What Do Wolves Eat? (20 Food Sources Examined!)

Wolves are primarily carnivores, so they’ll hunt other animals for food. It’s typical for them to go through periods of feast and famine, as they search for food.

They’re not particularly picky eaters but they just won’t eat some types of food. In this article, we’ll go through different types of food and examine whether wolves eat it or not. Interestingly, they’ll eat a lot of pets and farm animals – so if you live somewhere near wolves, it’s best to keep your pets and animals safe!

Take note that wolved don’t eat all of the foods listed here, so scroll to the food and see what we’ve discovered about whether wolves eat it or not!

What Do Wolves Eat?

Foxes

No, wolves do not usually kill and eat foxes, although they can do that if the conditions are right.

Both foxes and wolves are carnivores, and they hunt smaller mammals and rodents for food. These two don’t usually hurt each other, even though the wolf is larger and more powerful than a fox.

A fox is still not on the menu for wolves, although it can be if it’s going through a period of famine. That’s when a wolf won’t choose its foods so meticulously, and will eat anything it can find including foxes!

what do wolves eat

Coyotes

Wolves do not eat coyotes, as it prefers to eat smaller animals of prey that are easier to fight and kill.

A coyote is very similar to a wolf in terms of hunting, as they will gather in groups in order to target larger animals of prey.

But hunting and eating a coyote is not viable for the wolves, because a coyote will fight back fiercely, first of all, so the wolf just won’t bother. Secondly, these animals tend to actively avoid each other, which they do by examining clues in their territory in order to avoid conflict between the two.

Deer

Yes, wolves eat deer. Deer is one of the primary types of food for wolves that live in forests and on the outskirts of towns and cities. This is especially typical for wolves that live in slightly milder climates of North America and Europe.

Even though deer are slightly larger in size than wolves, they make it easier for themselves to hunt deer by hunting in packs, which is a more effective tactic for wolves as they target animals that are larger than them.

Ungulates, in general, represent one of the primary food choices for wolves. They are an abundant type of prey so they can find it quite easily, although a deer can outrun a wolf if it comes down to a chase.

Go Deeper: Do Wolves Eat their Prey Alive?

Snakes

Wolves will eat snakes if there are no other types of food that they prefer, such as smaller mammals and ungulates.

They tend to prefer snakes that are slightly easier to catch, so they go for smaller snakes that are not poisonous. Larger snakes that have poison will fight back and might eventually cause enough damage to repel wolf attacks. In some cases, these attacks might even end badly for the wolf, especially if they come across poisonous snakes.

Snakes are not the preferred type of food for wolves, though. They’ll only go after them if they can’t find their preferred types of food, or if they’re going through a famine.

Chocolate

Wolves would eat chocolate if they were presented with it, although there are not many instances or evidence of wolves actually eating it.

Like for most canids, chocolate would be toxic for wolves, though. We know that dogs – or most dogs – like to eat chocolate, so it’s highly likely that wolves would eat it, too.

However, chocolate would present a danger for wolves, just like it does for dogs. Chocolate contains some ingredients that are toxic for wolves, such as caffeine and theobromine, so it might make them sick. They’re attracted to chocolate because of its attractive smell and sweet taste.

Pigs

Yes, wolves will eat both domestic pigs and wild boars. To hunt down wild boars in their territory, they have to group up and attack them in packs, but killing a boar is not always the easiest task.

Firstly, boars are fast runners, so they can outrun wolves, too. But they are also strong if they fight back, as they have strong teeth that can hurt wolves. Boar populations are going out of control fast, although wolves might help decrease the number of boars.

In terms of domestic pigs, wolves will sometimes attack domestic pigs that are resting out in the open. However, they are also capable of killing a domestic pig that has escaped from its pen.

Rabbits

Wolves will eat rabbits, as they present a healthy meal for them with many useful nutrients, and they’re not that hard to catch.

Wolves particularly like to eat smaller mammals such as rabbits, because they don’t offer much resistance and are not that hard to track down. The predators will use their smell to examine rabbit faeces and establish the position of rabbits, which might prove useful for them as they look for food.

The “battle” between rabbits and wolves usually comes down to a race, where wolves can outrun rabbits, but rabbits are more agile and they can hide in small crevices and holes along the way, making it slightly harder for wolves to catch them.

Frogs

Wolves will eat frogs, but only if they can’t find their preferred types of food.

They will occasionally enjoy a small snack and catch frogs, although they don’t particularly like this type of food. One of the main problems with frogs is that they’re only available in certain locations with a lot of humidity and water.

This means that wolves and frogs don’t meet each other that often. But when or if they do, wolves will take the opportunity to eat the frog as a snack, as long as the frog is healthy and not poisonous.

Plants

Wolves will also eat some plant food sources to supplement their meat intake, but the correlation between meat-based foods and plants is somewhere around 80-20 in favor of meat.

Some of the primary plant-based foods that wolves tend to eat include grass, seeds, sedges, acorns, and even some types of fruit. However, they don’t turn to these foods unless there is a notable absence of meat-based foods in their habitats.

Plants allow wolves to get some nutrients that are not found in meats, most notably vitamins and also some minerals that they use to supplement their diets.

Bones

Wolves do not normally eat bones of the animals they catch, and they’ll only eat the bones that they can chew up and digest easily.

When examining carcasses of animals that have been caught by wolves, you would see that wolves will usually leave larger parts of carcasses and bones intact, while they focus on meat and inner parts.

The first thing that wolves would eat from an animal is its guts. This is its preferred type of food that they go to when they catch an animal.

Bison

Wolves do eat bison, but they have to group up and hunt in packs in order to kill it.

A bison is significantly larger than a wolf so wolves have to collaborate with each other to take down the bison. Usually, they’ll try to corner one bison and leave it stranded from the rest of the group while they surround it and leave it no chance for escaping.

Also, a bison is relatively fast and sometimes even faster than a wolf, so it can outrun a pack of wolves. However, wolves will try to bite the bison at its legs in order to cripple it, allowing them to catch up easier and bring it down.

Beavers

Wolves will eat beavers, although these two animals don’t normally find themselves in the same habitats.

Beavers live in mountainous areas with a lot of water and rivers, so they might only encounter wolves very briefly and on relatively rare occasions. These encounters do not last long and usually end up with the beaver hiding in its den in order to protect itself from wolf attacks.

Sometimes, that’s not enough; if the beaver is caught out in the open, it’s game over. A wolf might also be able to reach into the beaver’s den, although that’s unlikely since the den has smaller holes.

Cows

Wolves eat cows. They’re one of the primary types of food they’ll attack when they have the opportunity to do so when nobody’s watching.

Wolves will often attack smaller types of livestock such as sheep and goats, but they’re not afraid to attack cows, which are often defenseless. The main issue is that farmers have fences that are easily scalable or not up to par with the wolves’ ability to climb.

This leaves the cows exposed, especially at dusk if they’re not safely tucked away inside a barn.

Read Also: Do Wolves Eat Horses?

Caribou

Wolves eat caribou, which especially happens in colder areas where caribous and wolves share territories.

Like we’ve already mentioned, wolves prefer to eat ungulates that provide enough food for the entire pack. Reindeers, though, only live in subarctic areas and tundra where there are not many other animals. Unfortunately for them, that’s also where many types of wolves live.

Wolves will attack the caribou in packs, enabling them to take it down more efficiently. Still, that might not be enough as the caribou is capable of outrunning wolves.

Cougars

No, wolves don’t eat cougars. They’re both apex predators, so they don’t have natural predators, and they often avoid each other in order to avoid conflict.

However, there have been some reports of wolf attacks on cougars, although it’s highly likely that those attacks weren’t meant for wolves to get food. These fights most likely occur due to territorial issues, as both animals are quite territorial and might get aggressive towards other species.

Cats

Wolves eat cats that they can find and kill easily, although a cat is a very agile animal that’s often too quick and deceptive for the wolf.

If the opportunity presents itself, though, a wolf will kill and eat a cat. They often prey on cats that can’t defend themselves such as sickly and older cats. However, a wolf is also strong enough to catch a young and healthy feline.

So if you own a cat and you live in a wolf area, it’s best to keep your cat indoors and safe at night!

Chickens

Yes, wolves eat chickens.

They attack chicken pens that are easily accessible and decimate the chicken population inside. They present an easy snack for wolves because they can’t defend themselves and they can’t run away or fly.

Wolves will also easily catch and eat chickens that wander out of their pens.

Fish

Yes, wolves will also eat fish, as several studies and reports have demonstrated.

They don’t leave many clues as they catch fish such as bears and other animals do, so this meant that many people believed that wolves don’t catch fish at all.

In truth though, wolves will turn to fish if they live in an area where they can catch fish, and will especially happen if no other food sources are readily available to them.

Apples

Wolves might eat apples, and it’s unclear to know whether they will eat apples or not. It also largely depends on each individual, just like with dogs – some like to eat apples, while others don’t.

They will sometimes supplement their meat-based foods with vegetables and fruits, especially if they can’t find other food sources around.

Owls

Wolves will eat owls if they can catch them, although that doesn’t happen very often.

They will mostly focus on owls that can’t fly or defend themselves and are stranded on the ground for some reason. This includes elderly owls as well as younger owls that might be left alone in the wild. As we’ve mentioned, wolves will eat almost anything they can find in the wild, especially if it is a meat-based source of food.

Read More: Do Arctic Wolves Eat Polar Bears?

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, a complete list of foods that wolves eat and don’t eat. You’ll find many surprises in the list as well as many obvious foods such as deer and caribou. Some foods are hard to measure if wolves eat such as apples and chocolate, although there have been reports of wolves eating both.