Is a coyote’s howl worse than its bite? Find out whether or not coyotes will attack tents here!
Coyotes are extremely unlikely to attack tents or adult humans. However, they may become curious about the food in your tent or around the site. If a coyote does come near your tent, you’ll want to make yourself seem loud, big and annoying in order to scare them away.
There’s much more to know when it comes to understanding and responding to coyotes. Continue on to learn everything you could want to know about coyotes that may be around while you’re camping.
Coyotes And Tents
It is extremely rare that coyotes will attack tents or the humans inside. Although their howls can be a bit on the creepy side, it really helps to remember that coyotes are quite small and timid. Healthy coyotes fear humans and would prefer to stay away from us.
Unlike wolves, coyotes don’t often aim to take down larger prey. There are cases in which they’ll hunt deer but typically chow down on smaller creatures like rabbits, moles, mice, birds, and even reptiles. You may even be surprised to learn that coyotes will snack on fruit and grass when the opportunity arises.
Although coyote attacks have happened. I wasn’t able to find any incident of a coyote attack happening to anyone while they were inside their tent. In Wikipedia’s compilation of known coyote attacks (source), there are only instances of people being outside their tent being attacked (there is even a misquote of an incident in Nova Scotia of an attack in a tent, but in the actual source article it’s clear she was outside her tent).
In any event, attacks are extremely rare and a little bit of knowledge will protect you.
How To Keep Coyotes Out Of Your Tent
Unless there is something that smells particularly delicious in your tent, coyotes aren’t likely to want to get too close to it. That said, younger coyotes might find it to be an interesting place to explore.
It’s far more likely that smaller creatures like mice, squirrels, insects, and snakes might find their way into your tent in search of food or shelter. In any case, it’s wise to know how to keep all the critters out.
The first step is making sure your tent windows and doors are zipped up all the way unless you’re using them. Start from the bottom and close the zipper all the way to the top to make sure it’s very difficult for creatures to get in the door.
Keeping food stored away from your tent is also a great idea. Make sure food is either hung up, locked in a secure (and even better smellproof) container, or kept in your car to avoid animals coming towards your site in search of it.
There are several more tips on keeping animals away from your tent in our article here. This article addresses bears, cougars, and other animals.
Why Would A Coyote Want In Your Tent?
Generally speaking, healthy coyotes don’t want anything to do with humans. They consider us to be big and scary, which ultimately helps to keep both them and us safe. When they keep their distance, they are at less of a risk of running into people who may want to harm them.
That said, there’s always the possibility that there may be something in your tent or site that they are interested in. Most obviously, food lingering around might draw them closer. We all get hungry, and it only makes sense that coyotes might want to seek out easy food sources that we’ve left lying around.
Just like with any animal, coyotes can be in famine conditions and be starving. In this case, a coyote may become much more bold.
Although adult humans may not be something coyotes would consider to be a worthwhile food source, our pets, and small children can have more of a risk. Keep in mind, this would refer to very small kids in the vast majority of cases, like babies or toddlers. Always keep a watchful eye on your child when in or near the wilderness.
Pets may not always be as close to us. You may have them on a long lead or something similar. Because of that, you’ll want to be extra careful if you’re bringing a smaller dog on a camping trip.
In most cases, it would be curiosity that draws coyotes closer to your tent than you might like. However, in some rare instances, it can be something more akin to illness or desperation. This situation is more dangerous and warrants a few more tools to keep yourself self.
There have been a few instances of a coyote outright attacking humans, such as this account here. It’s incredibly rare–far more rare than bear attacks, and bear attacks are in the same ballpark of likeliness as getting struck by lightning.
Does that mean we don’t need to be careful? No. we just don’t need to be afraid if we take simple precautions.
Tips For Keeping Coyotes Away From Your Site
Although coyotes might sometimes be tempted to explore near your site, they can easily be scared away. Even if you have a phobia of these creatures, it’s worth remembering that if you’re an adult human, you’re a lot bigger than they are. Use that to your advantage if you find that coyotes are taking an interest in your site. Coyotes don’t usually hunt in packs (source), which is to your advantage.
If you see or hear a coyote, it doesn’t hurt to get loud. Shout, stomp, bang on some pots, whatever you need to do to startle them away. It’s unlikely that it will take much to send them running. You can also throw rocks, sticks and other items at them if the sounds aren’t enough. If you have one, a water hose can also be a handy tool.
Do Coyotes Attack Humans At Night?
If you take anything away from this article, it should be that coyote attacks on adult humans are extremely rare. There are much greater chances of being targeted by insects, snakes or even farm animals than coyotes.
There are many people who worry about snakes while they’re camping! It’s for this reason that we’ve also written an article on whether or not snakes can bite through tents. Learn more about the subject here.
Exceptions to coyote attack rarity might include something like starvation or illness. If a coyote is extremely hungry, they may get a little braver. In turn, that means making sure to appear like even more of an effort for them to actually hunt.
In the event of illness, it’s best to keep an eye on the coyote but avoid contact with them if at all possible. Get to safety as soon as you can and alert animal control to the situation right away.
What To Do If You Meet A Coyote At Night
The recommendations for running into a coyote at night are quite similar to the ones to use if a coyote is too close to your campsite. Do your best to be big, loud and scary. Throw things at them if you can, and pick up any smaller pets or children to keep them safe. Ultimately, the goal is to scare or annoy them until they leave.
The Humane Society website offers a clear and concise guide for getting a coyote to move away from you. It presents the concept of “hazing” or, in other words, annoying the coyote. Take a look at this guide here.
How Not To Respond To A Coyote
While coyotes may not be as dangerous as a bear, cougar or other larger predator, you’ll still want to be careful. With just about any animal, there are some behaviors that may trigger them to engage. For coyotes, it’s recommended that you do not run away.
As you can imagine, this behavior is more representative of prey to them. It may cause them to become more confident and even chase after you. Even though running into a coyote may be a scary experience, do your best to stand your ground and scare the coyote off instead.
What Does A Coyote Sound Like?
When you’re out in the wilderness, it can be helpful to know the sounds of the creatures you may be sharing that space with. One of the great aspects of coyotes is that they can easily be heard without terribly close proximity.
Below, you can listen to some of the different noises that coyotes can make. Most often, you’re likely to hear howling as the different pack members communicate. However, they do make some other noises as well that are worth knowing about.
Knowing The Difference Between A Coyote Howl And A Wolf Howl
One of the biggest fears you (or other campers) may have might involve the sounds of the howls themselves. If you aren’t familiar with the differences, it can be very difficult to tell if the howling you’re listening to is that of a small coyote or something a bit more dangerous.
The following video will give you a brief insight into the sounds of wolves and their howls in particular. Something you might notice is that coyote howls are typically more high pitched than the howls of wolves.
Why Do Coyotes Howl?
In short, coyotes howl for the same reasons we humans talk or shout. They want to communicate. Sometimes, that communication may just mean calling out to other pack members. Meanwhile, they may also howl to warn other packs that they need to stay away.
As creepy as the howls might sound, they are really just intended to allow packs to stay together and keep their territory free from competing coyotes. Coyotes typically aren’t brazen enough towards humans to attempt to scare them away by howling. Additionally, howling isn’t intended for prey because the coyotes don’t want to scare away their potential meals.
What About Other Animals?
Coyotes aren’t the only animals that you might come across while camping. Bears, cougars, bats, raccoons, bobcats, snakes, foxes, deer, squirrels opossums and more may have homes in the area.
It’s worth knowing that most of these animals don’t want to come near you. There can be exceptions in areas where animals are commonly fed by humans. Many of these animals are perfectly harmless unless you attempt to harass them, but some are worth being wary of.
To learn more about whether or not other animals might attack your tent, take a look at our article on the topic here.