The clever coyote is markedly adaptable and will exist on whatever the area offers in the way of food. They are versatile in their eating habits because they have learned to adapt to their surroundings in so many different climates and terrain. A coyote will travel over its territory using the same routes or trails. Coyotes are primarily nocturnal hunters but can be seen sometimes during the daylight hours in the early mornings or late evenings. They are swift runners, so they catch their prey easily. They eat meat, but will also eat fruit and vegetables, and fir and cedar leaves, The coyotes of the southwest especially enjoy raiding watermelon patches.
The coyote doesn’t normally attack domestic animals, although a group of coyotes may infrequently hunt larger mammals like a young deer, poultry, goats, sheep or other small livestock. Hunting is usually conducted near the den, is mostly done alone, but occasionally in pairs or family packs. Groups of coyotes will take turns driving a deer until it tires or they may chase it toward a hidden member of the pack. It has been said that a coyote will sometimes form a hunting partnership with a badger. The badger can dig fast but can’t run swiftly, whereas, the coyote can run swiftly to chase animals when they are above ground. When this type of hunting bond is formed the prey have very little chance of escaping.
Coyote studies have divulged their main diet consists of mice and other rodents, reptiles, fish, crabs, amphibians, birds, cotton-tail or jack rabbits, squirrels, insects, carrion, and fruits and berries. In urban areas a coyote might happen upon a household pet that is unattended or a garbage can to raid.
Having an excellent sense of smell, vision and hearing, the coyote often tracks its prey in a cat-like manner. If you are lucky enough to witness it hunting, you will be quite entertained. It stalks the prey for about thirty minutes and then it suddenly stiffens its legs and pounces, almost appearing as if they are dancing and playing. With an advantage of endurance, it can chase prey over long distances. After the victim is exhausted, it is easy for the coyote to seize.
Water is scarce in the southwestern desert. Sometimes the coyote has to travel several miles to locate a cattle tank or a pond beside a windmill, for a drink of water. They also acquire moisture from their diet. Everything they eat has a little moisture within. The Coyote Melons that grow on vines in the desert provide moisture for the coyote. They taste terrible to humans and most other animals.
The coyotes that thrive on the outskirts of urban sprawls take advantage of dog water bowls, ponds and fountains for their water sources. Since the coyote is so elusive, very few people ever see them though.