If you’re curious about the burying behavior of coyotes, you’ve come to the right place.

Coyotes are fascinating creatures known for their adaptability and resourcefulness.

One intriguing behavior that sets them apart from other animals is their tendency to bury their food.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this behavior, the types of food they bury, and the benefits it provides.

So, let’s dig deeper into the world of coyotes and their food burying habits.

Why do coyotes bury their food?

Coyotes are known for their resourcefulness and ability to adapt to different environments. One interesting behavior they exhibit is burying their food. This behavior serves several purposes and is an important survival strategy for these clever canines.

Survival Strategy

Burying food is an instinctual behavior that helps coyotes ensure a steady food supply, especially during times when food is scarce. By burying their prey, coyotes can create a hidden cache that they can return to later when hunger strikes. This strategy allows them to have a reliable food source even when hunting is difficult or when they need to feed their young.

Food Preservation

Another reason why coyotes bury their food is for preservation. By burying their prey, they can protect it from scavengers and spoilage. The soil acts as a natural refrigerator, keeping the food cool and preventing it from rotting. This preservation technique allows coyotes to store surplus food and ensures they have access to fresh, uncontaminated meals.

Reducing Competition

Burying food also helps coyotes reduce competition from other animals. By concealing their food, they minimize the chances of it being stolen by larger predators or other scavengers. This gives coyotes a competitive advantage and allows them to consume their meals at their own pace without the fear of losing it to a more dominant animal.

It’s important to note that burying food is not exclusive to coyotes. Other animals, such as foxes and squirrels, also exhibit similar behavior. This indicates that burying food is an effective survival strategy that has evolved in multiple species.

If you want to learn more about coyotes and their fascinating behaviors, you can visit National Geographic’s website.

What types of food do coyotes bury?

Coyotes are intelligent and resourceful animals that have developed various strategies for survival. One interesting behavior they exhibit is the burying of food. This behavior is often observed in relation to three main types of food: small prey, surplus food, and cache for later use.

Small Prey

One of the primary reasons coyotes bury their food is to store small prey that they have hunted. These can include animals such as mice, rabbits, squirrels, and birds. By burying their prey, coyotes are able to create a hidden food source that they can access later when food is scarce. This behavior demonstrates their ability to plan ahead and adapt to changing conditions.

Surplus Food

Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will scavenge on anything from carrion to discarded human food. When they come across an abundance of food, such as a large carcass or a generous food source like a dumpster, they may choose to bury the excess for future consumption. This behavior helps them to preserve their food and minimize competition from other scavengers.

Cache for Later

Coyotes also bury food as a way of creating a cache for later use. They may do this with food items that are not immediately consumable, such as large carcasses or portions of prey that they cannot finish in one sitting. By burying the food, they are able to return to it at a later time when they are hungry or when they need to feed their young. This behavior allows them to maximize the use of available resources and ensures a steady supply of food.

It is important to note that not all coyotes bury their food. Some may consume their prey immediately or leave it exposed. The decision to bury food depends on various factors including the availability of food sources, the presence of competitors or predators, and the individual coyote’s behavioral tendencies.

To learn more about coyotes and their fascinating behaviors, you can visit www.nps.gov or www.nationalgeographic.com.

How do coyotes find buried food?

One of the fascinating behaviors of coyotes is their ability to find buried food. Despite not having the strongest sense of smell among canids, coyotes have developed effective strategies for locating hidden meals. These strategies include their keen sense of smell, observing other animals, and relying on memory.

Keen Sense of Smell

Coyotes may not have the olfactory capabilities of some other animals, like bloodhounds or bears, but their sense of smell is still highly developed. They have an excellent ability to detect scents and can pick up on the faintest traces of food buried beneath the ground. In fact, studies have shown that their sense of smell is up to 100 times more powerful than that of humans. This remarkable sense allows them to detect buried food from a distance, making them efficient scavengers.

Observing Other Animals

Coyotes are intelligent and resourceful animals that often take advantage of the behaviors of other creatures. They are known to observe other animals, such as squirrels or birds, as they bury their food. By watching these animals, coyotes can learn the locations of hidden food sources. Once the other animals have left the area, coyotes will dig up the buried food and make it their own. This behavior demonstrates their ability to adapt and learn from their surroundings.


Coyotes have an impressive memory that helps them remember the locations of previously buried food. They can recall specific spots where they have found food in the past, even if it was buried weeks or months ago. This memory allows them to revisit these locations and search for more food. By relying on their memory, coyotes can efficiently find buried meals, reducing the energy and time spent searching for new sources.

So, while coyotes might not have the strongest sense of smell or the ability to dig up food as efficiently as some other animals, they have developed effective strategies for finding buried meals. Their keen sense of smell, ability to observe other animals, and impressive memory all contribute to their success as scavengers.

What are the benefits of burying food?

Many animals have unique ways of preserving their food, and one interesting behavior is observed in coyotes. These clever canines are known to bury their food for various reasons. Let’s explore the benefits of this behavior:

Protection from Spoilage

Burying food helps coyotes protect it from spoiling. By burying their prey or scavenged food, they can keep it away from exposure to air and sunlight, which can accelerate decomposition. This allows them to store their food for longer periods, ensuring a fresh and reliable source of nourishment.

Storing Food for Scarcity

In times of scarcity, when food is not readily available, coyotes rely on their ability to bury and store food. By burying excess food, they can create hidden caches that serve as reserves for leaner times. This strategic behavior allows them to have a backup supply of food when hunting or scavenging becomes challenging.

Minimizing Attention from Other Predators

Another advantage of burying food is that it helps coyotes minimize attention from other predators. By hiding their food underground, they reduce the chance of attracting competitors or scavengers. This behavior allows them to keep their food hidden from larger carnivores, such as bears or other coyotes, increasing their chances of successfully securing their meals.

Do all coyotes bury their food?

Coyotes are opportunistic predators and scavengers, known for their ability to adapt to different environments and food sources. While it is true that many coyotes do bury their food, not all of them exhibit this behavior. There are several factors that contribute to the variation among individuals when it comes to burying food.

Variation among Individuals

Just like humans, coyotes have unique personalities and behaviors. Some individuals may have a stronger instinct to bury their food compared to others. This variation can be influenced by factors such as genetics, upbringing, and social interactions within their pack. Therefore, while some coyotes may bury their food as a natural behavior, others may not exhibit this behavior at all.

Environmental Factors

The environment in which coyotes live can also play a role in whether or not they bury their food. In areas where there is an abundance of prey, such as rodents or small mammals, coyotes may not feel the need to bury their food as it is readily available. On the other hand, in environments where food is scarce or competition is high, coyotes may bury their food to protect it from other scavengers and ensure a future food source.

Availability of Food

The availability of food can greatly influence the burying behavior of coyotes. When food is plentiful, they may choose to consume it immediately rather than burying it for later. However, during times of scarcity, coyotes are more likely to bury excess food to ensure a steady food supply in the future. This behavior is especially common during the winter months when food sources can be limited.

It is important to note that the burying behavior of coyotes is not limited to just food. They may also bury other items such as bones, toys, or even trash. This behavior serves multiple purposes, including caching food for later consumption, marking territory, and hiding valuable resources from competitors.

For more information on coyote behavior and ecology, you can visit the National Park Service website or read scientific studies conducted by researchers in the field.

The Role of Food Burying in Ecosystem

When we think of animals burying their food, we often picture squirrels hiding away acorns for the winter. However, another species known for its food-burying behavior is the coyote. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, and their burying habits play a crucial role in the ecosystem. Let’s explore some of the reasons why coyotes bury their food.

Seed Dispersal

One significant benefit of coyotes burying their food is the unintentional seed dispersal they facilitate. As coyotes bury their prey, they often drop seeds from the plants or fruits that they have consumed. These seeds can then germinate and grow into new plants. This process helps to maintain biodiversity and promote the growth of various plant species.

Research has shown that coyotes can distribute seeds over long distances, allowing for colonization of new areas by different plant species. For example, a study conducted in the Grand Canyon National Park found that coyotes were responsible for dispersing the seeds of various plant species, including berries, grasses, and even cacti.

Nutrient Redistribution

Another important role of food burying by coyotes is nutrient redistribution. When coyotes bury their prey, they often leave behind parts of the carcass that they cannot consume. These leftover parts, such as bones and organs, act as a source of nutrients for other organisms in the ecosystem.

By burying their food, coyotes effectively redistribute these nutrients throughout the environment. This can enhance the fertility of the soil and provide essential resources for scavengers, insects, and microorganisms. In this way, coyotes contribute to the overall health and balance of the ecosystem.

Impact on Plant Growth

The act of burying food by coyotes can also have a direct impact on plant growth. When coyotes bury their prey, they often dig shallow holes in the ground. As they cover the food with soil, they inadvertently create small patches of disturbed soil.

These disturbed areas can be beneficial for certain plant species, as they provide an opportunity for seeds to germinate in nutrient-rich soil. Additionally, the digging action of the coyotes can aerate the soil, improving its structure and allowing for better water infiltration.

It is important to note that the extent to which coyotes bury their food can vary depending on factors such as the availability of prey and competition with other scavengers. However, their food-burying behavior, even in small quantities, has a profound impact on the ecosystem.

Human and Coyote Conflicts

Coyotes are highly adaptable creatures that have successfully expanded their range to include urban areas. This has led to an increase in human and coyote encounters, as these animals adapt to the human-altered landscape. Understanding the nature of these conflicts and implementing preventive measures is crucial for both human safety and the well-being of coyotes.

Coyote Encounters in Urban Areas

The encroachment of urban developments into natural habitats has resulted in overlapping territories between humans and coyotes. As a result, it is not uncommon to encounter a coyote in a suburban or even urban environment. These encounters can be surprising and, in some cases, alarming to residents who are not familiar with the behavior of these animals.

Coyotes are generally shy and wary of humans, but they may become bolder in urban areas where they have become habituated to human presence. It is important to remember that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such. Approaching or feeding them can lead to aggressive behavior, which can be dangerous for both humans and the coyotes themselves.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Conflicts

There are several preventive measures that individuals and communities can take to reduce conflicts with coyotes:

  • Secure garbage bins: Coyotes are attracted to easily accessible food sources, such as improperly secured garbage bins. Ensuring that bins are tightly sealed and not easily tipped over can help prevent coyotes from scavenging in residential areas.
  • Keep small pets indoors: Coyotes may view small pets, such as cats or small dogs, as potential prey. Keeping pets indoors or supervised when outside can help reduce the risk of encounters with coyotes.
  • Clear vegetation and debris: Removing dense vegetation and debris from yards can reduce potential hiding spots for coyotes and discourage them from frequenting residential areas.
  • Install fencing: Installing sturdy fencing can help deter coyotes from entering yards. Fencing should be at least six feet tall and extend into the ground to prevent digging underneath.

It is important to note that lethal control methods, such as trapping or poisoning, are not effective long-term solutions and can have unintended consequences. Instead, implementing non-lethal methods and coexisting with coyotes in urban areas is a more sustainable approach.

For more information on coexisting with coyotes and preventing conflicts, visit the Humane Society or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife websites.


In conclusion, coyotes bury their food as a survival strategy, to preserve and store food for later, and to reduce competition from other predators.

They bury a variety of food, including small prey, surplus food, and food they cache for later.

Coyotes have remarkable abilities to find buried food, relying on their keen sense of smell, observing other animals, and memory.

The benefits of burying food include protection from spoilage, storing food for scarcity, and minimizing attention from other predators.

Not all coyotes bury their food, as there can be variation among individuals and factors like the environment and food availability.

Food burying also plays a crucial role in the ecosystem, aiding in seed dispersal, nutrient redistribution, and impacting plant growth.

While coyotes can sometimes come into conflict with humans in urban areas, preventive measures can be taken to reduce these conflicts.

So, the next time you spot a coyote in the wild, remember their fascinating food burying behavior and the important role it plays in their survival.

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