Wolf Diet

Three Pack Photo © Monty Sloan

Diet

What do wolves eat?

Wolves are carnivores (meat eaters) but they will eat other foods as well. Their diet ranges from big game, such as elk and moose, to earthworms, berries and grasshoppers.

To avoid using too much energy catching their food, wolves prey on weaker members of a herd, such as old, young or sick animals. In summer, when the herds migrate, wolves eat mice, birds and even fish. They may also eat carrion.

Wolves eat their food very quickly, probably to protect it from being stolen, and to decrease the chance of attack from other predators. They eat the best parts first, and come back later for the remainder, as they can’t afford to be wasteful. They will hide food in the snow, or icy soil, which helps to preserve it, and protect it from scavengers.

Wolves can eat every 5-6 hours when there is plenty of food available, or they can fast and live on scraps for 2 weeks when there is less food around.

Their digestion is very efficient, with all but 5 percent of large meat feeds able to be digested. Any splinters of bone that are not broken down somehow become wrapped in undigested hair, which protects the intestines from injury.

Pups are fed by the adults who disgorge fresh meat from their stomachs, or carry back fresh pieces of meat to the den.

Biologists learn much about the diet of wolves by studying their waste products, which are called ‘scats’.

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