Coyotes are opportunistic eaters: they eat what they can find when they need to. However they’ll concentrate on obtaining their favorite foods, when available, which include freshly caught gophers, voles, squirrels, mice, rats, opossums. They eat roadkill and other carrion. In areas where there are deer, they scavenge for deer hit by cars and they can take down the infirm and younger ungulates. And, yes, the occasional cat has been eaten when their regular food sources are scarce. They eat birds as big as chickens and as small as sparrows. But they are not totally carnivores. They eat fruit, nuts and bugs, including crickets, peanuts and watermelon. And they will nibble at human leftovers from picnic areas or the street, though this is clearly not a big part of their diet as shown by coyote scat analysis. Sandwich baggies have even been found in their scat!
Although they find and kill snakes and lizards, I have not seen them eat these. They prefer rolling on them to absorb their acrid odors, but might eat them when other food is scarce.
They’ll expend a lot of effort digging up what turns out to be a mole, only to reject it. There must be something about the flavor they don’t like. They roll on them, as they do with reptiles, to absorb the odors, and, again, when no other food is around to satisfy their hunger, they will eat them as a last resort.
I’ve wondered how *much* a coyote eats in a day, or over several days. I’ve seen three full gophers caught, chomped and gulped down, all in a row. I thought that was a lot of food. I’ve seen coyotes eat a raccoon carcass, but only part way at any one time. They returned on successive days to finish it off. It appears that they stopped eating each day when they had had their fill.
The image above is the coyote — and juvenile coyote — menu offered to injured coyotes at an animal rehabilitation center. This amount of food is obviously enough to sustain a coyote comfortably when it is not active. An active coyote would need much more than this, I would think, as would a female during gestation and while nursing young pups. The menu above looks scrumptious! There’s more variety than most dogs get. Maybe when times are tough coyotes should learn to check into their local wildlife rehabilitation center for a gourmet meal!!