Mountain Lion vs Coyote Key Differences

Mountain lions and coyotes are very well-known predators of the North American continent. They have a very active presence in the United States of America. The scary sounds of these animals like howling, yowling, and growling are also common in these animals. If we look at their size, there is an obvious difference between them which we can easily notice. The mountain lion is a much bigger animal than a coyote. But it doesn’t mean that the coyote could not challenge big animals like mountain lions.

Both of these animals also share territory with each other. It is obvious that they will cross their path at some point in their daily routine life. If this happens then it is obvious that the fight would happen between them. That’s why we are going to compare mountain lion vs coyote based on their physical traits and social behavior in detail to let you know who could have an upper hand in the fight between these animals.

Mountain Lion vs Coyote Differences
Mountain Lion vs Coyote.

Brief introduction of mountain lion

The mountain lion is known for its many names like puma, cougar, catamount, etc. It is considered among the biggest wild cats in North America. The size of the mountain lion is comparable to the size of a tiger or lion. It mainly resides in the northern side of the USA. Generally, the territory of the mountain lion extends from Canada in the North to Argentina in the South.

A mountain lion walking in mountains
Mountain Lion – Example

Brief introduction of Coyote

A coyote is actually a wild dog that has also been named a prairie or bush wolf. It has pointed ears, long legs, and a bushy tail. It is much smaller in size as compared to the size of the mountain lion. They show a lot of resemblance with the wolves and also belong to the same canine family. The coat color of the coyote is tawny brown or red but the underbelly color of the coyote is fully white or cream color.

What are the main differences between mountain lions and coyotes?

Differences between mountain lions and coyotes
Mountains lions are 3 times the length of coyotes.

The main difference between these animals comes in terms of their sizes and scientific families. The mountain lion is among the largest cats of the Felidae family which is almost 8 feet long and weighs up to 130 pounds. A coyote is a wild dog belonging to the Canis family which is almost 3 feet long excluding its tail and weighs up to 45 pounds.

The difference in their size is the key factor that impacts their tendency to fight with each other. The coyote is also considered a small wolf and the mountain lion is considered among the most vicious and the largest cats of the feline family. However, the size of these animals could not only be the deciding factor between these animals we must also compare based on some other aspects of their life.

Comparing coyote vs mountain lion

FeaturesMountain lionCoyote
SizeHeight: 2-3 ft till the shoulder Weight: 60-130 pounds Length: 5-8 ftHeight: 2-2.2 feet Weight: 15-45 pounds Length: 2.5-3 ft
Speed30 mph35-40 mph
Offensive abilitiesPowerful jaws along with a very powerful bite force of almost 1311 N, 2-inch long canines681 N bite force, 1.5-inch long canines.
Defense mechanismLarge size, good sensesSpeed and excellent senses
Predatory behaviorStalker, ambush their prey at the most opportune time.Hunt in packs, ambushing their prey.
Conservation statusNow least concern but the population is decreasing.Least concern
Life spanIn the wild: 10 years In captivity: 24 yearsIn the wild: 8 years In captivity: 14 years

Let’s compare mountain lions with coyotes on the basis of their main features or characteristics.

Size: mountain lion vs coyote

When it comes to size, the mountain lion is much larger in size as compared to the coyote. They are almost 3 feet tall, 8 feet long and the weight lies between 60 to 130 pounds. The largest mountain lion has been spotted with a weight of almost 270 pounds.

On the other hand, the coyote is just 2 feet tall, 3 feet long and the weight of the coyote lies between 15 to 45 pounds. It seems like the mountain lion is three times the weight of the coyote. A mountain lion has a clear size advantage over a coyote.

Speed: coyote vs mountain lion

If the coyotes are not very heavy then they are also very agile and can easily outrun the big animal like mountain lion. The maximum speed of the coyote varies between 35 to 40 mph while the mountain lion can run with the maximum speed of 30 mph. High speed and less weight also make coyotes more agile as compared to mountain lions.

Offensive abilities: Mountain lions vs coyotes

Offensive abilities: Mountain lions vs coyotes
Mountain lions have 2 inch long teeth and powerful jaws. Their claws are also 2.5 inch long.

Both of these animals are notorious for their offensiveness and vicious activities. Coyote has a very powerful bite force of 88 BFQ along with long teeth and a strong jaw. Once they hold their prey, they don’t let them loose and easily kill them and tear apart their flesh. They strike with a powerful bite force and speed to give the maximum impact on the weak point of their opponents.

On the other hand, mountain lions also fully utilize their big size and power in controlling the big and powerful animals. They have 2-inch long teeth, a powerful jaw, and the bite force is much stronger than the coyotes. They also come with 2.5-inches long claws. Usually, they prefer to kill their opponents in a single fatal blow.

In offensiveness, the mountain lion has an upper hand over the coyote.

Defense mechanism: Coyotes vs Mountain Lions

Coyotes have some features which are helpful in defending their predators. First of all, they are very fast. They can also sense the danger from very far away and vacate the place as soon as possible. They also like to hunt in packs especially if they are dealing with dangerous and large animals.

Mountain lions also have good senses and big sizes to keep them safe. They also emit very scary growls as a warning sign to their opponents. Overall, the coyote has a better defense mechanism as compared to the mountain lion.

Predatory behavior

Coyotes are opportunistic predators and they can also hunt in packs.
Coyotes are opportunistic predators and they can also hunt in packs.

Coyotes are opportunistic predators and persistent hunters. They also like to hunt in packs. They can easily hunt small prey by grabbing it from the neck and taking it down on the ground. If they are hunting in packs, they also achieve success most of the time.

Mountain lion stalk and ambush their prey at the most opportune time. They like to hunt alone rather than in a pack. They also have their hunting skills or techniques. When they catch their prey, they grab or wrap it with the help of their strong claws and take it to the ground and give the final blow on the head or skill with the massive bite or strong claws.

Social behavior

Mountain lions like to be alone and they only make pair if they have to mate with the other animals. They also like to hunt alone by applying their own techniques but many mountain lions have been spotted at the same place many times. They climb very well and are also good at hiding. They also use this hiding to their advantage by waiting for the opportune time to ambush the possible prey in their area.

On the other hand, coyotes are very social animals and prefer to hunt in packs. They live and hunt together and also communicate with the help of their unique sounds like howling, yipping, barking, etc. They also have excellent hearing sense and like to hide in case of any danger or if they are stalking some prey. They have long and powerful teeth which are helpful in tearing apart their prey.


Habitat of the mountain lions
Mountain lions make habitats where they can easily find their prey.

The habitat of the mountain lion stretches from Canada to the argentine in the south. They always prefer places where they can easily find an abundance of prey. The living place of the mountain lion would always be some higher place like the mountains. They don’t like to travel a lot in search of food. They also like to swim a lot. They can easily swim for a very long distance without having any difficulty.

On the other hand, coyotes prefer to live in open fields, forests, mountains, and Semi-urban areas. Nowadays, they are living very close to urban areas due to the scarcity of food and the destruction of their natural habitat. They like to live in their dens. Coyotes could also live in the deserts if they can easily find prey there. They also like to swim across rivers and prefer live near places like rivers, seas, etc.

Life span

It varies in both the wild and in the captivity. Mountain lions can easily live up to 10 years in the wilderness. In captivity, they can stay longer and live up to 24 years. They are solitary by nature and get together if they like to mate with each other.

On the other hand, the lifespan of a coyote is very short in the wilderness. They can live up to 8 years in the wild. In captivity, they can easily sustain up to 15 years. At an early age, they completely rely on their parents for everything.

Geographical range

Mountain lions cover a very vast range. In the extreme north, you can witness them in northern Canada. On the southern side, they also have their traces in the argentine. Some of the mountain lions were also observed in the southern side of Chile.

On the other hand, the coyote has a very limited range previously. They were limited to Central America. Now they have expanded to a very large territory. You can find them in the north in the states like Alaska. They are also very common in the Great Plains, where they are thriving very well with their families. They also have a very active presence in the Appalachian Mountains.

Mountain lion vs coyote: who would be the ultimate winner?

Mountain lion vs coyote fight: who will win?
A mountain lion will be the ultimate winner every time.

In the fight between the animals like the coyote and mountain lion, it is obvious that the mountain lion would be the ultimate winner. They have bigger sizes, more power, and highly skilled killing techniques to deal with the animals like coyotes. In the fight, mountain lions first stalk coyote for some distance and then suddenly ambush it at the most opportune time.

When they meet on the ground, the mountain lion waits for a good opportunity to attack while the coyote uses its agility to its advantage and tries to run away from the scene. If the coyote moves forward for the attack, then mountain lions suddenly wrap their forelegs and dig deep their claws into the coyote.

Generally, the mountain lion attack on the head or neck to kill it immediately if they have to deal with small mammals and end the battle. The fight might take a few minutes before the mountain lion gives the final blow and kill the coyote.

Can a coyote take down a mountain lion in the battle?

In the fight between these animals, it is obvious that the mountain lion would win the fight. But the coyote is also not very weak as it seems. A few years ago, they were spotted in New Mexico while fighting with each other. Initially, the coyote was at the top and dragging the lion onto the ground by grabbing its face. Coyote has made a few very good moves while fighting.

They were going back and forth and after a few minutes, the mountain lion was able to become free from the grab of the coyote and make some offensive strikes. In a few minutes, the mountain lion came on top of the coyote, and the coyote tried to run away from its grab. Mountain lions also run behind the coyote but they could not outrun the fast animals like coyote in the field.

Can a pack of coyotes hunt down the mountain lions?

A pack of coyotes can take down a mountain lion.
A pack of coyotes can take down a mountain lion.

Yes, a pack of coyotes can take down mountain lions, although it is not very common. Coyotes are opportunistic hunters and occasionally target big animals like deer and mountain lions. They only attack these animals if big animals like mountain lions are weak or injured. But if they are healthy enough then the animals like coyotes would not come near them as it is extremely dangerous and even the pack would take a lot of toll while dealing with the large animals like mountain lions.


Mountain lions and coyotes are wild animals that belong to two different families. The mountain lion belongs to the feline family while the coyote belongs to the canine family. Both of them share territory in many areas of the United States of America. In some areas, they cross paths and fight with each other. If the fight happens between these animals, then the mountain lion would be the ultimate winner as the mountain lion has an edge of bigger size, a powerful jaw, and bite force.

Similar Posts