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30 Animals That Eat Dead Animals (Scavenger Animals List)

two animals that eat a dead animal

30 Animals That Eat Dead Animals (Scavenger Animals List)

The existence of scavenger animals is often confusing to humans. Why do they persist in an environment that provides so little nourishment?

These animals have found a way to survive in the harshest conditions. They are quick and cunning, and most importantly, they are survivors.

Some of the most common animals that eat dead animals include hyenas, vultures, coyotes, crocodiles, and coyotes. All scavenger animals have an excellent sense of smell, which helps them track down rotting carcasses from miles away. 

Animals that eat dead animals are immensely important as they play a vital role in our ecosystems, such as decomposing organic matter and recycling nutrients.

List of Animals That Eat Dead Animals


black vulture flying

Scientific Name: Cathartes aura
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

When you hear about scavenger animals, the first thing that comes to your mind is the vulture. A not so elegant yet majestic creature that feasts on the dead bodies of other animals.

These giant birds live in habitats near deserts and savannahs, where they prey on dead or dying animals. They often are seen near water sources, as it is known that they choose to live near them.

Interestingly, vultures do not eat the bodies of dead animals that are older than four days because older carcasses will become rotten. (source)

Another thing you have to know is that their closest relatives among the birds are the storks!


jackal in a dry grass field

Scientific Name: Canis aureus
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore

If there are vultures, then there’s going to be jackals too! Like their flying competitors, they live in the savannahs, deserts, and grasslands near a water source.

Jackals are opportunistic omnivores that feed on both meat and plant-based food. However, the bulk of their diet comes from the flesh of other animals.

These dog-like creatures are adept hunters, equipped with long legs and canine teeth. They are also known for their long-distance stamina and running speeds of 40 mph.

Yet, by being scavengers, they also feed on animal carcasses – usually killed by more giant predators.


close up photo of a gray and white wolf

Scientific Name: Canis lupus
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

From the small canine to the big ones, wolves are amazing creatures due to their majestic appearance and qualities.

These animals have many skills, fascinating behavior, and a strict social system.

That often makes them the center of attention of the people and gives them the well-known image they have – predators!

Wolves live in various habitats – you can see them in tundras, temperate rainforests, and even in the desert. There are many wolf subspecies, so they have adapted to different environments.

Part of their diet is dead animals – they do the hunting, but they also scavenge for carcasses.

When hunting, they use numerous strategies utilizing the pack advantage to take down sickling, old or tired animals and turn them into a nice dinner for themselves.

Related: List of Predator Animals


male lion resting on green grass

Scientific Name: Panthera leo
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Time to pay attention to the one and only – The king of the jungle. Powerful and fearless African predator that lives in groups, known as prides.

The big cat feeds primarily on medium to large herbivore animals they hunt (female lions) and the male ones who usually come when the food is freshly caught.

Even though they hunt nonstop, they often look for dead animals. They usually steal food from their number one enemy, hyenas. However, food stealing happens in both directions.

An average adult lion needs up to 15 pounds of food per day; it is no wonder that they constantly seize the food from other predators.


big gray shark swimming

Scientific Name: Selachimorpha
Type of Animal: Fish
Diet: Carnivore

From the land to the oceans come the sharks, eating everything they can, even humans. The big fish has many subspecies, and they all feed on meat – with rare exclusions.

Although sharks are apex predators, they tend to feed on randomly found dead animals in the water.

That is mainly due to their needs, as someone of that size needs tons of calories to have their body function properly. As a result, you can often see them munching on dead animals – including whales.

In order to satisfy dietary needs, sharks eat 1 to 10 percent of their total weight per week.


black crow on the trunk of a tree

Scientific Name: Corvus
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Omnivore

Crows are birds that can be seen in many places around the world. Many people have seen movies or heard rumors about black birds that feed on dead animals.

Consequently, a crow earned itself a fathomable reputation as a death sign or death bringer.

A crow includes both meat and plants in its diet, and it does eat almost anything it can get, including roadkill, small insects, eggs, fruit seeds, etc.

These intelligent birds have a gift of stealing food from various animals, often just by being super annoying. They seem to feed most actively early in the morning and afternoon.

Read Also: List of Animals That Eat Flowers


opposum standing on tree

Scientific Name: Didelphidae
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore

Mostly known to people from the Ice Age – the movie or their garbage bin, opossums are not such cute animals. They live in woodlands where they prefer to look for food like insects, rodents, birds, and even animal carcasses.

Opossums tend to feast on such animals – especially birds and dead animals because they need a certain amount of calcium.

In addition, they munch on bones and skeletal remains of other wild creatures to get it into their diet, as they can not drink milk like humans, for example.

The most interesting fact about them is that they can play dead when they see a predator. But do not get confused – they don’t have excellent acting skills but rather a defensive mechanism.

That skill throws them into a comatose state from fear, and they can play dead like that for hours till the predator leaves (or eats them).


a red lobster on a white background

Scientific Name: Nephropidae
Type of Animal: Arthropoda 
Diet: Omnivore

Lobsters are exciting creatures that intrigue our stomachs and pique our interest with their eating habits.

You can see this animal at the bottom of the ocean, living carefree until someone catches it in their nets and brings it to your table.

However, it is not well-known that these animals feed on dead animals. Lobsters love to feast on dead carrion meat, which they find while drifting at the bottom of the ocean.

Apart from being excellent scavengers, lobsters also tend to prey on small fish they can catch and munch on.

As a matter of fact, lobsters eat almost anything they can catch – including their neighbors, as cannibalism is not unknown to them.

Aside from that, the exciting thing is that lobsters continue to grow forever. We actually don’t even know how big they can be, so be careful how many of them you eat – one day, you may become the prey!


leopard walking on a tree

Scientific Name: Panthera pardus
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Another species of big cats will scavenge when needed or when they see an opportunity.

Although many people imagine them exclusively hunting for their prey, leopards are known to eat carrion if it comes their way.

Interestingly, these spotted cats have some of the best adaptabilities among their kin. As a result, they live and spread in various areas and regions, having little to no problem adapting and surviving in multiple habitats.

Leopards are also pretty elusive and stealthy cats, and they are very hard to track; if they do not want to be found, you will hardly be able to!

Despite being carrion eaters, with a 38% success rate, leopards are the most successful hunters of all big cats.


hyena walking on a concrete road

Scientific Name: Hyaenidae
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Hyenas are types of animals that have a fearsome reputation. Laughing greedy animals from Africa can quickly kill almost any live prey on the planet.

They move in groups and often tend to look for dead animals, feed on their corpses, or steal the prey of other predators.

When it comes to these animals and the carrion they eat, it is necessary to note that they are probably the biggest scavengers.

Hyenas can eat anything, any part of the animal-like hooves, hair, even horns, and leave nothing out of it!

An interesting fact about them is that they are highly inteligent, which may come as a surprise but is true! On top of that, these animals are brave enough to fight much larger competitors, lions, as they prey on the same food.


coyote laying in the snow

Scientific Name: Canis latrans
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Next on the list of animals that eat dead animals are coyotes. These well-known carnivore species eat small animals like rabbits, mice, carrion, and even some insects.

Coyotes are seen in various regions as they are super adaptable and can eat almost anything.

They can adjust this well mainly because of humans who take over more and more of their habitats. That makes the animals move away or get accustomed to humans and even roam around some urbanized areas.

On a yearly basis, a coyote eats roughly 550 pounds of meat, double the amount of an average person.


green beetle on the white surface

Scientific Name: Coleoptera
Type of Animal: Insect
Diet: Omnivore

Beetles are flying insects found in almost every habitat in the world (except for Antarctica).

Have any of you thought that these tiny creatures feed on the bodies of decaying animals? In fact, there are many species of beetles that feed on carrion as their main dish.

With that, they play a massive role in decomposing the dead animals in the wild and helping nature itself.

An interesting fact about beetles is that most species have a set of armor on their bodies in the form of an exoskeleton, known as elytra.

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polar bear walking on the snow

Scientific Name: Ursidae
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore

Bears are not expected to eat dead animals, but in case they stumble upon a free meal, they’ll certainly take it.

As many of you know, they eat fruits, fish, and animals on which they pray, but to the surprise of many, they feast on carrion when they have the opportunity to do so.

Particularly, if the opportunity arises before they settle down for the winter, because when preparing for hibernation they may eat more than 90 lbs of food per day!

Interestingly, these enormous beasts are among the most intelligent animals.

Add the fact that they are fast, strong, and can easily munch you like a crunchy roll with their powerful jaws – you get one of the most fearsome animals on Earth.


eagle with large wings flying

Scientific Name: Accipitridae
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

These big raptors prey on small mammals, fish, and sometimes even other birds.

However, aside from hunting live prey, they are known for being birds that eat dead animals.

Eagles can be found almost anywhere globally with their vast variety of species – about 60. Most of them are distinctively different, while some have many similarities.

Each species possess exceptional eyesight. If you had their eyes, you would be able to spot an ant across the street in a tiny little crack munching on its leaf.

No wonder they are such proficient hunters.

While the eagles are the apex predator of the skies, they are also loyal birds. For example, a little-known fact about them is that they are mates for life and live a monogamous life.

Red-Tailed Hawks

red-tailed hawk flying with wings wide spread

Scientific Name: Buteo jamaicensis
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

These birds of prey can be seen in various environments like woodlands, plains, prairie groves, mountains, and open terrains.

Hawks, similarly to eagles, are predator birds that primarily feed on small to medium-sized mammals, rodents, lizards, and other bird species and also feast on carrion left by other predators.

However, they do not often rely on leftovers of other creatures, as they are top hunters. When swooping down for prey, red-tailed hawks dive at over 150 miles per hour.

On top of that, like eagles, they have fantastic eyesight – which is eight times better than our one!


seagull flying mid-air

Scientific Name: Larus
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Omnivore

Seagulls are omnivores coastal birds known for their opportunistic feeding behavior. They’ll eat just about eating, including dead animals—predominantly dead fish.

Even human trash is not unknown to them. By being voracious animals with garbage feeding behavior, gulls are also called the ‘rats of the sky.’

However, their usual diet includes small mammals, fish, amphibians, insects, and even eggs. They also munch on grain, berries, and different fruits.

Interestingly, gulls do not have any official natural predators, but they still have a unique way of protecting their food.

They will group in large numbers and harass any intruder by producing loud noises and vomiting toward it.


red fox standing in the wild

Scientific Name: Vulpes
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Omnivore

Foxes are kinds of animals that eat anything and everything. Their opportunistic and diverse diet includes various fruits and different small animals.

These canines are adept hunters, and they primarily hunt for their food. However, they are more than happy to supplement their diet with an easy meal in the form of a dead animal.

Foxes do not only use their sense of smell to locate the carcasses but also to communicate with each other, avoid predators, and find partners.

When hunting, these sly creatures stalk their target until in an attacking range. Once they are close enough, foxes pounce and capture their victims.

More Examples of Animals That Eat Dead Animals

  • Crocodiles
  • Bottle Flies
  • Spiders
  • Crabs 
  • Slugs
  • Condors 
  • Prawns 
  • Ravens
  • Eels 
  • Millipedes 
  • Piranhas 
  • Alligators
  • Raccoons 

Bottom Line on Scavenger Animals

As you can see, many animals feed on carrion as primary or part of their main diet. Most of them are predators with small exclusions from the list.

It is crucial to say that the existence of such animals is a key to nature’s well-being, as they tend to clean it from the remains of dead animals and prevent many issues later on ( diseases, for example).

That is why animals that eat dead animals are crucial for our ecosystems. Moreover, their existence is essential in ensuring the well-being of other species – in some cases, even humans.

And there you have it, with this, we have completed the “animals that eat dead animals?” article. Thank you for reading!

If you liked this post, here’s a recommendation of another popular read: Examples of Animals That Eat Only Plants

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