500
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual