The Real Reason Wolves Regurgitate Blueberries

Wolves and blueberries seem like they'd go together like break dancing and Vaseline, but as Science News tells us, the lupine predators have a low-key thing for the delicious superfood. Science is well aware that grey wolves have a habit of occasionally snacking on a bunch of blueberries should they come across them, but so far, the assumption has been that, well, wolves like a full belly and blueberries are delicious. It's not like they're relying on berries for sustenance or anything. Come on, it's wolves. They're hardcore. They eat meat, and hunt deer, and fight Liam Neeson in The Grey

Yeah, about that. Biologist Austin Homkes of Northern Michigan University, an expert on the "dietary and predatory habits" of the wolf, thought he was heading for a pack devouring a freshly killed prey when he followed their signals to a location in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota. Instead, he found a meeting point where adult wolves were bringing food to their pups — and saw one wolf calmly regurgitate a bunch of slightly used blueberries for several wolf pups to eat. 

Wolfing down their fruit

So, what's the meaning of all this? Have ... have wolves gone vegan? Probably not. Instead, it looks like researchers are only now discovering a fairly big dietary thing about wolves that has been there all along, but no one has really thought about. There are many sightings of wolves treating themselves to a blueberry or sixteen when lounging about, but until this, no one had thought to join the dotted lines between this behavior and its larger dietary meaning. Since the whole "regurgitating blueberry throw-up porridge for our young" situation appears to be a thing within the wolf community, all those blueberry-munching adults have now started to make sense, and researchers now theorize that fruit may be an "underappreciated food source" for wolf pups in particular. This is part of a larger realization within the scientific community: Wolves have a vastly varied diet, and while they're most famous for the whole "hunting hooved animals" thing, they're happy to chow down anything from fish to small mammals ... and, it now appears, fruit. 

Apart from granting us more understanding of a species that both fascinates and terrifies the human race, the discovery of blueberry wolves has opened new, interesting avenues of research. For instance, Austin Homkes hopes to study the exact nutritional value of blueberries and other fruit on the animals. For instance, a pack might find itself in a world of trouble if the berry year is bad and they have grown too reliant on that sweet, sweet blueberry fix.