Watch a Coyote Nip and Chomp a Man’s Hand When He Tries to Help It! Predator or Play?

Coyote Snarling
Brenda Carson/

Written by Sharon Parry

Updated: October 19, 2023

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This guy seems to have mistaken a coyote cub for a Labrador! He repeatedly tries to pet it, despite getting nipped on the hand several times. Scroll down to watch the full video of this puzzling encounter. But what do coyotes really think about humans and could you have one as a pet?

Watch the Incredible Footage Below:

Should You Disturb Coyotes?

How and Where Do Coyotes Sleep - Coyote Resting

Coyotes may look like dogs but they are very different in temperament!

Coyotes are wild animals. The pup in this clip appears to be in a den – coyotes will often dig a burrow to raise their young in. Coyote cubs are very like domestic dog puppies in that they play and that includes play fighting. This pup’s bites do not seem to be that hard. Having said that, it is adopting a defensive posture, lying on its side with its ears back. The cub did not initiate the play – it was disturbed when it was in its den.

It is not a great idea to accustom coyotes to human contact. Wild animals that are comfortable around humans can become a nuisance. They could even present a risk to domestic pets.

Do Coyotes Attack Humans?

snarling coyote

Rabid coyotes are a bigger threat to humans than healthy animals.

As coyotes learn to live in and around human settlements, they are inevitably going to come into contact with both humans and domestic animals. Between 1990 and 2004 in the Chicago metropolitan area alone, researchers identified 70 attacks on dogs, 10 attacks on cats, and some alleged attacks on ducks and pigs.

Both small and large dogs were attacked although attacks on small dogs were more common and were more likely to result in death.

The same researchers looked into coyote attacks throughout the United States and Canada between 1985 and 2006. There were 142 coyote incidents of people being bitten by coyotes resulting in 159 human victims over a wide geographic area.

Is it Normal for Coyotes to be Pets?

Lone Coyote settling in at Bad Water, Death Valley National Park

There are many reasons to not take a coyote on as a pet or to try to befriend one.

Despite some press reports to the contrary, no, coyotes do not make good pets and there are some very good reasons not to try. Coyotes do not like being chained up and can react badly to it. Also, they are very territorial and are unlikely to get on with other dogs. Because they are naturally territorial any other dogs in the household are likely to endure battles with the wild canines.

Coyotes are carnivores and have a huge appetite. They aren’t going to be happy eating kibble. If their need for meat is not met – their hunting instincts will kick in and it may result in small pets or neighboring chicken coops becoming prey. This will not make you popular with your neighbors!

It is also not a good idea to befriend a coyote. The man in the video was lucky to have gotten away unscathed and shouldn’t serve as evidence that it is safe to pet a wild coyote. For reference, the state of California has a high population of urban coyotes that are growing accustomed to living around humans. Incidents of coyotes attacking humans – including children – have increased dramatically over the last decade. In 56 of 89 cases – someone was hurt. There were 77 more cases of coyotes stalking children, chasing people, or behaving in a threatening manner. Is it worth the risk? Definitely not.

How Big Do Coyotes Get?

Do Coyotes Hunt in Packs

Coyotes living in packs tend to be larger and healthier than their solitary counterparts.

Coyotes are considered to be medium-sized canines with a wide range of weights within that category. Depending on their gender, age, and the abundance or scarcity of prey – coyotes can weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. They are typically around 48 inches in length and between 21 and 24 inches tall. These dimensions are comparable to a medium-sized pet dog.

Coyotes on the upper end of the size scale are usually alpha males or alpha females at the top of the social order. Female coyotes tend to weigh 10 – 15 pounds less than males, but this isn’t always the case. Alpha females are usually larger than average males because they eat more often and consume more calories. Healthy coyote packs have large alpha and beta members and packs, in general, fare better than lone animals. Solitary coyotes tend to be smaller and more undernourished than those living and hunting in groups.

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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