No Waste: Consuming Every Bit

Although there have been occasions when I’ve seen small prey tossed aside, or maybe the head and an organ left behind, for the most part, coyotes efficiently down an entire rodent. Entirely. No waste. I’ve seen this even if the rodent is the size of a large squirrel or large gopher — say, about a pound or so. The prey is quickly killed, probably in the neck area, and then the dead animal is “crunched” repeatedly. This crunching breaks the larger bones and compresses them so that the entire animal can then be swallowed whole in a series of gulps. The prey is not usually torn apart. The head always goes down first.

In this sequence of photos I missed the initial very high pounce of the coyote — the blow that incapacitated its prey. The entire procedure from catching its prey to licking it’s chops took about one minute. The second-to-the-last slide shows the coyote marking by urinating at, or close to, the spot where it ate before moving on.

When the prey is larger, such as a raccoon, skunk or rabbit, the prey has to be torn apart in order to get the parts down, and not everything from large prey will necessarily be eaten. Most of what I’ve seen coyotes eat consists of small rodents such as voles and gophers. Once, I did see a rat — a small rodent — torn apart rather than eaten whole.

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