This is a picture of me standing by a hole dug out by the coyotes there is a little water in the bottom of it.

Coyote Holes

Dec 30, 2011
This place name I have heard of more than once, and like so many place names this one has a story behind it. And of course this story is about the coyotes digging holes; so if one understands why they dig these holes in the desert, they will understand the coyote better, and this of course will lead to better understanding of the entire ecosystem. To start with, the coyote is one of the top predators of the Southwest and he is everywhere all the time, yet rarely seen because the coyotes can see, hear, and smell their way through the environment in ways that make them invisible to predator and prey alike. While he is truly a well-adapted desert animal, he must have water to drink on a regular basis unlike some of the other desert creatures such as the jack rabbit or the kit fox. And so the coyote is digging machine by necessity, because it needs to get to the water.
 
I have seen holes dug by coyotes as big as five feet across and three feet deep, many times.
 
One time I found a place in the Mojave Desert where there was a lot of burros, and these burros would foul up the water with their scat and urine, why I don't know. However, when this happened the coyotes would simply dig a new water hole so that they could get to a fresh supply of water. This went on obviously for months till the area looked like it had been used for artillery practice. With the coyotes digging in a new hole, then the burros fouling it up, one right after another, as I walked up the wash to this area it was easy to tell which was the newest coyote hole - it was the one that all the birds had been standing around drinking water, and of course they flew off at my arrival.
 
The coyote uses its ability to dig at almost any spring or water source that's going dry, but almost always it digs a bigger, more extensive hole that suits it. This of course benefits a wide range of wildlife that otherwise would have to leave the area or die, and I know of no other animal that will dig out a water source like the coyote; indeed many will die before digging a water source out. I once saw this in action in the Clipper Mountains as I came up to a small spring; there were thirty or forty bighorn sheep standing around it - quite a sight to see! They were all standing around this small spring and yet it had no water - it was just a little muddy spot in the desert. Not a one of these bighorn sheep were trying to dig to the water with their feet.
 
 
So I walk back to my Jeep and got a small shovel to dig it out myself. Perhaps the coyotes here were a bunch of slackers! Anyway, I was able to get down to the water and then leave it to the bighorn sheep.
 
But getting back to “Wiley Coyote…” With all this public works done by the coyote, one has to ask if they are doing this out of a sense of community spirit or something else. Well, to anybody who knows the coyote, he really doesn't have any sense of community spirit; he is truly a loner. You don't find coyote herds like bighorn sheep or in a pack like wolves. Indeed, they are so self-centered that they don't bother with their own kind most of the time. So it would seem that there is a combination of enlightened self-interest and the design and ability of their bodies that we're dealing with here.
 
 
Of course, few if any animals that I can think of are better designed to dig out springs or water holes than the coyote. And this of course leads us to the question: why does a coyote dig a bigger hole than he himself needs? Well, it's because the coyote not only needs water but food as well. So when he digs out a spring or water hole in the desert, not only does he provide water for wide range of animals, he concentrates their activity to a relatively small area which increases his hunting efficiency by making a wider range of animals' whereabouts more predictable and more numerous. While one could wonder as to whether this is instinct or intellect, the bottom line is that it works. And it works well. And so the coyote holes that dot the desert landscape do so with their own peculiar spin in the drama of predator and prey.