Coyote Protecting her prey
Coyotes are opportunistic, versatile carnivores with a 90% mammalian diet, depending on the season. They primarily eat small mammals, such as voles, prairie dogs, eastern cottontails, ground squirrels, and mice, though they will eat birds, snakes, lizards, deer, javelina, and livestock, as well as large insects and other large invertebrates. Any species of birds that nests on the ground are targeted by coyotes. Though they will consume large amounts of carrion, they tend to prefer fresh meat. Part of the coyote's success as a species is its dietary adaptability. As such, coyotes have been known to eat human rubbish and domestic pets. They catch cats and dogs when they come too close to the pack. Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the coyote's diet in the autumn and winter months.
Coyotes shift their hunting techniques in accordance with their prey. When hunting small animals such as mice, they slowly stalk through the grass, and use their acute sense of smell to track down the prey. When the prey is located, the coyotes stiffen and pounce on the prey in a cat-like manner. Coyotes will commonly work in teams when hunting large ungulates such as deer. Coyotes may take turns in baiting and pursuing the deer to exhaustion, or they may drive it towards a hidden member of the pack. When attacking large prey, coyotes attack from the rear and the flanks of their prey. Occasionally they also grab the neck and head, pulling the animal down to the ground. Coyotes are persistent hunters, with successful attacks sometimes lasting as much as 21 hours; even unsuccessful ones can continue more than 8 hours before the coyotes give up. Depth of snow can affect the likelihood of a successful kill. Packs of coyotes can bring down prey as large as adult elk, which usually weigh over 250 kg (550 lbs).
The average distance covered in a night's hunting is 4 km (2½ mi).