How Do Coyotes Survive Against Predators?


Coyote have adapted to survive against predators in many ways, and I wanted to look into some of these.

Coyotes survive by securing their territory, using their speed to outrun danger, using burrows to protect themselves, and hunting in packs.

coyote

North America is home to many coyotes, and they are found in all environments, even in urban areas such as cities. They are found from Alaska and Arctic regions and as far down south as Costa Rica. 

Coyotes are listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of nature as they are widely distributed across North America. 

When I read all these details, I found it unique when compared to other mammals. It prompted me to question how the coyotes protect themselves from their predators and have such a high population. I researched further and found that coyotes are very smart. They protect themselves from their predators in unique ways.  

In this article, I will detail all the ways how coyotes protect themselves from predators.

Securing Territory

Coyotes protect themselves by defending their territory. Coyotes live in family groups comprised of a mated pair, their offspring, as well as other family members. 

The coyote’s families are familiar with their territory and together defend their home range. Their home range is primarily from two to five square miles. Coyotes mark the boundaries of their territory with urine and will aggressively defend their space from all intruders, including other coyotes. 

Using Their Speed

Coyotes protect themselves by running away from predators. Coyotes run at a high speed of 40 km/h, allowing them to get away from most of their predators.

coyote

Mountain lions are one of the coyote’s top predators in North America. Mountain lions (cougars) are bigger than coyotes reaching up to 8 feet in length and weighing up to 139 lbs.

They occupy the same habitat as coyotes and will hunt coyotes. Mountain lions are powerful hunters, and can easily kill a coyote. However, coyotes have keen vision and keen hearing capabilities. Due to this, coyotes detect mountain lions fast and flee quickly. 

Hunting Together

Coyotes hunt in pairs or in larger groups to protect themselves from predators. Coyotes pose a serious competitive threat to the amount of food in the wild, and other animals such as wolves hunt them down to decrease this competition. The wolf is a larger cousin to the coyotes. A wolf can measure around 7 feet and weighs between 40 to 175 pounds. 

Wolves occupy the same habitat as to a coyote, such as the forest areas of the Northern States and Canada. Wolves will hunt in pairs or packs, and when they encounter coyotes, they will kill them to cut down competition for food. Wolves can sometimes eat coyotes, but this is rare.

Coyotes understand the competition from wolves and take measures against them. Coyotes will hunt in pairs to try to stop wolves acting them. When they encounter wolves, they can defend themselves and escape from predators.

Using Their Senses

Coyotes apply their keen vision and hearing to protect themselves from predators. The American alligators are among the coyote’s predators. An adult alligator can reach up to 15 feet in length and weighs up to 1,000 pounds.

They live in one of the favorite places coyotes hunts. They can be found in swamps, waterways, and bayous.

Coyotes encounter alligators while seeking to quench their thirst on the river banks. Coyotes protect themselves from alligators using their keen vision and hearing to sense what is moving in the water. 

Alligators are opportunistic and will pose a challenge to any animal trying to drink water from its habitat, including humans.

Eating What Is Available

Coyotes protect themselves from hunger by eating what food is available. Coyotes eat a variety of prey including deer, sheep, rabbits, mice, snakes, lizards, insects, berries and fruits. By having such a varied diet, coyotes are rarely involved in fights with other mammals such as wolves.

coyote

Although coyotes do have a varied diet, they will follow wolves or cougars and share their kills. Coyotes are scavengers, and they avoid confrontations at all costs.  

If you want more information on what coyotes eat, I have written an article, which you can find here.

Swimming

Coyotes are excellent swimmers, and water does not hinder coyotes from getting away from predators.

Coyotes are chased by predators such as wolves, humans and mountain lions. Even if coyotes encounter a river, they can swim across swiftly and escape.

For more information on coyotes swimming, I have written an article which you can find here.

Camouflage

Coyotes have colored fur which allows them to blend in with their environment. Coyotes in different areas of North America have different colored fur, generally matching their habitat. This provides the coyotes with outstanding camouflage ability to hide from predators. Coyotes are aware of their camouflage abilities and use this to their advantage.

Using Burrows

Coyotes dig dens or invade abandoned badger holes, hollow trees or logs, thick brush or abandoned buildings, making them their own. They defend their dens or habitat and if their security is compromised, leave the den for another. 

The coyote’s parents hide their pups at the far end of the dens, and when their safety is threatened, they will move the pups to a new location or den. Coyotes will defend their territories when cubs are young, with the male and female coyotes defending their dens together.

Vocalizations

A coyote uses various vocalizations to protect themselves from predators. Coyotes howl in the group to promote bonding within the family, and to defend themselves when an enemy invades. 

When coyotes are howling together, they let their own families and the predators that they are in charge of a specific territory. After howling, they leave a scent in their territory to mark it as their own.  

coyote

If a coyote notices an intruder in their territory, they will howl loud enough to call other coyotes. This sound also tells the intruder they are in the wrong territory. The intensity of the howl depends on the level of coyote agitation. The more agitated the coyote is, the higher the intensity.

Coyotes also bark to scare predators away when they encounter each other. The howling is also a means of communication with each other to establish a good relationship.  

Coyotes use different vocalizations to protect themselves. There are 11 different vocalizations used by an adult coyote. The vocalizations are categorized into three main categories; agonistic and alarm, contact, and alarm. 

The first category includes growls, barks, woofs, and high-frequency whines. Coyotes use a woofing noise to signal low-intensity threats or alarms. These are generally heard near den sites, prompting the pups to retreat into their burrows immediately.

Coyotes use huffs with high intensity to threaten. These vocalizations are produced by a rapid expiration of air. The barks can be classed as both long-distance threat sounds and as alarm calls.

What Is The Predator of A Coyote?

Coyotes face many predators in the wild. In North America, coyotes are easily targeted as prey by larger carnivores. 

Coyotes are attacked by mountain lions which are their top predators. Mountain lions occupy the same habitat as coyotes., and will hunt them as prey. They are very skilled and powerful hunters. Cougars will use their stealth to stalk their prey and have amazing speed to pounce on the coyote. They will dispatch the animal with a bite specifically on the back of the neck.

Wolves are cousins to coyotes, but they will hunt coyotes to lower the competition for foods in the area. They occupy the same habitat, and will generally meet in places where wolves have made a kill. Coyotes are not the wolves first choice as prey. They will kill them to cut down the competition for food, and sometimes wolves will end up eating a coyote.

Alligators are also a threat to the coyote. Although only found in swamps and riverways, they will attack a coyote near the water. A coyote on the river banks or in swampy areas is likely to be attacked by an alligator. Alligators will wait until the coyotes are drinking water and then attack them.

Grizzly bear

Brown bears are the top land predator in most of North America. The brown bear is known to hunt anything they come across and will hunt coyotes. Coyotes are not their preferred prey, but if they are hungry, they will kill and eat a coyote.

If you would like further information on coyotes, I have written a complete guide. You can find the article here.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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