How Much Food Does a Coyote Eat In A Day?

the menu at a wildlife rehabilitation center

the menu at a wildlife rehabilitation center: this menu will be fed at least twice a day and dry chow is always available

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, they will capture cats when these become opportunistically available to them: please keep your cats indoors so that they don’t become part of the food chain .  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 the biggest 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 all at once. 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, 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!!

7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jake
    Dec 12, 2019 @ 22:57:57

    elk had to be destroyed an adult elk was consumed in 1 hour how many coyotes would be required to do this


  2. Tirzah M Hoff
    Jul 23, 2022 @ 06:57:30

    In Riverside CA . I have seen and heard coyotes attack cats and dogs and kill them, I’ve seen a dog chase a coyote and when people were out of site the coyote started to play with the dog and lured the dog off the property while two other coyotes were waiting across the street. Before killing the dog and right before they kill the dog they howl and you can hear the dog yapping and getting killed in the middle of all that noise. Coyotes do kill dogs and eat them


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jul 29, 2022 @ 15:50:23

      Hi Tirzah —

      Yes, coyotes are known to have grabbed small dogs and run off with them. Please keep all small pets leashed and walk away from a coyote the minute you see one. The rest of your “information” is absolutely untrue. 1) Coyotes are totally silent when they hunt — they do not howl at a kill — they wouldn’t want to advertise this to other coyotes in the area. 2) Coyotes don’t “play” with dogs or “lure” them. What you might perceive as “play” is “testing” behavior. If your dog were leashed, you could prevent this. Nor do coyotes “lure”: see this posting:

  3. isaak
    Sep 18, 2022 @ 18:58:08

    haw do you know if thats all they eat 3 gogers over a 1-3 day period


  4. Trackback: Will a Coyote Eat a Dead Coyote? (And Dead Animals?) - Animal Giant

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: