What Do Coyotes Eat?


I have seen coyotes eat many different types of food so have done some research about what coyotes can eat.

Small mammals such as mice, rabbits, rats, and squirrels make up three-quarters of a coyotes diet.  The remainder is combined of fruits, birds eggs, vegetables, insects and fish commonly found in coyotes habitats.

If you want to know what coyotes eat, then please read on.

What Do Coyotes Eat in the Wild?

Coyotes are commonly found in North America, and their territory is usually the plains, forests, mountains and deserts of Canada, and the United States.  Their environment and habitat dictate their diet. 

Although a large proportion of their diet is made up of mammals, coyotes will use their habitats to ensure that they get the right amount of nutrition.  Forests and woods are bountiful with small mammals, and these rodents are easily found by the coyotes. 

Is A Coyotes Diet Different In Urban Areas?

Coyotes are also found roaming populated urban areas, and this can affect their food source and diet.

In urban areas, coyotes will eat mammals such as rats, berries that have fallen from trees and food from peoples trash bins. 

Coyotes will feed on pets such as cats and small dogs. However, coyotes that live in urban areas will generally stick to their natural diet of fruits, nuts, and smaller mammals.

Coyotes are opportunistic feeders.  They will eat fruits and vegetables, along with small animals.

A study analyzed over one thousand droppings.  In the report, they found that “the most consistent substances eaten were small rodents about half, fruit around a third and deer and rabbit about a third.” 

The research shows that the coyotes stick to their natural diet as much as possible, no matter their habitat.

Coyotes are known as a pest to some.  However, rat populations have increased in urban areas where coyotes are not present.

Want to know if coyotes can swim? I have written an article, which you can read here.

What Effect Does a Coyotes Diet Have on The Ecosystem?

Coyotes also prey on baby deer (fawns) for sustenance.  Coyotes can eat up to 70 percent of the population of fawns in different environments. 

Coyotes have not been known to reduce the population drastically of deer.  This is due to the adult’s size, which the coyotes will generally not attack.

However, coyotes do assist in stabilizing and slowing the overall deer population in urban and suburban areas alike.

Coyotes are vital in controlling the numbers of deer and Canadian geese.  This plays a crucial role in balancing biodiversity in urban environments.

Deer can be a nuisance to homeowners yards, and also carry ticks and other parasites.

Coyotes benefit the ecosystem by slowing of the growth of the goose population.  

This helps to keeps parks, golf courses, and grassy areas protected against damage. 

If you have wondered if coyotes are dangerous to humans, I have written an article here.

What Foods Do Coyotes Prefer?

Coyotes are omnivores. Despite their overall omnivorous nature, they favor meat. Little mammals make up a substantial portion of their diet.  Coyotes will also occasionally prey on bigger, young mammals like calves and lambs. 

The dead bodies of other large animals are also a form of food to a coyote’s diet.  These can be as large as a bison, moose, or an elk. 

Even though they can survive on carcasses, coyotes will prefer to opt for fresh meat rather than dead animals.

The coyote’s who roam the plains have a varied diet.  Their diet consists of a lot more than just meat. 

Coyotes will feast on birds, lizards, snakes, rabbits, grass, fish and bugs.

Want more details on what coyotes eat? Find out here.

Are Coyotes Scavengers?

Being opportunistic animals, coyotes are scavengers.  In areas which have dense coyote populations, residents may notice them going through their trash cans and even snacking on pet food left outdoors. 

This behavior means coyotes are often a severe threat to pets. If a coyote views a pet as competition for sustenance, they may attack, which can be fatal. 

In an area with a lot of coyotes, people should take care when it comes to your pet and leaving any food outside.

Do Coyotes Eat Fruits and Vegetables?

Despite coyotes having an appetite for meat, they are just as happy to feed on an abundance of other food.  They will eat whatever they can track down.   The fruit is a large part of a coyote’s dietary staple.

In autumn and winter when the fruit falls, coyotes spend a lot of time eating vegetables and fruits, especially berries. 

Coyote dietary patterns change throughout the different seasons.

What do Coyotes Eat in Zoos?

Coyotes that are kept in zoo environments follow controlled daily diets.  These are similar to their natural diet and will include small rodents, vegetables and fruits, and chicken.  They will also include dry dog food.

How Does A Coyotes Diet Affect Their Anatomy?

Coyote’s chew on bones as youngsters.  The research found at the 47th Annual Meeting of the Animal Behavior Society shows the reasoning for this.  It was shown that when they chew on hard objects when they’re young, the bones in their skulls become shortened, but also enlarged.  This then allows them to eat a wider variety of food as adults. 

The researchers say this is the first time food has been shown to have such a dramatic impact on the anatomy of any animal.

Want to know what the predators of the coyote are. Find out here.

Can Coyotes Adapt To Different Diets?

Coyotes are one of the most cunning large carnivores in North America. In recent years, they have expanded their species from the rural American West to urban areas such as Los Angeles and New York. 

This success shows a coyote’s ability to adapt its diet to local surroundings.  A pack of coyotes can take down larger prey, but they can survive on peoples trash in urban areas. 

Coyotes will generally hunt at night, particularly in the urban areas.  

The perfect time for a coyote to hunt is when it is dark but also during the early morning time in urban places. 

They prefer hunting in the night and relaxing in the daylight, but will also hunt in the day if hungry.  Hunting for food at night in urban locations allows them to keep away from humans as much as possible.  A coyote’s hunger means they will be more daring in to get food, even in urban areas.

How do Coyotes Hunt?

Coyotes hunt alone but will also join up with others to hunt.  During the hunt, they try to stay as quiet as possible while taking down their prey.  They do this so that they do not alert other predators such as bears to their kill.

Coyotes hunt alone and in packs, depending on the size of their prey. If there is a much larger animal, a single coyote will not hunt it alone.  Coyotes are very intelligent and will not risk injury or death to eat their next meal.

If you would like more details on the coyote, I have written a complete guide. You can find the guide 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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