So do coyotes eat foxes? You might think so given their frequently shared proximity and shared list of prey.
I’ve researched, and written much about both foxes and coyotes. So here I’m going to outline the relationship between coyotes and foxes. Mostly within an urban environment, including the frequency of coyote and fox encounters, reported encounters, and conflicts between these two canid family members.
Here’s a quick summary first…
Coyotes attacking and eating foxes is extremely rare. Coyotes will avoid any confrontations with foxes that might lead to injury. It simply isn’t worth the risk. The abundance of food also means there is little need. Territories can more readily be shared with the competition when food is abundant.
That’s the quick answer, but let’s dive into the topic a little further to understand why this is the case.
Both coyotes and foxes belong to the canine family. Which includes dogs, jackals, and wolves. They are located throughout most continents and are usually characterized as long slender mammals, often omnivores, with long snouts, pointed ears, and bushy tails.
Do coyotes eat foxes?
Coyotes have the potential to kill and eat smaller canid species such as foxes, but the truth is that in most cases, coyotes will avoid confrontations with foxes.
This is despite some distinct advantages that coyotes have over foxes. Often, however, the choice is down to the need for a conflict, and the potential risk associated with such an encounter.
There are several reasons why coyote and fox conflicts are extremely rare. I’ll list each one below so you can see why this is the case.
Do coyotes eat foxes – Size comparison
When it comes to size, coyotes are larger than foxes, which gives them a reasonable size advantage. So in terms of sheer strength, the coyote is, overall, better equipped than the fox. Be it a gray fox, or a red fox.
For a coyote, and for that matter, a fox, the consequences of being injured in any encounter means that the animal is at a disadvantage beyond this single conflict, and could even potentially die.
Therefore, a size advantage is not necessarily going to prevent the coyote from being injured in an encounter.
Do coyotes eat foxes – Matched in numbers
Coyotes do not form packs, so strength in numbers is not an advantage in targeting a fox. They form family groups of around six animals, and they do not always travel together, so the numbers, even a few coyotes, are not necessarily enough to take down a fox without potential consequences.
Coyotes avoid confrontation
Coyotes, much like foxes, are also relatively timid animals when compared to other canids like wolves, and will typically avoid confrontation if they can.
This means that they are less likely to approach a fox, and less take on a fox, unless they are absolutely sure that they can win the fight and there is an instinctive need to enter into the confrontation.
Do coyotes eat foxes – Variations in diet and prey
The fox diet within an urban environment includes scavenging among human garbage, as well as eating rodents, rabbits, fruits, and vegetables. Whereas the diet of a coyote in an urban environment does not usually include human garbage. A coyote’s main diet will be rodents, rabbits, and other mammals.
Coyotes will take advantage of whatever food source is available to them, including carrion (dead animals). Coyotes have been seen eating roadkill on many occasions. There is also evidence that coyote scat has been found which includes fox remains, but this is very rare.
But then, do coyotes eat dead snakes?
On the other hand, foxes have rarely, if ever been seen to eat carrion. No evidence of coyote remains has ever been documented from studying fox scat either.
So for diets – certainly within urban settings, the two are not a close enough match. Therefore the principles of competition exclusion do not necessarily factor in for these two types of animals.
Do coyotes eat foxes – An abundance of food
The availability of food, rather than competition, is thought to be the main driver of how coyotes and foxes interact in these settings.
With only certain overlaps in predation and scavenging, in an urban environment, there is usually plenty of food sources available for both coyotes and foxes. Therefore, conflicts are minimal between the two groups as there is little need.
Coyotes are known to eat other animals, mainly small mammals. So it is not out of the realm of possibility that they would eat foxes if the opportunity presented itself.
However, coyotes are not specialized predators of foxes, so they are unlikely to actively seek them out as prey.
Do coyotes eat foxes – Territory overlap
Although both coyotes and foxes share common urban areas, their behavior does vary around human-populated areas.
As for behavior, coyotes are generally timider around humans than foxes are. Coyotes will also avoid areas where there has been recent human activity, whereas foxes are not as averse to such areas.
So do foxes attack coyotes?
Coyotes are generally more aggressive than foxes and will fight back if attacked. So, if a fox does attack a coyote the coyote will likely fight back and could potentially injure or even kill the fox. Incidences have been reported of fox remains in coyotes’ feces.
However, no one has specified the reason why this was found. It could be the result of an injured or prone fox encounter.
This is why, in most cases, it is highly unlikely for a fox to approach or attack a coyote. Unless the fox is absolutely sure that it can win the fight, it is in the fox’s best interest to avoid confrontation.
Do coyotes eat kit foxes?
The kit fox is the smallest species of fox. Even smaller than the fennec fox.
The average adult kit fox weighs between 3-6 pounds. Whereas the average adult coyote weighs between 20-50 pounds.
Coyotes will typically avoid attacking anything that they believe might be able to fight back effectively enough to injure them.
Therefore, encounters are rare between coyotes and kit foxes, and direct conflicts are even rare.
Do coyotes eat baby foxes?
As with any animal, coyotes will eat young foxes if they are available and easy to catch. However, this is not a common occurrence as foxes typically live in dens and are not easily accessible to predators.
Do foxes kill coyote pups?
There have been some reports of foxes killing coyote pups, but this is not a common occurrence. Most likely, if this does happen, it is due to the fox feeling threatened by the coyote or its young.
Do foxes keep coyotes away?
The presence of foxes within an urban area is not known to significantly reduce or deter the number of coyote sightings or coyote-related problems.
In fact, there have been reports of foxes and coyotes living in close proximity to one another without any apparent conflict.
It is possible that the fear of being attacked by foxes may deter coyotes from entering an area where foxes are known to reside.
Do coyotes and foxes get along?
In general, coyotes and foxes do not get along. Coyotes are typically larger and more aggressive than foxes, so conflicts between the two animals are not unknown. However, these conflicts do not usually occur as these two canids almost constantly avoid each other.
Are coyotes afraid of foxes?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as coyotes may or may not be afraid of foxes depending on the individual coyote’s experiences. However, it is worth noting that foxes are known to kill and eat coyote pups, so it is possible that some coyotes may view foxes as a threat.
Find out the differences between a fox vs a gray fox below.
Do Coyotes eat foxes – To finish up
Coyotes and foxes are not friends, but they also will not go out of their way to encounter each other.
If you happen to see a coyote and fox together, do not worry – they will likely part ways peacefully and without aggression or territorial stance. They will inherently try to avoid each other rather than get into a risky conflict.
I hope this has helped to answer the question of whether coyotes eat foxes. Be sure to check out the other posts on Ranger Planet to learn more about wildlife, or visit the Ranger Planet Youtube Channel.