Wolves occasionally eat plants and vegetables, but it’s by no means their primary source of food. They primarily eat meat but will supplement with other types of food when needed, especially when there’s a shortage of food.
A study by Stahler et al from 2006 has confirmed the notion that wolves eat vegetables and plants intentionally, especially during the summer.
The researchers have found vegetation in the summer scats of wolves, which indicates that a portion of their diet will consist of vegetables, especially when there are no other foods around.
Do Wolves Eat Plants and Vegetables?
The primary source of food for wolves are ungulates and other larger herd animals they can kill and hunt down as packs.
Wolves are highly skilled hunters, especially when it comes to chasing down and killing larger animals. They have developed specific techniques that help them isolate the weaker animals of the herd, allowing them the chance to hunt down the isolated animals much easier.
The primary source of food for wolves will be ungulates.
Depending on the part of the world the wolf lives in, they will depend on different types of ungulates for food. Most wolves will hunt deer, elk, bison, caribou (in colder parts of the world) as well as the musk-oxen, while they might also attack livestock such as cows and especially bulls.
Other foods include smaller mammals and rodents. It is indicated that wolves prefer to hunt on smaller animals especially when they’re alone, such as when alpha males wander away from their packs.
Some of the smaller mammals they hunt include rabbits and squirrels, beavers, as well as rodents like mice. They prefer these foods when they’re alone and when they are away from their pack.
However, some wolves, especially during the summer, might consume non-meat foods like vegetables and other herbivorous foods. These include grasses as well as potential traces of vegetables that they might consume when hunting other herbivorous animals.
Do Wolves Eat Vegetables Intentionally?
Yes, wolves will eat vegetables and fruits intentionally in the wild.
Several studies have confirmed the presence of vegetables in a wolf’s scat. While some wolves will consume vegetables unintentionally, it is believed that wolves will eat veggies and fruits to supplement their diets.
When they kill and hunt smaller mammals especially, they will often consume the entire animal. This means that they will also consume their stomach which includes vegetables and other traces of non-meat foods such as fruits. And this could potentially distort the studies which found that wolves eat vegetables.
However, the studies have also found a high enough presence of vegetables in their scats to suggest that they eat vegetables intentionally. This occurs especially during the summer where the primary focus of the wolves will be on ungulates like deer, and they will look to supplement their diet with vegetables and fruits they can forage in the wild.
Although fruits are not their primary type of food, it is believed they will occasionally eat them either as a snack or for pure enjoyment to get something that tastes sweet.
What Plants and Vegetables do Wolves Eat?
The primary type of vegetables they eat is grass, which is meant to improve their immune system and boost their metabolism, especially after they have eaten only meat for several days.
Wolves will consume grass to calm down their stomach problems, which might come often after consuming a larger animal. As wolves have an upset stomach, they will look to calm it down by eating plants – primarily grass.
Other vegetables and fruits that studies have found in wolf scats include:
- And others
By eating these foods, they will add a crucial element to their food, and that is additional vitamins and minerals. These foods are rich in vitamins and essentially, minerals, which are meant to help the wolf do better with its digestion but also keep it healthier.
These foods have been found especially during the summer in wolf scats, so the prevalence suggests that wolves will mostly eat meat-based foods in the winter, and keep their diets slightly more varied during the summer.
While this might be surprising to some people, it will not seem too unusual especially for dog owners who will tell you that their dogs like to eat plants, too.
How Many Plants Do Wolves Eat?
The primary source of food for wolves will still be meat-based foods, which might consist of up to 90% of the entire wolf diet. The other 10% will either be fruits, vegetables, plants, and other matter that they might consume like bones.
So it is highly likely that a large portion of that 10% of vegetables they eat comes from intentional vegetable eating. That 10% are also most likely consumed during the summer when they actively look for plant-based foods and matter, which is meant to supplement their diet and improve their metabolism.
However, a small portion of that percentage is also likely to be made out of foods and vegetables that wolves eat unintentionally.
This happens when wolves hunt plant-eating animals and eat them whole. While they might leave out the stomach contents of the larger animals, it is usual to see wolves eat smaller mammals and plant-eating animals whole, which means they’ll also eat their stomach contents that are full of vegetables.
Again, that number is probably quite low but it’s still something to consider when talking about how much vegetable wolves eat.
In the end, wolves are still carnivorous animals that prefer a meat-heavy diet. Their primary source of food will be larger ungulates they catch as a pack, and they will occasionally also consume smaller mammals and plant-eating animals.
However, a small portion of their diet will be made up of vegetables they eat intentionally, which happens especially in the summer. That’s when they will eat plants like grass and especially fruits, which can boost their overall health and improve their metabolism.