Will A Coyote Eat Another Coyote?

by Derrick | Last Updated: July 5, 2023


Have you ever wondered about the intriguing behavioral patterns of coyotes, specifically whether a coyote would eat another coyote? It’s an interesting fact that in extreme situations, wildlife can exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.

This blog post will delve into instances and factors which could lead a coyote to prey on its own kind. Don’t miss out, as we’re about to unlock some startling truths from the wild!

Key Takeaways

Will a Coyote Eat Another Coyote?

Coyotes have been known to exhibit cannibalistic behavior, feeding on other members of their own species.

Scavenging behavior of coyotes

Coyotes exhibit a rich diversity of behaviors, among which scavenging is quite prominent. Driven by insatiable hunger and the need for survival, these creatures can adapt to almost any environment and feed on whatever food sources avail themselves.

This flexibility in the diet allows coyotes to thrive in diverse habitats ranging from open grasslands to dense urban areas.

Interestingly, their broad-spectrum diet includes small mammals, reptiles, fruits, insects, and carrion – decaying flesh of dead animals. As opportunistic eaters, coyotes won’t shy away from feasting on carcasses they’ve stumbled upon during their quest for sustenance.

Their heightened sense of smell aids them immensely in locating such easy meals. While this behavior may seem gruesome or unsettling to us humans, it’s simply a part of the harsh reality that characterizes life in the wild – survival at all costs.

Instances of coyotes preying on other coyotes

Coyotes resort to cannibalistic behaviors under certain circumstances, and there are several documented instances of coyotes preying on each other:

  1. In harsh winter conditions, food scarcity often pushes coyotes to prey on weaker or injured members of their species for survival.
  2. Fierce territorial disputes often end in the death of one coyote, with the victorious predator sometimes consuming the carcass.
  3. During the breeding season, male coyotes kill and eat young pups within their own packs to reduce competition for mates.
  4. Notably, some biologists have observed adult coyotes killing and consuming juvenile coyotes outside their immediate family units during resource stress.
  5. Cases have been recorded where dominant alpha males consumed subordinate members to assert dominance or to show power within the pack structure.

Factors that Influence Coyote Cannibalism

Competition for resources drives coyote cannibalism.

Competition for resources

Intense rivalry for resources often triggers instances of cannibalism among coyotes. A scarcity of food, water, or territory can drive these ordinarily opportunistic predators to resort to extreme survival behaviors such as eating members of their own species.

This behavior is particularly noticeable during harsh winters when prey animals are scarce, forcing coyotes into an unusual diet that may include their fellow kin. The stronger and more dominant coyotes have a higher chance of survival in these conditions as they are better equipped to secure vital resources and then defend them from others.

So, under pressing circumstances shaped by resource competition, yes – a coyote will not shy away from eating another coyote.

Displacement and territorial disputes

Displacement and territorial disputes among coyotes can sometimes lead to instances of cannibalism. When coyotes are forced into a new territory or their existing territory is invaded by other coyotes, they may resort to aggressive behavior, including attacking and killing each other.

This territorial aggression can be fueled by competition for limited resources such as food, water, and shelter. Population density also plays a role in these conflicts, as higher densities can result in increased competition and displacement.

In such situations, the survival instinct can push some individual coyotes to prey on weaker or injured members of their own species to secure valuable resources for themselves.

Impact of population density

Coyote population density significantly impacts instances of cannibalistic behavior. Here, we’ll delve deeper into this complex relationship.

High Population DensityLow Population Density
Increased competition for food and territory often leads to heightened instances of cannibalism among coyotes.With plentiful resources and less need for territorial disputes, occurrences of cannibalism drastically decrease.
More coyotes in a given area leads to a higher likelihood of interactions, encounters, and potential conflicts.The lower rate of interactions among coyotes in sparse populations results in fewer opportunities for conflict.
Higher population densities can lead to an increase in dominance displays and fights, which can result in death and subsequent cannibalization.In areas with a lower density of coyotes, there’s typically less aggression and dominance displays, hence less cannibalistic behavior.

The Role of Coyote Cannibalism in the Ecosystem

Coyote cannibalism plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of coyote populations and provides survival benefits for those that remain.

Regulating coyote populations

Coyote cannibalism plays a crucial role in regulating coyote populations. When food becomes scarce, coyotes may resort to preying on their own kind to survive. This helps control the population size and ensures that the remaining coyotes have access to enough resources to sustain themselves.

By consuming weaker or injured individuals, more robust and healthier coyotes can thrive and continue passing on their genes. This natural mechanism helps maintain a balance within the ecosystem while allowing for the persistence of resilient individuals.

Nutritional benefits for surviving coyotes

Coyote cannibalism can provide some nutritional benefits for surviving coyotes. When food sources are scarce, a deceased coyote becomes an opportunity for other hungry individuals to gain sustenance.

By consuming the remains of their own kind, these coyotes can acquire valuable nutrients and energy that contribute to their survival in challenging environments. This behavior highlights how adaptable and resourceful these predators are when securing a meal, even if it means resorting to cannibalism.

Cannibalistic tendencies among coyotes serve as a testament to their ability to thrive even in harsh conditions where traditional prey may be limited or unavailable.


In conclusion, while it is not common, there have been instances of coyotes preying on other coyotes. Resource competition and territorial disputes can influence cannibalistic behavior among coyotes.

Despite this seemingly brutal behavior, it plays an important role in regulating coyote populations and providing nutritional benefits for surviving individuals. So yes, under certain circumstances, a coyote will eat another coyote.