Wolves are the ancestors of all modern dogs and were once the most widespread animal in the world. They live in packs of close family members, usually made up of a mother, father, pups and perhaps a few unrelated individuals.

These packs live and hunt in large territories, which are carefully marked and patrolled lest another pack intrude. Despite their fearsome reputation, wolves are actually quite shy and are unlikely to attack humans. In fact, we are much more dangerous to them than they are to us. Wolves are highly skilled predators, and because of human encroachment on their territories they sometimes kill farmers' sheep and cattle. This has led to a widespread extermination effort in North America, and wolves have seen their range cut to one third of its former size. So many people are afraid of wolves that they never stop to ask themselves, "What do wolves eat?" The answer is a lot more complex than you might think. Keep reading if you want to learn what really makes up the diet of these apex predators, and how they feed their pups.

Wolves weigh around 80 pounds, but they are able to hunt and kill bison weighing as much as 2000. This is because wolves have two things in their favor: stamina and numbers. Attacking large prey directly would be dangerous, so wolves instead isolate their intended victim and chase it until it is too tired to keep going. Then the wolves move in and bring their exhausted prey down. This is only necessary for the big creatures that could do serious harm to the wolves. Other times the wolves work together to panic a herd of deer, cut out a weak individual and then finish it off quickly. Wolves are actually essential to ecosystems in this respect, as they pick off sick members of a species and leave the healthier animals to flourish. Large ungulates, or hooved animals, are their preferred prey. This includes deer, bison, moose, elk, domestic cattle, muskoxen and caribou. Even a single wolf can hunt these successfully, but large, migrating herbivores are not always an option. During leaner times, wolves hunt smaller prey like rabbits, beavers, rodents and waterfowl such as ducks. If no other food is available, they will also pillage garbage cans and eat carrion to sustain themselves. Wolves are usually the top predators in their territory, and have even been known to kill young bears that venture too close.

Wolves require more than just meat to stay healthy, though. They also eat fruits and vegetables to stock up on nutrients not found in meat. They enjoy berries like blueberries, ash berries and cowberries, as well as fruit like apples and pears. Wolves also eat grass when their stomach is upset, much like a dog. Sometimes, wolves visit farms and snack not on the barnyard animals, but on the vegetables!

Baby wolves are called cubs, and most wolf litters consist of around five pups. Cubs are born, like dog puppies, with their eyes closed, deaf and totally helpless. The mother wolf nurses them on milk and keeps them in a warm den until they are nearly a month old. At this time they are able to explore the world for the first time, and the mother can get back to hunting. One member of the pack is usually designated as a babysitter to watch the cubs while the rest of the wolves hunt. At around this same time, the cubs are weaned. Their mother will bring them back food in her own stomach, regurgitating it for them at the den so that it is easier to digest. Soon, the cubs are strong enough to hunt for their own food and begin their own packs, thus continuing the legacy of these superb hunters.

Yes wolves have been known to eat many diffrent types of dogs. Most dogs that are eaten by wolves are those that stray too far from home or either puppies that are not able to escape danger. There have been many reports lately about farmers dogs getting eaten by packs of wolves that are spreading across the western part of the United States.

A What Do They Eat? project.