Coyotes 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.
North America is home to many coyotes, and they are found in all environments, even in urban areas such as cities. They have been discovered in Alaska and Arctic regions as far 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 them unique 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 how coyotes protect themselves from predators.
Coyotes protect themselves by defending their territory. Coyotes live in family groups comprised of a mated pair, their offspring, and other family members.
The coyote’s families are familiar with their territory and defend their home range together. Their home range is primarily from two to five square miles. Coyotes mark their territory’s boundaries with urine and aggressively protect their space from all intruders, including other coyotes.
Using Their Speed
Coyotes protect themselves by running away from predators. Coyotes run at high speed of 40 km/h, allowing them to escape most predators.
Mountain lions are one of the coyote’s top predators in North America. Mountain lions (cougars) are more significant 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 potent hunters and can quickly kill a coyote. However, coyotes have keen vision and keen hearing capabilities. Due to this, coyotes detect mountain lions fast and flee quickly.
Coyotes hunt in pairs or in larger groups to protect themselves from predators. Coyotes pose a severe 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 a coyote, such as in the Northern States and Canada’s forest areas. 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 from attacking 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 hunt. 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 challenge 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 various prey, including deer, sheep, rabbits, mice, snakes, lizards, insects, berries, and fruits. Coyotes are rarely involved in fights with other mammals by having such a varied diet.
Although coyotes have a varied diet, they follow wolves or cougars and share their kills. Coyotes are scavengers, and they avoid confrontations at all costs.
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.
Coyotes have colored fur, which allows them to blend in with their environment. Coyotes in different areas of North America have other colored skin, 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.
Coyotes dig dens or invade abandoned badger holes, hollow trees or logs, thick brush, or abandoned buildings, making them their own. They defend their shelters or habitat, and if their security is compromised, they leave the shelter 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 dogs to a new location or shelter. Coyotes will defend their territories when cubs are young, with the male and female coyotes defending their holes together.
Coyote uses various vocalizations to protect themselves from predators. Coyotes howl in the group to promote bonding within the family and defend themselves when an enemy invades.
When coyotes are howling together, they let their own families and predators know they are in charge of a specific territory. After howling, they leave a scent in their environment to mark it as their own.
If a coyote notices an intruder in their territory, it will howl loud enough to call other coyotes. This sound also tells the intruder they are in the wrong part. 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. An adult coyote uses 11 other vocalizations. The vocalizations are categorized into three main categories; agonistic and alarm and contact and alarm.
The first category includes growls, barks, woofs, and high-frequency whines. Coyotes use 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. A rapid expiration of air produces these vocalizations. The barks can be classed as both long-distance threat sounds and 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 mighty hunters. Cougars will use their stealth to stalk their prey and use their speed to pounce on a 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 food in the area. They occupy the same habitat and will generally meet in places where wolves have made a kill. Coyotes are not the wolf’s first choice as prey. They will kill them to cut down the competition for food, and sometimes wolves will eat coyotes.
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 swampy areas is likely to be attacked by an alligator. Alligators will wait until the coyotes are drinking water and then attack them.
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 they will kill and eat a coyote if they are hungry.
I have written a complete guide if you want further information on coyotes. You can find the article here.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.