Wolves eat the smaller bones of their prey, especially the bones they can comfortably digest and process with their teeth, like the ribs and some other smaller bones. They will usually leave the skull and the spine of the animal, especially if the animal is on the bigger side.
Wolves, like dogs, will eat bones because they’re high in calcium and other materials, but also because they’ve been programmed to do so through evolution.
They are very efficient hunters and will consume as much food from the animals they catch as possible, which is necessary when they hunt in packs.
Do Wolves Eat Bones?
Yes, wolves will eat smaller bones like ribs and legs of the animal, as well as the front limbs and other small bones they can extract.
This tendency to consume bones is likely down to evolution. Wolves have descended from the same origin species as dogs, which was believed to be significantly larger than both the dog and the wolf.
That common ancestor animal also had larger teeth and jaws, which would explain why it was able to eat bones of the larger animals it caught.
As a consequence, this same typical behavior was extended down to dogs in particular, but also to wolves to some extent. Dogs are actually more often prepared to eat bones than wolves, but the latter will also do that when it comes to survival.
Wolves like to be as efficient as possible when they hunt, as they prefer to leave as little meat and food behind them as possible.
They have learned to do that because of cycles of starvation, and most of the time it is a necessity for wolves to eat the bones in order to get as much food as possible.
A study examining the eating patterns of the wolf packs has found that larger wolf packs will leave much less meat behind them than smaller packs. Even a pack of 15 wolves will consume much more meat and even bones than a 10-wolf pack.
If the wolves cannot consume all of the bones at the same time, they will store them and dig them into the ground for harder times.
Read Also: Do Wolves Eat Sheep?
Why Do Wolves Eat Bones?
Wolves will eat bones because they’re high in calcium and other minerals, which are crucial for their health, but also because they don’t like to waste food when they hunt.
There are two main reasons as to why wolves eat the bones of their prey:
- Bones are high in minerals, especially in calcium. That is why wolves see bones as a decent type of food they can also cache for a later date.
- They don’t like to let any food go to waste, so they will consume as much of the animal they catch as possible.
Another reason why wolves are able to digest bones is that they have more acidic stomachs.
The gastric acids of wolves range between 1-2 pH, which is much lower when compared to human acids, which are at around 2-3.5 pH. This means that their stomach will take longer to process food and the acidic contents inside their stomachs are more capable of degrading it.
Raw bones have much more calories and have more minerals than cooked bones, so it’s unlikely that wolves would eat cooked bones.
In nature, they consume raw bones that are slightly smaller and manageable, which allows them to chew on the bones.
The first part of the animals wolves eat is their intestines and their stomachs, although they might not eat the entire contents of the stomach, especially if they go after larger animals that eat grass.
Then, they move onto meat and the muscles of the animal, which is the most important part of their diet.
One wolf can eat around 20 pounds of meat in one feeding, which is an extraordinary amount if we compare it to our consumption of meat.
Wolves will then move onto the bones of the animal, especially the smaller bones. They want to get to the bone marrow inside the bone, which means they might have to consume the entire bones – ribs, legs, and other smaller bones are consumed, while the larger bones are left to rot.
Are Bones Bad for Wolves?
While bones contain a lot of materials that can benefit the health of the wolf and they’re good for their teeth, they might also become dangerous if wolves don’t consume the bones right and might even lead to their death through suffocation.
Because bones can be very pointy and sharp, they can potentially cause problems to the wolf that eats it, especially if they can’t chew them down to smaller pieces.
A sharp bone might be sharp enough to pierce through one of the internal organs of the wolf such as the stomach, which can potentially be dangerous.
That is why they will normally avoid larger and tougher bones, because they wouldn’t be able to chew them down into smaller pieces.
Another potential problem that bones might cause to wolves is choking.
This will happen if the wolf tries to consume a bone that’s too large for its throat, causing severe problems with choking that might result in the death of the wolf.
So despite the fact that bones can have several benefits for the wolves, there are also some dangers associated with bones that might be causing premature deaths in wolves.
However, these complications with bones are quite rare and are often avoided by not eating the larger bones of the prey.
Bones are one of the parts of the animal that wolves will leave if they can’t consume them comfortably. Because bones that are too large might cause health problems and even death, they will avoid eating larger bones and will resort to eating smaller bones.
Eating bones can have several benefits for the wolf, though. It provides them with essential minerals like calcium, but it also strengthens their teeth health, which is why they will eat smaller bones they can chew on properly.