Home Animals List of 17 Animals That Eat Dead Animals: Carnivores That Consume Carrion

List of 17 Animals That Eat Dead Animals: Carnivores That Consume Carrion


Scavenger animals have long been a mystery to humans. How do they survive in such harsh environments with so little nourishment? The secret lies in their incredible survival instincts. These animals are quick, cunning, and resourceful, able to thrive in even the most inhospitable environments. 

Their keen sense of smell helps them track down the scent of rotting carcasses from miles away, allowing them to find sustenance where other animals would perish. 

From hyenas to vultures, coyotes to crocodiles, scavenger animals are a vital part of the ecosystem, playing a crucial role in breaking down dead animals and returning nutrients to the soil. While they may seem strange and even unsettling to many humans, these animals are a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of nature.

List of Animals That Eat Dead Animals


Animals That Eat Dead Animals

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

When it comes to scavenger animals, the vulture is undoubtedly one of the first creatures that comes to mind. Despite not being the most aesthetically pleasing bird, there is something majestic about the way they fly high up in the sky. Found in habitats near deserts and savannahs, vultures often feast on the flesh of dead or dying animals and can be frequently spotted near water sources. 

While we may cringe at the thought of this bird feeding on decomposing flesh, it is interesting to note that they will not consume a body that is more than four days old – knowing this, it is safe to say they understand the importance of consuming fresh meat. 

Surprisingly, the vulture’s closest relatives are storks and pelicans, a fact that is not widely known. Nevertheless, it is clear that this bird has a unique place in the animal kingdom, reminding us of the importance of all creatures great and small.

Related Article: What Eats a Vulture? [A Compilation of Predators]


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

In the savannahs, deserts, and grasslands near a water source, where vultures reign, jackals will also undoubtedly make an appearance. These dog-like creatures are opportunistic omnivores that feed on both meat and plant-based food, but it’s the flesh of other animals that makes up the bulk of their diet. Equipped with long legs, canine teeth, and impressive long-distance stamina, jackals are adept hunters that can reach running speeds of up to 40 mph. 

They are also known to scavenge from animal carcasses, typically those killed by bigger predators. These clever and adaptable creatures have a knack for survival and are a fascinating addition to the diverse ecosystems they inhabit.


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

Wolves are truly fascinating creatures, captivating people across the globe with their majestic appearance and remarkable qualities. With a strict social system, fascinating behaviour, and numerous skills, it’s no wonder these animals are the centre of attention wherever they go! Known for their predatory instincts, wolves are often seen as fearsome animals. 

However, they can also be found in many different habitats all around the world, adapting to an array of environments, including tundras, temperate rainforests, and even deserts. And while they’re indeed skilled hunters, they also feed on dead animals and scavenge for carcasses, proving that there’s more to this incredible species than meets the eye.  


Do Lions Eat Crocodiles

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

The king of the jungle – the one and only African predator that strikes fear into the hearts of many. The lion is a powerful and majestic creature, living in groups called pride. Feeding primarily on medium to large herbivore animals, the female lions hunt while the males come in for the fresh catch. While they may hunt nonstop, lions often scavenge for dead animals and even steal food from their enemies: hyenas. 

With an average adult lion needing up to 15 pounds of food per day, food is always at the forefront of their minds. With constant efforts to find food, the lion remains one of the most fascinating creatures of the African savannah.

Related Article: Why Do Lions Eat Grass? Explained.


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

From the depths of the oceans to the shores, the lurking presence of sharks has been known to inspire fear in humans for centuries. These magnificent creatures come in various shapes, sizes, and subspecies, but they all share one crucial characteristic: their insatiable appetite for meat. Despite being apex predators, sharks often rely on feeding on random dead animals found in the water to satisfy their never-ending hunger. 

This is simply because their bodies need an immense amount of calories to function properly. As a result, it’s not uncommon to see them chomping on the remains of a deceased whale or other marine creatures. These creatures consume between 1 to 10 per cent of their total weight per week just to fulfill their dietary needs. They may be misunderstood, but there’s no denying that these creatures are truly a force to be reckoned with.


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

Crows are fascinating birds that have captured human attention in many ways. Often depicted in movies and books as blackbirds that feed on dead animals, they have earned a reputation as symbols of death. While these birds do include meat in their diet, they also consume plants and eat a wide range of foods, including roadkill, small insects, eggs, fruit seeds, and more. 

Their intelligence is impressive, and they seem to have a gift for stealing food from other animals, often by being super annoying. People may observe them engaging in this activity at dawn and in the afternoon when they feed most actively. Despite their perceived negative association with death, crows are an important part of the world’s avian biodiversity, and they contribute in many ways to their ecosystems.



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

Despite being mostly known to people from the Ice Age movie or their garbage bin, opossums are fascinating creatures with unique survival tactics. Living in woodlands, they seek out food like insects, rodents, and birds, but they also have a strange dietary preference for animal carcasses. 

This is because they require a certain amount of calcium, and they even munch on the bones and skeletal remains of other wild creatures to supplement their diet as they cannot drink milk. However, their most unusual trait is their ability to play dead when they sense danger from a predator. While not the cutest of animals, opossums are undoubtedly fascinating creatures deserving of respect and awe.


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

There’s no denying it – lobsters are fascinating creatures that capture our attention in more ways than one. Not only are they sought-after delicacies that make our mouths water, but they also have some unique eating habits that make them all the more intriguing. 

While lobsters might look like carefree creatures at the bottom of the ocean, they actually spend a lot of time scavenging for dead carrion meat that they can feast on. 

Surprisingly enough, they also have a bit of a taste for small fish that they can catch and munch on. In fact, it seems that lobsters will eat just about anything they can get their claws on. Whether they’re prowling for prey or munching on leftovers, lobsters are definitely creatures worth keeping an eye on.



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

It’s a common misconception that big cats only hunt for their prey, but some species, like the leopard, will scavenge for food when the opportunity arises. These adaptable spotted cats have some of the best survival instincts and can thrive in various habitats. 

While they can be stealthy and elusive, leopards can also be opportunistic and take advantage of carrion if it comes their way. Their ability to stay hidden and blend in with their surroundings makes them challenging to track and spot in the wild. The leopard may be a skilled hunter, but its ability to adapt and scavenge sets it apart from other big cat species.


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

Hyenas are one of the most fascinating animals in the world, notorious for their fearsome reputation. These laughing, greedy animals from Africa are known to quickly kill almost any live prey on the planet, moving around in groups and always on the lookout for their next meal. While they often feed on the corpses of dead animals, they are also notorious for stealing prey from other predators. 

In fact, they are probably some of the biggest scavengers in the animal kingdom. And if you thought their diet was limited to just meat, think again! Hyenas can eat anything from hooves to hair and even horns; they leave nothing to waste. But perhaps the most remarkable thing about these animals is their high level of intelligence, which comes as a surprise to many.


coyotes in vermonmt

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

Coyotes are a fascinating species of carnivorous animals known for their adaptability. They are found in various regions of the world and can eat just about anything. Coyotes can survive in areas occupied by humans, mainly because their habitats are taken over constantly. They have gotten used to humans over time and are even seen roaming some urban areas. 

Despite their size, they are efficient predators and can eat small animals like rabbits, mice, carrion, and even some insects. Coyotes eat about 550 pounds of meat yearly, which is double the average person’s amount. Their ability to survive and thrive amidst changing conditions makes them a fascinating study of animal behaviour.

Related Article: Can Coyotes Climb Trees & Fences? (Everything You Need To Know)


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

Beetles are incredible creatures that can be found in almost every corner of the world. Tucked away in their exoskeleton armour, most species fly through the air in search of carrion to feed on. That’s right – beetles are scavengers too! 

As they nibble on decaying animals, they also play an important role in nature’s delicate cycle of decomposition. And just when you thought you knew all there was to know, here’s another fun fact: most species of beetles have a built-in armour that protects their wings called elytra. These flying insects may be small, but they sure are mighty!


black bears in water

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

Contrary to popular belief, bears are not picky eaters. While they may have a diet consisting mostly of fruits, fish, and animals on which they prey, they won’t turn down a free meal if they stumble upon a dead animal. Especially if it presents itself before they settle down for hibernation, as they can consume up to 90 pounds of food in preparation. 

One would assume that their size and strength would be enough to intimidate any predator, but did you know that bears are also among the most intelligent animals? With their combination of intelligence, strength, and speed, it’s no wonder they can easily munch on anything that comes their way.

Related Article: Do Bears Eat Deer? The Relationship Between Bears and Deer


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

Eagles, these majestic birds of prey, are known for their unparalleled hunting skills. They prey on small mammals, fish, and at times, even other birds. But did you know that eagles also feed on dead animals? This makes them important members of the ecosystem as they help keep it clean. 

With around 60 species of eagles found all around the globe, each one distinctively different from the other, it’s no surprise that they are considered a remarkable and fascinating species. Their exceptional eyesight allows them to spot even the tiniest of things from afar. 

If we had their vision, we could see an ant across the street munching on a leaf in a small crack. With their exceptional hunting skills and keen eyesight, it’s not hard to see why eagles are the apex predator of the skies.

Related Article: The World’s 5 Smallest Eagle Species

Red-Tailed Hawks

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

The world of hawks is vast and varied, much like the environments they inhabit. These raptors can be found in a range of places, from the quiet of woodlands to the vast open skies of plains and mountains. As top predators in their respective landscapes, hawks have impressive skills – they feed on a variety of animals ranging from small mammals to lizards, and even other birds. 

They seldom feed on carrion left by other predators as they are formidable hunters themselves. When it comes to speed, red-tailed hawks are unmatched – they can dive at over 150 miles per hour. Their incredible hunting skills are complemented by their remarkable vision which is eight times more efficient than humans. 


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

Seagulls are fascinating creatures, known for their diverse and opportunistic feeding behaviour. These coastal birds have impressive appetites, consuming whatever they can get their beaks on, from fish to even human trash. Their behaviour has earned them the title of ‘rats of the sky,’ but it’s important to note that they also dine on small mammals, amphibians, insects, and eggs, as well as grains and fruits. 

Perhaps most interestingly, seagulls have no official natural predators, but they have a unique way of protecting their food. They group together to fend off any potential threats and ensure that their meals are safe and sound. Despite their sometimes unappetizing habits, one can’t help but admire these resourceful and clever birds.


grey fox

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

Foxes are incredibly versatile creatures that have adapted to survive in all kinds of environments. With a diet that includes everything from fruits to small animals, foxes are truly opportunistic eaters. 

They have an incredible sense of smell that they use not only to locate food but also to communicate with each other, avoid predators, and find mates. Although these creatures are adept hunters, they are never ones to turn down a free meal in the form of a dead animal. 

To catch their prey, foxes are stealthy and patient, stalking their target until they are within striking distance. Once they are close enough, they pounce with lightning-fast speed, ensuring that their next meal is never too far away.

Related Article: Cutest Foxes EVER! (8 Species Included With Pictures)

Final Words

Animals that feed on carrion play a vital role in maintaining a balance in the ecosystem. The majority of these creatures are predators, with a small number serving as exceptions to the rule. Removing the remains of dead animals is necessary to prevent diseases and other problems from arising, and this task is made possible by these scavengers. 

These creatures clean up the environment and ensure the well-being of other animals and even humans. The significance of animals that eat dead animals should not be overlooked, as without them, the ecosystem would be overrun with decaying remains and a multitude of ensuing issues.


Author Profile
Zahra Makda
Wildlife Enthusiast | Explorer at Animals Research

Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.

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Growing up enjoying the beauty of my village, a good passion for nature developed in me from childhood. Following my passion for the natural world, I have chosen zoology for my graduation, during my undergraduate degree, I participated in many nature trails, bird watching, rescues, training for wildlife conservation, workshop, and seminars on biodiversity. I have a keen interest in invertebrate biology, herpetology, and ornithology. Primary interests include studies on taxonomy, ecology, habitat and behavior.


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