Coyotes are known to be opportunistic eaters — they eat whatever is available. This is one of the many reasons they are such good survivors.
Coyotes eat voles, gophers, rats, mice, squirrels, skunks, food left out by humans — including the plastic sandwich wrappers which have been found in their scat, pet food, carrion and road-kill, fruit off of trees or that has fallen to the ground, palm seeds, snails, peanuts, grass.
They normally hunt alone — after all, the prey is small and could not be divided very well between a number of coyotes. But they can and do sometimes work in groups to capture larger and more fierce prey, such as raccoons. A large raccoon can hold its own against a single coyote.
In some areas coyotes eat deer — and they have taken down such animals — but the more common behavior is to feed on these animals once they are already dead: dead from disease, road-kill, still-born, or shot by a hunter and left to die. And, they have taken small farm animals. Like pets, farm animals need to be protected from animals who see them as food — as we ourselves do.
Today I watched a coyote nibble and chew on . . . . . a rock? Yummmm. . . . . rocky road — literally! The coyote spent six full minutes here and worked hard on it — the same way he would have worked on a much more pliable bone. The coyote twisted this way and that way to work on the rock. He approached from up high and from low and from the sides. When he was done, he walked off. I went up to the rock afterwards to see if there was anything there. No, there wasn’t. Zooming in on the photos at home afterwards showed that nothing was there besides the rock itself.
Might the coyote have found a patch of lichens which had some flavor? Might a human have spilled something there which might have flavored the rock? I couldn’t figure it out, but I did take photos of the event. Then afterwards I thought, wow, this probably did some real damage to that coyote’s teeth — front and side teeth had gnawed on hard rock. Then again, could the coyote have actually been trying to take care of a tooth problem, such as dislodging something from between his teeth — using the rock as a tooth pick or dental floss? Or, maybe, the coyote was just playing and curious: there was a little “lip” on the rock which would have made it easy to “grab” this part of the rock between teeth, maybe the coyote was trying to break it off? Coyotes do love to play, with each other or with things they find: in this way they experiment and test the world around themselves as they satisfy their strong sense of curiosity.