What Do Coyotes Eat?

What Do Coyotes Eat

No creature can live without food. Have you been wondering lately what a Coyote (an animal resembling a small wolf) eats? Is it a herbivore or a carnivore? Let’s answer all such questions of yours in this article.

First things first, what do Coyotes Eat? Even though coyotes are classified as omnivores, they are primarily carnivorous. They feed on rodents, snakes, insects, lizards, birds, and any other animals that are easy to hunt. On occasions, when they can’t hunt, they eat vegetables, fruits, and even garbage.

Coyotes are classified into the Omnivores category because they attempt to eat almost anything that comes their way.

Read on and learn more about Coyotes, their eating, living, hunting techniques/habits, and much more.

Coyotes, Good Hunters!

Coyotes, Good Hunters

In many paintings around the globe, you would have seen a patent scene of a wolf-like creature howling at the moon. That creature is not a wolf but a coyote.

Coyotes are wily, smart, and quick (can run at a speed of 64 km/hr) and are known to hunt the majority of the times at night in a pack.

They, being nocturnal, howl at the moon to communicate with the other members of its group about some danger, its territory, or about their location. The moonlight helps the coyotes to see in the darkness of the night.

As suggested by ADW, Coyotes take out three distinct sounds; one a squeak, second a distress call, and third a howl.

I’m sure it won’t be surprised if I told you that these small animals have a heightened sense of eyesight, smell, and hearing, which makes them excellent hunters.

Coyotes, the members of the Canidae family, were first found in North and Central America and also in the southern parts of Canada.

When they were first spotted, they were named Prairie Wolves. They are American Continent’s top predators and are skilled enough to not fall prey to the larger carnivores.

Coyotes are found in mountains, deserts, plains, forests, and even in tropical climates. The features and the traits of Coyotes are very similar to that of their relatives; jackals, dogs, wolves, and foxes.

The members of this family have lean bodies, bushy tails, thick fur, narrow snouts, and yellow eyes.

Coyote’s small size and fur color is a huge advantage to them; they can hide beneath anything small in the forest and not be spotted by their prey.

A Coyote weighs about 9 to 23 kgs (20 to 50 lbs), and its length from its head to the rump is around 32 to 37 inches. If quoted in simple words, it’s smaller than a wolf.

Coyote’s fur may be of different colors depending upon its habitat. They may be brown, grey, white, or tan colored. The ones that are found in or near the mountains have darker colored coats, and the ones that reside in the deserts have coats that are lighter in color.


Do Coyotes Eat Deer?

Deer is coyote’s favorite food as they eat deer more than any other animal, but it is not true that the Coyotes always brutally hunt down the deer.

92% of the time, the deer ingested by Coyotes are scavenged after being hit by a vehicle or have died as a result of some disease or an injury.

Coyotes live alone and are solitary creatures who mark the territory with their urine, but when hunting down a deer, they work in packs. They even urinate on their food to state their authority over it.

According to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web (ADW), when hunting a deer in a pack, they follow two ways of doing it.

One, they pursue the deer one by one until it tires and gives up. Another way is the group driving the prey towards a member of the group who is hidden.


How Are Coyotes Adapting To The Changes Around Them?

With increasing human encroachment, man has started taking over the habitat of the animals.

They have nowhere to go, and this is why they are slowly and steadily starting to adapt to these changes that are taking place around them. In big cities like Los Angeles and New York, spotting Coyotes have become common.

Coyotes are good at adapting to their environments, and their living in the cities has led to the killing of pets and livestock. This is traumatizing for the people living in the cities. They have to be very careful with their pets and keep a watch on them 24/7.

Coyotes can be dangerous when it comes to harming your pets, but they can be helpful in some cases. Coyotes help control the rodents that are harmful agricultural pests. If they don’t find prey, coyotes can survive on pet food and garbage also.

The male coyote can travel up to 100 miles in search of food if their residing area is overcrowded or overpopulated. Even after efforts being made by humans to eliminate coyotes in the city, they are somehow managing to maintain their high number and are even increasing in some specific areas.


What Do Coyotes Eat In Different Habitats?

In Deserts

When in a desert, Coyotes thrive on whatever is available and helps them survive in that desolate place.

Being Omnivores eat desert insects, rodents, snacks, mesquite beans, lizards, flowers, and even cactus fruit.

These creatures are wonderful travelers who travel from one place in the desert to another in search of food and their pack.


In The Wild

In the wilderness, there is ample food available for Coyotes, but there is a tough competition for that same food, and wolves are their strongest opponents. Being a small and crafty creature, it can outsmart even the fox and reach its food.

During the spring season, Coyotes prey on small mammals like rabbits, mice, fox, rodents, and voles. They also eat grasshoppers, frogs, fish, birds, snakes, deer fawns, mountain beavers, and animal carcasses.

When its summertime, hunting becomes a rare occasion, and that is the time they feed on wild berries, fruits, and grass that is available in the wild. The hunting techniques of Coyotes are beyond amazing. They are the masters of hunting.


In an Urban Setup

In the urban setting Coyotes basically, depend upon the pets and the garbage. They are predators and expedients who take advantage of any kind of situation they are in.


What Do Coyotes Eat During Winter?

What do Coyotes eat during the winter

At the time of winters, Coyotes mainly rely on animals that die due to severely cold climatic conditions.

The snow in the winters restrict the movement of the Coyotes, and this is why they prey on the few rabbits, rodents and hares that they find hidden somewhere in the snow.

During winters, also they sleep during the daytime and hunt at night when the moon is up.

Many dead white-tailed deer can be found alongside the road and also in the woods, and coyotes consume these. It takes a lot of energy to kill a deer when there is snow on the ground; this is why they have no option but to depend on the carcasses.


Who Brings Food For Coyote Offspring?

The male coyote brings food for the pups as well as for the female Coyotes. He also helps protect the newborn pups from predators.

The coyotes breed during February and March. Just before the young ones are born, the female builds a den to keep the young ones safe.

The den is built by the coyotes themselves under uprooted trees or even logs. They have more than one den so that they can move from one to the other to avoid the predators.

The female coyote stays in the den after giving birth to the pups until they open their eyes. The gestation period of a female coyote is about 63 days. She gives birth to 3 to 12 young ones at one time. The number depends on the area they live in.

The coyote newborn is called a pup, and the babies born at one time are together called litter.

Both males and females together take care of the needs of the pups. Also, when the pups are young, a non-mating coyote sibling can help the mother in taking care of the newly born pups.

The coyote pups are ready to hunt alone when they are nine months old. At 20 to 22 months old, coyotes are ready to mate. As stated by ADW, the average age of a Coyote in the wild is about ten years.


What Do Coyote Pups Eat?

For the first ten days after the birth of the pups, they are dependent on the mother’s milk. The male coyote brings food for the female so that she can produce enough milk for her litter.

When their eyes open after ten days, the male and the female coyote feed the pups regurgitated food (whatever the parents consume on day to day basis) unless the pups are old enough to consume whole food on their own.


Some Unique Facts About Coyote Habits

1. The highly developed sense of smell of coyotes helps them find food easily and also avoid predators. Their sense of smell is so strong that they can even smell a prey that is scurrying around deep under the snow.

2. The wildlife biologists observe that when the population of coyotes decreases, they suddenly react by producing larger litters. This strategy of reproduction has helped coyotes safeguard their population. This is why coyote is not an endangered species, even when humans have used several methods to exterminate them.

3. Coyotes are not like wolves that form well structure packs. They form and associate with each other in loose groups. The groups of coyotes are created based on food supply and habitat conditions. It is also seen that coyotes are comparatively less territorial than the wolves.

4. Coyotes have a habit of walking on their toes to make as little sound as possible to avoid being detected by the predators.

5. The diet of Coyotes changes according to the weather and the season. At the time of winters, when their mobility is severely reduced, their diet mainly comprises of the dead remains of the animals.

In summers as well as during the spring season, the major portion of coyotes diet comprises of rodents, grass, fruits, and vegetables. When the weather is dry, they look for food that is rich in moisture like melons, etc. they may also look for cattle water tanks or even dig deep in search of water.

6. When attacking its prey, Coyotes pounce from the front and cut deep through the prey’s head and throat.

7. When there is excess food, and the Coyotes are full to the brim, it stores its food in a safer place for future access.


Very often, it happens that coyotes are mistaken for small-sized domestic dogs. Coyotes were differentiated from the wolves after their DNAs were compared. A coyote has some peculiar features like a long bushy tail that has a black mark at the end, a narrow pointy mouth, and pointed ears. The fur on their belly is usually white.

The scientific name of coyotes is Canis Latrans, which means a ‘barking dog.’

There are about 19 subspecies that are different from each other in one way or another. All the 19 species of coyotes are the most adaptive creatures in the whole world. Coyotes have flexible food habits. They are hunters as well as scavengers.

Being a smart creature, it takes advantage of the prey that is most available around its surroundings. Coyote is an opportunistic feeder which can get active during any time of the day for food.

It likes variety, and this is why it can consume varied types of foods, fruits, vegetables, meat, or even carrion. 90% of the coyote’s diet is mammalian; rodents, rabbits, deer, etc.


Related Questions

Do coyotes eat skunks? Yes, coyotes do hunt skunks when their options are limited. They don’t really like hunting down skunks when they have other options because attracting and killing a skunk would mean soaking in the stinky natural spray that it lets out.

Do coyotes eat foxes? No, coyotes do not eat Foxes, but if found nearby, they do attack and try to kill them to avoid scarcity of food resources.

Do coyotes eat rabbits? Yes, coyotes eat rabbit as rabbits are easily found in the wilderness, in rural and also in urban areas.

Do coyotes eat dogs? No, dogs are major competitors of coyotes, but they do not prey on dogs. Coyotes also mate with dogs, and this mating results in offspring called ‘Coydogs.’

The population of coydogs is less because the pups are usually born during the winters when the temperature is too harsh. In this harsh weather, the pups rarely survive.

In this case, the male also does not help the female take care of the newborn, which further leads to poor survival rates.

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