Coyotes are primarily carnivores and mainly eat small and large mammals, although they also prey on birds, snakes, lizards, amphibians, crustaceans, fish and insects. When fresh meat is not available, they eat carrion, including cannibalizing the dead of their own species. They sometimes feed on a variety of fruit and vegetables.
On their own, coyotes hunt various types of rabbits and rodents. In pairs or packs, they hunt large mammals, such as deer, bison, elk, sheep, young black bears and mountain lions. Coyotes have an excellent sense of smell and use it to track prey. When they are close, they stalk the prey and pounce upon it. However, sometimes they chase their prey, as they are among the fastest mammals in North America, able to run up to 40 mph. When they are close to human habitations, coyotes often prey on domestic livestock such as sheep, goats, cattle and poultry. Sometimes coyotes attack household pets.
To supplement their carnivorous diet and obtain extra moisture during dry seasons, coyotes eat fruits and vegetables such as watermelons, cantaloupe, apples, peaches, pears, prickly pears, blackberries and blueberries. Sometimes they raid domestic melon patches in search of moisture. They have also been known to eat grains, such as corn and wheat.