Wolves are known for being fearsome hunters who stalk their prey, often hunting in packs that swarm and overwhelm much larger prey animals. But what types of prey do these fierce predators prefer to hunt? What does a wolf eat? Do they only eat meat, or do they eat some plant foods as well? Keep reading to find out more!
What You'll Learn Today
What Do Wolves Mainly Eat?
Wolves mainly eat meat; they are opportunistic carnivores, meaning they will eat a variety of prey animals depending on what is available to them.
Most wolves prefer ungulates, which are large hoofed animals such as deer, bison, elk, and moose. They will also eat smaller mammals such as hares and rabbits, beavers, raccoons, and rodents.
A lot of wolves will eat fish, especially salmon, and especially during the fall when they are trying to store up extra nutrients in preparation for winter.
Sometimes wolves will eat birds, including young or injured birds of prey. In fact, wolves may even prey on young or injured predators of other kinds, especially if food is scarce and they are competing over the same food sources.
Some types of wolves will even eat insects as part of their regular diet, and other wolves may eat insects if they are starving and can’t get their preferred food sources.
Essentially, wolves will eat what is available to them based on the region they live in and how plentiful their main food sources are.
Main food sources, as you might imagine, vary slightly from species to species. For example, the gray wolf eats mainly deer, elk, and other large prey animals, while the Ethiopian wolf eats mostly rodents.
Check out this video of a pack of gray wolves hunting a herd of bison.
Do Wolves Eat Only Meat?
According to North American Nature, wolves will eat up to twelve pounds of food a day, or more if they haven’t eaten in a few days. Because they are carnivores, the majority of their food is meat, but they will occasionally eat plant-based foods as well.
So, what kinds of plant foods will wolves eat? Let’s find out.
Do Wolves Eat Fruits and Vegetables?
Wolves belong to the same family as domesticated dogs. Just as your pet dog may occasionally eat carrot sticks or apple slices you give as treats, wolves will sometimes supplement their carnivorous diet with fruits and veggies they find in the wild.
This is especially true during spring and summer, when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and the wolves are fattening up to prepare for reproduction. They may also eat more fruits and vegetables during times of food shortage or if they are for some reason unable to hunt enough meat.
There is one species of wolf, the maned wolf, which is known for having a more omnivorous diet. This type of wolf eats seasonal fruits and vegetables year round as part of its regular diet, which also includes a lot of insects, rabbits, and rodents.
Other wolf species will eat fruits and vegetables as needed, particularly when plant foods are plentiful.
Wolves will eat fruits such as blueberries, apples, pears, and melons, as well as the berries growing on wild plants such as ash and bilberry. They may also eat fruits and veggies in the nightshade family such as tomatoes, pepper, and morning glories.
Do Wolves Eat Other Plant Foods?
As noted above, wolves are mostly meat-eaters. They will eat many different types of meat, but they tend to be a little more choosy when eating plant materials.
Generally, wolves do not eat plants other than fruits and vegetables. They may occasionally chew on grass to help with their digestion, but they do not eat a lot of plant foods as part of their regular diet.
In fact, for most wolf species, plant matters make up less than 5 percent of their diet. That 5 percent is mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables, which are more filling and nutritious for wolves than grass or other types of plant matter.
Wolves are opportunistic carnivores; they will hunt and eat a variety of animals, birds, fish, and even insects, depending on what’s available in their territory.
Some wolves, especially the maned wolf, also eat fruits and vegetables, but these plant foods make up a much smaller portion of their diet than animal foods.