What Do Wolves Eat?

What do wolves eat?
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What Do Wolves Eat? Wolves are classified under a broad taxonomic family, referred to as Canidae, which also includes jackals, foxes, and coyotes.

Wolves are carnivores. They hunt opossums, fish, mice, beavers, deer, elks, mountain goats, moose, armadillos, young polar bear cubs, birds such as eagles, and bison.

Table of Contents

What do Wolves Eat?

Type of Wolf Scientific Name Diet
Gray Wolf Canis lupus Deer, elk, bison, moose, hares, rodents, and beavers.
Red Wolf Canis rufus Deer, rabbits, a vast range of rodents, and raccoons.
Ethiopian Wolf Canis simensis Giant mole rats, common rats, hares, young antelopes, and lambs.
Maned Wolf Chrysocyon brachyurus Insects, rabbits, small rodents, fruits, and vegetables.

Wolves Diet by Types

The Canidae family contains about 34 living species. 4 out of these are considered to be wolves. Wolves have numerous sub-species; however, this section will be dedicated to shedding light on the 4 main species, and their habitats.

What Do Gray Wolves Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Carnivora Canidae Canis Canis lupus

What Do Gray Wolves Eat

Gray wolves are carnivores whose broad palate includes deer, elk, bison, moose, hares, rodents, and beavers.

  • The gray wolf is also commonly known as the timber wolf.
  • Gray wolves tend to have tails that are long and bushy, and with black tips. Their coats are mainly gray and brown, but the color of their underparts varies depending on the subspecies.
  • Their sizes tend to vary depending on where they live.
  • Typically, they grow to lengths of between 3 and 5 feet, and they weigh between 40 and 175 pounds.
  • Gray wolves can be spotted in diverse habitats, including tundra, forests, savannah, deserts, and woodlands.

What Do Red Wolves Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Carnivora Canidae Canis Canis rufus

What Do Red Wolves Eat

Red wolves are opportunistic feeders whose diet includes deer, rabbits, a vast range of rodents, and raccoons.

  • The red wolf is an endangered species when compared to the other wolves.
  • These wolves assume brown and buff hues, with black on their backs.
  • They have a striking reddish color on their ears, legs, and heads.
  • Their weights can be anything between 45 and 80 pounds. Red wolves mostly inhabit marshes and coastal prairies.

What Do Ethiopian Wolves Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Carnivora Canidae Canis Canis simensis
What Do Ethiopian Wolves Eat
What Do Ethiopian Wolves Eat (Source: Wikimedia)

The Ethiopian wolf mainly consumes giant mole rats and common rats. They can also be found predating on hares, young antelopes, and lambs.

  • The Ethiopian wolves are endemic to Ethiopia, as suggested by their name.
  • This species is considered to be a very rare canid. The members of this species are slender, and they have long limbs.
  • Their black bushy tails can grow to lengths of 0. 4m.
  • Their fur is tawny red, and they tend to have a white underbelly.
  • Ethiopian wolves inhabit rocky areas, shrublands, and afro-alpine grass.

What Do Maned Wolves Eat?

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Carnivora Canidae Chrysocyon Chrysocyon brachyurus

What Do Maned Wolves Eat

Maned wolves are omnivorous. Their diets include insects, rabbits, small rodents, and the fruits and vegetables in season within their ecosystems.

  • The maned wolves get their name from the unique mane on their necks.
  • Their bodies are covered by long red-brown fur.
  • They, at times, spot a white hue on their throats, chins, and tails, while their backs, mouths, and legs are mostly black.
  • The members of this species mostly inhabit scrub forest and grassland.

How do Wolves Hunt?

For wolves, hunting is a 5-step process that involves the collaboration of a pack.

How Do Wolves Hunt

  • They start by locating prey.
  • The best part about this step is the many eyes in a pack, the better the chances of actually spotting potential prey.
  • Once a victim is located, which often is the young, sick, or injured members of a group, they then proceed to stalk it before they launch a confrontation.
  • They then chase their prey if it chooses to flee from the pack.
  • A victim is then killed once it is caught before the members of a wolf pack devour it as per their position in the pack’s hierarchy.

When Do Wolves Eat?

When Do Wolves Eat

Wolves are nocturnal animals. These organisms will be found looking for their prey from dusk.

How Often Do Wolves Eat?

How often wolves eat depends on different factors, one being the availability of food.

How Often Do Wolves Eat

  • These fierce mammals are known to lead a feast and famine lifestyle, meaning when food is in plenty, they feed as often as they can, and the reverse is valid during the famine.
  • In general, they will eat about 2.5 pounds of food a day.
  • Others, like the gray wolf, can consume as high as 22.5 pounds of food at a time. They feed less often during scarcity.

What Eats Wolves?

What Eats Wolves? Bears

Wolf predators include other wolf species, coyotes, mountain lions, and bears.

Where Do Wolves Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Wolves Animal Food Chain

Wolves play a significant role in the animal food chain.

  • They predate on a vast range of organisms, thus keeping their population under check.
  • This role ensures that their respective ecosystems are maintained in a healthy state.
  • They are also a vital food source for organisms that hunt them.

Cite this article as: "What Do Wolves Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, October 29, 2016, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-wolves-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Gray Wolf | National Wildlife Federation”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Wolf | National Geographic”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Red wolf | U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Ethiopian Wolf | African Wildlife Foundation”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Program – Learn More”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Maned wolf | Smithsonian’s National Zoo”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Maned Wolf | WWF”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “How Do Wild Wolves Hunt in a Pack? | Sciencing”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “Wolf Country, wolves as hunters, survival”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.
  • “(PDF) Dietary nutrient profiles of wild wolves: Insights for optimal dog nutrition?”. Accessed October 29, 2019. Link.

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