Carnivore, omnivore, and scavenger, you can fit a coyote in any of these categories because a coyote is that all. It’s a carnivore because it eats meat, basically a wild animal that feeds on other animals. It’s an omnivore, too, because not just feeding on animals, but it has the habit of feeding on plants as well. Then a coyote’s nature of eating trash, garbage, dead animals, and dead plant materials, almost whatever it gets to eat, makes it a scavenger too.
The only category remaining is perhaps herbivorous, and it being a herbivore, which you might consider as well, as it eats plants. But as it doesn’t solely feed on plant materials thus cannot accurately fit in there. What do coyotes eat, all those discussed categories and a coyote fitting easily in each one of them bring us to this vast subject matter.
Actually, the question should have been what a coyote doesn’t eat. Answering that would perhaps be more manageable. So, let’s check out what this nuisance of an animal likes and prefers to eat. And no, we are not going to cover just the category but will talk about the specific food items right below.
What Do Coyotes Eat?
Forage #1 – Small Pets
Most of us have small pets in our houses. It could be dogs, cats, feral pigs, chickens, and all these are in danger if you have coyotes roaming around your house or even area. The large dogs can fight with a coyote if an attack happens, but the same cannot be said about the small cats and domestic pigs.
Even your infant is not safe from the wild coyote and could be picked by it any moment if you do not keep an eye on it. A coyote is mighty enough to kill your small pets after an easy fight and feed on themselves. Not just the small ones, even the larger ones are in danger if, in any case, lose the battle with the wild, brutal coyote.
Forage #2 – Small Birds
There are small birds everywhere. Birds need not be your pet. Hence, we had to categorize it separately. Coyotes love hunting small birds and feed on the fresh meat of it. Small birds, though can escape promptly due to their flying capability, a coyote knows how to hunt its flying prey. Rather than fighting with a cat or similar-sized animals, birds are easier to kill and eat if managed to injure and weaken them somehow.
Forage #3 – Pet Food
If you were feeding your pet dog or cat in the yard outside and went inside, leaving the pet food out in the open, a coyote will likely get notice of it. A coyote eats everything. Hence pet foods, any type for cats, dogs, birds, pigs, even chickens, and rabbits, will be a feast for them. So, do not just keep your pet animals safe from coyotes, but handle their food properly as well. Otherwise, you are basically attracting a nuisance towards your house, which will be hard to get rid of and cause never-ending misery.
Forage #4 – Garbage
If you have noticed your trash can is not in its place and all the garbage and trash are scattered all over your yard, porch, even till the roads, you can be sure it’s a coyote’s doing. It loves discarded items and enjoys making a mess while eating. A trash can will certainly have rotten forage for the coyote to eat and enjoy, and it will be plenty in quantity too. Getting food from the can will not require fighting or risking its own life, instead just a little push.
So, coyotes get easily attracted to garbage and trash cans. Hence, in the areas that have plenty of coyotes roaming around, people there are asked to handle the trash can carefully. Otherwise, the mess will be only up to them to clean and take care of. So, close the lid well. Use a solid trash can which is not easy to maul. Or keep the trash can in a place, a specific one, well-fenced, which is out-of-reach for the coyotes.
Forage #5 – Fresh Meat
Coyotes love fresh meat, hence the instant killing of prey and feeding on them. More than rotten meat, coyotes actually prefer fresh meat. 80-90% of its food eating habit depends on meat, so the love for the flesh, fresh or rotten, is undeniable. However, if you offer a coyote a fresh piece of meat and a bit of carrion, it will most likely choose the fresh meat. The opportunistic feeder knows what it loves the most as its food.
Forage #6 – Carrion
A coyote is a scavenger, so it will obviously eat dead animal’s meat or rotten flesh. As we have mentioned above, it has its liking for fresh meat but when it comes to eating carrion the interest is no less. And one has to admit that chances of getting dead animals lying here and there and feeding on them will always be easier than killing one instantly and eating. So, a coyote requires meat, fresh and carrion, both depending on the circumstances.
Forage #7 – Rats and Mice
Coyotes are known as pests and nuisances, but they prove to be a blessing for gardeners and farmers. Yes, they can destroy the gardens by eating vegetables and fruits. But by killing the crop-eating rodents like mice, rats, even squirrels, the coyotes balance the entire ecosystem. 90% of its interest in food is meat, and the easiest to kill are the small rats and mice. Hence, the more they kill and eat them, the safer the crops, vegetables, fruits, and plants are from getting destroyed.
Forage #8 – Squirrels
A nuisance loves to eat another pest, all right. The areas which are filled with squirrels can have a few coyotes here and there, and the number of squirrels might reduce, actually saving the people from the mishap the squirrels create around the vicinity. If there are enough squirrels for the coyotes to kill and feed themselves, they will have no reason to come out from the wild or wood. Hence the issues that both the nuisance animal creates will reduce at great numbers building a proper balance in the ecosystem.
Forage #9 – Rabbits
Not many people pet rabbits, but few do, and they are also seen in city areas quite often hopping from one place to another. Not too large and ferocious for the coyote to kill, neither too small for them to not enjoy the entire preying process. Therefore, rabbit meat is also one of the most favorite forage for coyotes to feed on.
Forage #10 – Dead Whitetailed Deer
Whitetailed deer are a pretty common animal seen around different areas in North America. They often come out of the woods and are seen crossing the roads. Due to collisions with the vehicles in heavy traffic areas, even roads with very little traffic, whitetails die at a reasonable rate, making the coyotes feeding themselves easier.
A whitetail means a never-ending meat source, so even if the coyotes come in a pack and start eating the whitetail, it will hardly finish. Killing a whitetail, we imply such a large animal might not be easy for the group and impossible for a single coyote. Hence these unfortunate accidents in the road arrange a coyote’s favorite meal, that too without it attempting any move to arrange it.
Forage #11 – Other Large Animals
Other than the whitetails and different deer species, coyotes feed on different large animals as well. In this case, instead of hunting and attacking them solo, coyotes attack and pursue them in a pack and enjoy the feast in a group. Wild sheep, elk, bison, even livestock, a coyote pack can kill any size and every kind.
If not in a pack, a coyote can try attacking small lambs, calves, animals that are not as small as a cat, squirrel, or rabbit but not as massive as the bison or livestock and deer too. However, feeding on large animals is not as common for coyotes as it is to eat rodents, pet animals, or garbage due to the hazards and risk factors, of course.
Forage #12 – Vegetables
Enough discussion is done on meat lover coyotes. It’s time to discuss some plant materials and vegetation that the omnivore coyote loves. Among the vegetables, melons and carrots are a coyote favorite. Coyote also enjoys eating beans, especially mesquite beans. So, all you gardeners there, keep your mesquite, melons, and carrots safe from the coyote. Otherwise, the coyotes will not hesitate to destroy your entire garden due to their love for melons, beans, and carrots.
Forage #13 – Ripe Persimmon
Not just vegetables, coyotes love different fruits, too, especially the ripe persimmon. It’s similar to dates and a top pick for the coyote. Have you been thinking of planting persimmon trees in an area filled with the intruder? Think twice or take every necessary step way prior. Be prepared to see coyotes around your vicinity because you have sown their prime attraction in your yard. The situation might get out of control once the fruits ripen and fall on your yard. The predator will enter without an iota of fear, or at least try its fullest.
Forage #14 – Berries
Other than ripe persimmons, coyotes love berries too. The fallen berries in your yard in autumn and winter are one of the coyotes’ main attractions to feed on. Not just the fallen berries in your garden, if you have berries inside your house, a stock, and keep your door wide open, you have basically welcomed the predator into your home. It has to be the scent of the berries or its bright color and extreme pulpy taste which entices the coyote more than any other fruit.
Forage #15 – Other Fruits, Even Flowers
If berries and persimmon were not enough to severely attract the coyotes towards your garden, pears, and cactus fruits, also known as prickly pear, will do the rest of the job. Coyotes in the desert thrive on cactus fruits. A coyote doesn’t leave flowers too when they are hungry and in a mood to eat.
Forage #16 – Animal Droppings
If one wants to explain a coyote’s eating anything and everything habit, this must be the limit. It eats rotten meat, we all knew about it, but it feeds on animal droppings too. People who have pets in their house are especially asked to keep their yard clean of pet poops, as it will not take too many days for the coyotes to get attracted to the stinky nasty poop and create further damage in the future, shifting their interest from animal droppings to the pet itself.
Forage #17 – Insects and Reptiles
Coyotes enjoy eating bugs and insects, especially grasshoppers. Other than that, it eats snakes, frogs, lizards, tortoises, basically various reptiles that are smaller than a coyote and are easy to kill.
Forage #18 – Ducks and Geese
The ducks and geese freely swimming in the pond near your house are not safe as well. If it’s easy prey and a source of fresh meat, coyotes will try to hunt it, kill it and feed on it. If you have your own pond and have ducks and geese on them, be careful and keep a close eye when they are outside or near even in the pond. Make sure to make them enter the shelter as soon as they are done swimming or wandering out, especially in the dark. Otherwise, one or two might vanish within seconds without you even getting a slight hint.
Forage #19 – Different Fishes
The same applies to the fishes you have in the river, lake, pond near you. The bluegill, crappies, bass, and other fishes are great forage for the coyotes. Meat is meat for the not-at-all-picky coyotes, no matter if it’s an animal or a fish.
Forage #20 – Grass
Sounds weird, but coyotes eat grass as well. The grass is, after all, a plant material. Not like the domestic animals, though, like it will get hold of grass fields and start eating grass. But it has the inclination towards a few specific kinds of grass type and is often seen enjoying eating.
More Coyote Related Information at rocwildlife
After seeing the long list, you might have thought the forages for coyotes might have ended here. But ending the list of a carnivore’s food list is nearly impossible. These were just the most common ones. And we tried to include some uncommon ones too to attempt a proper balance and keep it miscellaneous. There are many other foods and sources for coyotes. Hopefully, it will be a complete list for you to a vast extent.