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Do Wolves Eat Plants & Vegetables?

Wolves primarily eat ungulates, making up between 80-90% of the animals they prey on, depending on seasonality and region.

Wolves are carnivores, meaning they need meat to survive. 

All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts) x
All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts)

However, they do also eat plants from time to time, though only under certain circumstances.

While they can’t survive on plants alone, they can avoid starvation for a couple of days by eating plants.

In this article, we’ll talk more about when wolves eat plants, why they do it, and how much they eat.

Do Wolves Eat Plants & Vegetables?

Yes, wolves do occasionally eat plants, but it’s not their primary source of food. They may eat fruits and plants as snacks, or to avoid starvation.

Wolves typically hunt for food. But what about when there’s no prey around?

When there is no prey around to eat, wolves can turn to plants and fruits as a source of food. Plant-eating in wolves is not uncommon, though they only eat a little bit. 

Wolves may eat plants, fruits, vegetables, or even plain grass.

What Plants Do Wolves Eat?

Some of the common plant foods wolves like are:

  • Berries (blueberries, huckleberry)
  • Acorns (white oak)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grasses
  • Bulbs of many kinds including lilies
  • Wild onions
  • Roots
  • Herbaceous flowering plants, including yarrows, St John’s wort slipper, sagebrush honeysuckle
  • Woody shrubs wolf

They can almost eat any plants they can find.

As stated, plants can’t make up the entirety of a wolf’s diet, as they need protein to survive.

Do Wolves Eat Fruits?

Yes, wolves do also eat fruits. They mainly do this when starving, as a snack, or as supplements. 

Wolves like sugary fruits like cherries or blueberries. They do not like acidic fruits but will eat them if nothing else is available.

Wolves do in fact do this for nutrition purposes. They can’t get every vitamin they need from meat and will turn to fruits to get the necessary vitamins and minerals that their body needs.

It’s been observed that wolves like to snack on berries that they find wild hunting, traveling, or scouting for prey. They even feed berries to their younglings.

Wildlife Society suggests that wild blueberries may be a valuable food source for wolves north of Minnesota.[1]

What Fruits Do Wolves Eat?

Fruits that wolves do enjoy eating the most are berries, including:

  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Wolves will also eat fruit plants, such as apples and grapes. 

This is more common with wolves in captivity settings than wild ones since the plant life of wolf habitats tends to be very sparse with little variety or flavor compared to human food sources. 

Do Wolves Eat Vegetables Intentionally?

Yes, they do eat vegetables intentionally. Wolves do this for nutritional purposes to get the necessary vitamins and minerals that their body needs, or to avoid starving.

Like all other living things, wolves need nutrition. They need to eat in order to live.

Wolves are predators, hunting prey animals that they’ll then eat. But it can occur, that there’s no prey around. Wolves may turn to plants and vegetables when this happens.

They can also eat plants, fruits, and vegetables for necessary minerals and vitamins, that they otherwise can’t get from meat.

Some common vegetable wolves are carrots, celery, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes. 

How Many Plants Do Wolves Eat?

Wolves’ diet consists of 80-90% meat and 10-20% plants, vegetables, and fruits, depending on the season and the region. 

In the spring and summer, when there’s an abundance of prey, wolves eat mostly meat. But in the fall and winter, when prey is scarcer, they’ll consume more plants to fulfill their nutritional needs.

Wolves may also turn to fish for food, as they’re particularly fond of salmon.

One species of wolves, known as Sea Wolves, feed primarily on food from the ocean, making up about 90% of their diet.

As stated earlier, wolves prefer to eat meat, but they’ll eat plants if they have to. They may also consume grass to treat stomach aches, much like dogs do.[2]

sea wolves

Why Do Wolves Eat Plants?

Wolves primarily eat plants for three reasons: to avoid starving, to treat an upset stomach, or as snacks for nutritional supplements.

One of the primary reasons that wolves eat plants is because nothing else is available. 

They’re opportunistic feeders, meaning they’ll eat whatever they can get their paws on. If there’s no meat available, then they’ll turn to plants instead.

Another reason that wolves consume plants is to fulfill their nutritional needs. Plants contain a variety of essential vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in meat. This is especially true for vitamin C, which comes from fruits and vegetables.

When Prey is Unavailable

Wolves eat a lot. They eat about 2 pounds of meat a day, just to stay alive. If they want to reproduce, they’ll eat about 5 to 7 pounds of meat. Hence, eating is very important to them.

If no prey is available, and they’ve gone some time without food, they will turn to plants.

wolves-in-nature

When Their Stomach Is Upset

Wolves eat grass when their stomachs are upset because certain types of vegetation can help to calm down an irritated digestive system. 

For instance, dogs often eat grass in order to vomit up something they ate that didn’t agree with them. 

The grass is also very rich in fiber, which can help settle an upset stomach.

Wolves Eat Fruits as Snacks for Vitamins

Wolves will only consume fruits as a snack. Even though they are carnivores, they still enjoy a sweet treat.

Whenever wolves are scouting, or simply traveling from one den site to another, they may eat berries that they find along the way.

This behavior helps them supplement their meaty diet with vitamins and minerals, which they otherwise wouldn’t get. Wolves are very active and need to stay healthy to survive.

Are Wolves Omnivores or Carnivores?

Wolves are carnivores[3]

Wolves are predators. They use advanced hunting tactics to hunt down and kill their prey, and they do so with their pack, most of the time.

When wolves are hunting together, they can take down almost all animals, including elk, moose, and bison. Sometimes they do hunt alone, which is when they’ll hunt for smaller prey such as hares or rodents.

Related: Are wolves omnivores or carnivores?

What Do Wolves Primarily Eat?

Wolves primarily eat ungulates, making up between 80-90% of the animals they prey on, depending on seasonality and region.

When wolves hunt for food, they prefer preying on large animals. Large animals provide more food for the pack, and since all members need a lot of food, it’s easier to hunt for one large elk than ten small rabbits.

Ungulates make up the majority of wolves’ diet, about 80-90%[3]. Among these, Cervids (or deer) are the most commonly preyed on.

Related: What do wolves eat?

Conclusion

Wolves do eat plants and vegetables when they are in need of certain vitamins or minerals. They may also eat plants if no prey animals are around. When it comes to fruits, wolves like to snack on berries that they find while scouting or traveling.

Wolves are carnivores, living primarily off of meat from ungulates. They hunt and kill animals for food, and are highly skilled hunters.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.