Even though wolves are territorial animals that might hurt or even kill other wolves, it’s highly unlikely that they will resort to cannibalism, as there hasn’t yet been a reported case of wolf cannibalism.
You may have read some articles on the internet saying that wolves are cannibals, but that’s just nonsense.
The truth is that while wolves do hurt and injure, and potentially kill wolves from other packs, it’s highly unlikely if not impossible to see a wolf eating another wolf. It won’t happen even if the wolves are starving and haven’t eaten in several days.
Do Wolves Eat Each Other?
Wolves are carnivores and will eat almost exclusively meat-based foods, and they’ll do that by hunting down other species either in packs or alone when they go after smaller animals. But they won’t eat other wolves, even if they are from another pack.
Cannibalism is, in fact, quite common with some species in the wild. Chimpanzees, rabbits, praying mantises, black widows, frogs, chickens, and even some tiger species have been known for eating members of their own animal group, so they can be branded as cannibals.
But if you take a closer look at why those animals eat each other, one of the most common reasons was overcrowding as well as starvation, which forced some animals to eat others in order to trim down the group and make more space for themselves.
Wolves, on the other hand, are rarely conditioned to those problems.
When they kill each other or hurt other packs, they will mostly occur because of the territorial nature of the wolves and the aggressive stance that alpha males take when there are wolf puppies in the pack that need protecting.
So while they will hurt each other and potentially kill other members of other packs, they will simply not eat each other like some other species in nature do, even if there’s a severe shortage of food.
Do Wolves Kill Each Other and Why?
Yes, wolves do kill other wolves from another pack if they get too close to their pack, or if they feel like they need to protect their younglings in the pack.
Wolves are one of the most territorial species in the world. A wolf territory can be huge, as it may range all the way between 200 and 500 miles in its radius. This means that whenever they feel like there’s another species threatening their territory, they’ll take a defensive stance.
Alpha males will actively mark their territory and let it be known to other wolves from other packs that this territory is already taken, and that they should stay clear of this territory.
Sometimes, however, that’s just not possible.
When wolves roam around in packs, some overlap is inevitable. And while they will mostly comply to these rules and avoid the territory of another pack, some alpha males will want to “conquer” the new territory so they can have more food for themselves.
When a territory is contested, the defending pack will be much more aggressive towards the potentially aggressive pack that’s attacking the territory.
And that’s when alpha males will have a go at each other, especially if there are pups in the pack of the defending wolf. That’s when the two wolves will fight each other, which will commonly occur in injuries and potentially even death because of the severe injuries that might be caused in this fight.
Sometimes, when there’s a weaker or older pack facing a younger and stronger pack, the older pack might be completely eradicated or at the very least, hurt and have its territory taken away by the attacking pack.
However, these fights are not very common, and will only happen if one of the two packs feels stronger than the other pack.
Read More: Can Wolves Smell Fear?
Do Wolves Attack and Eat Dogs?
Wolves will attack and potentially hurt dogs if they wander into their territory, although it’s unlikely that wolves will see the dog as its prey and attack it for food.
Instead, wolves will see the dog as interloping wolves and they will treat the dog as another wolf from another pack, which means that if it gets too close and the wolf feels threatened, it will attack and potentially hurt the dog.
Wolves are larger and stronger than dogs, which means that if a wolf decides to attack a dog when it approaches its territory, it will hurt it substantially and potentially even kill it.
There have been many reports of dogs being attacked by wolves, and most of those attacks didn’t end particularly well for dogs. However, none of those reports talk about wolves eating the dog once it’s killed, so it’s highly unlikely that a wolf will eat a dog.
One of the issues with dogs is that some dog species have the wrong body language when they come up against wolves.
Wolves see the upturned tail and they interpret it as that of a confident animal that isn’t afraid and is looking to attack. However, some dog species have their tails turned up naturally and they can’t change that, which means that the wolf will attack the dog as it thinks it’s potentially dangerous to its pack.
It’s also a well-known fact that wolves and dogs can interbreed, and there have been several reports when the two species were raised together, which allowed the two species to live together, develop their own social structure, and function as a pack. Attacks will only happen in the wild.
Read More: Who are Wolves’ 9 Enemies?
To conclude, wolves are not cannibals. Even if you’ve read that somewhere on the internet or heard it from someone else, it’s highly unlikely that wolves will attack other wolves solely for food.
While they will attack other wolves from another pack if it feels threatened, which might result in severe injuries or even deaths, it’s not likely that wolves will then proceed to eat the other wolves, even if there’s a shortage of food in their habitat.