Do Coyotes Eat Their Prey Alive? Pets vs Large And Small Animals

Prey being eaten alive by another animal can be a scary sight. This happens often in the wild and can be necessary for survival. It has been said that adrenaline causes the prey to numb itself as it gets eaten alive, that they don’t feel anything and die soon after.

It’s also said that different animals feel pain in different ways. We don’t know if this is true or if its just humans trying to feel better about watching this gruesome ordeal.

Predates don’t always kill their prey before eating it, so do coyotes eat their prey alive?

A coyote doesn’t usually eat live prey. This predator will only eat its prey alive if the coyote is hunting a large animal and is part of a pack. The coyotes will disable the animal by attacking the legs, allow it to fall down then feast on it. If the animal is small, a single coyote will crush the animal’s throat suffocating it and killing it. The prey can also die from shock as the coyote does this.

Do coyotes eat their prey alive?

It depends, circumstances dictate whether the coyote will eat its prey alive or not. It’s much easier to eat something that isn’t moving than an animal that is trying to run away.

Small animals:

Coyotes will kill a smaller animal before eating it. When the coyote attacks the smaller animal it bites the animal’s neck, crushing it between its teeth and compressing the animal’s windpipe.

This crushing causes the prey to suffocate and die. In addition, shock and fear of death can overwhelm the prey as the coyote crushes the windpipe. This fear can cause the prey to die before the animal suffocates.

If the prey does not die then the coyote may still eat the prey if the prey is not moving too much

Large animlas:

If the animal is too large and the coyote cannot crush the animal’s neck then the coyote will eat the animal live. This generally happens when a group of coyotes are trying to prey on a large animal.

In this case, the coyotes will attack the animal on its hamstring.

This cripples the animal making it much easier to attack. When the prey starts to show signs of becoming weak and disabled the coyotes will use its teeth to tear into the underside of the animal causing blood loss and making it weaker.

The prey falls and the pack will feed on the animal.


Coyotes that live close to urban areas can attack your dog and or cat. The coyotes can drag your animal away on its leash and drag it over fences.

You can try to separate the two but scare tactics such as hazing are not as effective once the coyote has started attacking and eating your domestic pet. If the coyote doesn’t kill your animal and you separate the two animals the injuries suffered by your domestic pets can fatal.

Coyotes eat animals like dogs, raccoons, squirrels, skunks and cats to name a few, click the links to read more. Wolves may attack coyotes but won’t eat them, click to read more here.

Benefits of animals eating dead prey:

Killing an animal before eating it is more ethical (then again, an animal’s first instinct is to survive not to feel pity for the animal it’s feeding on). This feeding technique makes the whole process of eating more efficient and safer for the predatory animal.

If an animal is still alive while being eaten then the prey can struggle and run away. This sometimes happens and the predator loses out on this food. In some cases, the prey can injure the predator as it is trying to escape.

Some animal kicks can seriously injure the predator and can even be fatal. In this case, it’s more efficient to eat a dead animal

Benefits of animals eating live prey:

Sometimes eating living prey is better than killing it and eating it. Some animals like hyenas will quickly eat their prey alive to avoid a larger predatory animal swooping in and eating it.

If a single male lion is in the vicinity and it notices that a clan of hyenas has brought down a large prey animal then it will be inclined to steal some of the food.

For this reason, a pack of hyenas will quickly eat the prey while it’s still living, still running or still standing. In addition, because hyenas jaws can’t wrap around the necks of large animals and kill them it’s more efficient to eat the animal alive.

What animal can kill a coyote?

Animals that can kill coyotes are wolves, mountain lions, and bears. One of the main animals that used to kill coyotes in mass are humans. Humans killed off coyotes by means of hunting and trapping. This does not happen as often any more.


Depending on the circumstance, coyotes can eat their prey while it’s still alive or kill it beforehand. In situations where prey would be eaten alive, the coyote pack will attack the large animal on its hamstring and paralyse it. They will then attack it until it goes down.

If the animal is smaller than the coyote then the lone coyote will attack the animal’s neck. The coyote’s teeth will crush the animal’s throat and the animal will die of suffocation or shock. The coyote will then go on to eat its prey.

Do Coyotes Eat Their Prey Alive? Pets vs Large And Small Animals
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