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25 Examples of Scavengers (A to Z List & Pictures)

wolf with bone

Some common scavenger types include insects like ants, some mammals like foxes and coyotes, birds such as vultures, some reptiles like alligators and crocodiles, many arthropods including different spiders and crabs.

Animals that are scavengers can be found in both the wild and the city, but they all have one thing in common: they eat whatever is dead or dying.

They’re able to find food because of their keen sense of smell, which allows them to track down rotting carcasses even when buried beneath dirt or snow.

Examples of Animals that Are Scavengers

1. Ants

army ant
Scientific NameFormicidae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Ants are amongst the most common types of scavengers, often found in large colonies. These insects are known for their ability to consume large amounts of food, even when it is still being shared with other ants.

2. Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle
Scientific NameHaliaeetus leucocephalus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeNorth American
DietCarnivore

The bald eagle is a large bird of prey found in North America. It feeds on fish, small mammals, and carrion when it finds them.

The bald eagle tends to live near water and is incredibly territorial over its land. The adult bird has brown feathers with a white head, tail, and wings; it can be easily identified by the distinctive yellow iris at the center of each eye.

3. Bears

black bear
Scientific NameUrsidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America, South America, Europe, and Asia
DietOmnivore

Bears are scavengers- they will eat anything and prefer to go for meat that has been recently killed by other animals.

Bears have a strong sense of smell and can often smell food up to several miles away. They also tend to steal food from one another as well as other animals such as wolves or cougars.

One exception to the rule is the polar bear which has also been known to eat vegetation should other food sources not be available.

Polar bears are scavengers that will occasionally come upon a carcass and take advantage of it- but this does not happen often as they typically live in areas where there isn’t much prey around, and thus most of their meat and fish comes from hunting.

4. Beetles

beetle
Scientific NameColeoptera
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Beetles are scavengers especially those that live in the woods. They are usually black and have a hard shell, but some other species can be red or brown as well.

Most of them eat dead animals they find on the ground, though these beetles will generally not attack living animals if given a choice.

There is one type of beetle called a bombardier beetle which does actually attack creatures with something called a “bombardment” by spraying hot chemicals from its anus.

5. Bottle Flies

bottle fly
Scientific NameCalliphoridae
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Bottle Flies are scavengers that feed on decaying animals or plants. They are usually found in homes, chicken coops, and around garbage cans. These flies have short legs that allow them to move quickly over surfaces while their wings remain stationary.

6. Coyote

coyote
Scientific NameCanis latrans
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAlaska southward into Central America
DietCarnivore

Coyotes are scavengers because they eat the flesh of dead animal carcasses, which can include rodents and small mammals such as rabbits.

In addition to eating carrion, coyotes will also take advantage of food opportunities at garbage dumps or even in rural homes where pet food is left outside.

They do not require a specific type of food to survive but they are opportunistic feeders which means that if there is an abundant supply of one type of food source, the coyote will focus on eating it.

7. Crabs

Crab
Scientific NameBrachyura
Type of AnimalMalacostracans
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Crabs will eat almost anything that is dead. They are omnivores, which means they can eat both plants and animals.

8. Condors

Condor
Scientific NameVultur gryphus
Type of AnimalBird
Rangecentral southern California deserts
DietCarnivore

Condors are scavengers they eat dead animals they find on the ground their favorite food is carrion – which means meat that has been left by other animals.

They can be found in parts of California, Arizona, and Mexico. They also live in South America near coasts such as Chile and Peru.

9. Eels

eel
Scientific NameAnguilliformes
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Eels are also scavengers, and they eat dead things like fish, crabs, and shrimp. They actually hunt for food as well in the sand at the bottom of the ocean floor.

The eel uses its long body to sneak up on little crabs and shrimp that live in this area. Then it pounces on them with lightning-fast speed before gobbling them up.

This means that eels are both hunters and scavengers

10. Hyena

hyena
Scientific NameHyaena hyaena
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangenorthern Africa, the Middle East, and India
DietOmnivore

The Hyena is a scavenger. It will eat just about anything that it can find and hunts if it has to, but prefers dead or dying food sources.

11. Jackals

Black-Backed Jackals
Scientific NameCanis Aureus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Jackals can scavenge, but they are also hunters. They will eat anything from a rotting carcass to insects and rodents.

For the most part, their diet consists of small mammals when in times of scarcity or when hunting is not taking place.

However, jackals have been seen eating fruit as well. These animals do best around human settlements because it means an abundance of food, specifically livestock.

12. Leopards

leopard
Scientific NamePanthera pardus
Type of AnimalMammal
Rangesub-Saharan Africa
DietCarnivore

Leopards are known as the “Ghosts of the Jungle” and they can be found in Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.

They use large canine teeth to tear the meat off bones; their jaws have a huge gape which allows them to rip flesh from animals such as zebras or buffalo.

13. Lions

Lion licking its lips
Scientific NamePanthera leo
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeAfrica
DietCarnivore

Lions are not the only cats that scavenge for food. In fact, they will eat almost anything from hare to prey carcasses.

They have been known to attack large animals such as gazelles and zebras with a group of lions hunting them down.

However, when there is no kill in sight but plenty of carrion, a lion will eat the meat of a dead animal.

14. Lobster

Lobster
Scientific NameNephropidae
Type of AnimalMalacostracans
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

One way lobsters scavenge food is by eating the corpses of animals that are already dead. For example, when a seal dies in the water, it will eat them to survive.

Lobsters often will also use their claws to break apart coral reefs and rock formations since these coral provide lots of little hiding places for prey.

15. Millipedes

Millipede
Scientific NameDiplopoda
Type of AnimalInsect
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivores or Detritivores

Millipedes are scavengers that eat decaying plant material. This means the millipede will feed on dead leaves, decomposing wood, or other types of decaying vegetation.

16. Opossums

Virginia Opossum
Scientific NameDidelphidae
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeUnited States, Mexico, Central America, South America, and Canada
DietOmnivore

Opossums (possums) are famous for their ability to find and eat almost anything, including carrion. These animals look like rats with tails that curl up over the back.

They eat a lot of fruit and insects as well as their favorite food — carrion. These animals aren’t fussy about what they eat either.

Some examples include roadkill or dead fish that come across while hunting for prey, fruits, vegetables, insects, snails, and frogs.

17. Piranha

Piranha
Scientific NamePygocentrus nattereri
Type of AnimalFish
RangeSouth America
DietCarnivore

People who have visited the Amazon River in Brazil may be familiar with piranhas as these fish tend to attack and bite people, but they do not actually hunt humans for food at all.

They are scavengers by nature and will eat just about anything that dies nearby them such as animals or even other fish.

18. Prawns

Prawn
Scientific NameDendrobranchiata
Type of AnimalMalacostracans
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Prawns scavenge food and eat a variety of things both on the seafloor and in the water column. They feed on algae, microscopic organisms like diatoms, worms, amphipods (crustaceans), urchins (echinoderms) as well as other small invertebrates such as mollusks, sea anemones, and fish.

They are best seen at night when they hunt using their highly developed vision to spot prey items in the water column above them.

19. Raccoons

raccoon
Scientific NameProcyon lotor
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeNorth America
DietOmnivore

Raccoons are often called “trash pandas” because they can find a meal in just about anything.

They have been known to eat all kinds of foods, including fish, insects, and berries as well as more common scavenged items such as bread or trash.

20. Ravens

Raven
Scientific NameCorvus corax
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

These black and white birds eat dead animals. They often scavenge their food from the ground, but they can feed off dead animals or even snatch it right out of other animals’ mouths.

21. Seagulls

seagull
Scientific NameLarus Linnaeus
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietOmnivore

Seagulls are scavengers because they eat dead fish especially and they will also eat human food waste left behind on beaches.

Some seagulls have been observed to steal the eggs of puffins and other nesting birds on coastal cliffs. Birds that can fly off with their prey are called “kleptoparasites.”

22. Sharks

great white shark
Scientific NameSelachimorpha
Type of AnimalFish
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

One of the well-known scavengers is sharks. They will eat all types of animals including mammals, birds, and fish.

A few examples include great white sharks, bull sharks, and hammerhead sharks.

Sharks are opportunistic feeders, so they will eat just about anything. They’re often seen scavenging at the surface for food that has washed up onshore or floating in the water column after it’s died and sunk into ocean depths.

23. Slugs

Banana Slug
Scientific NameGastropods
Type of AnimalGastropods
RangeWorldwide
DietHerbivorous, Carnivorous, Omnivorous, and Detritivorous

Slugs are a type of gastropod. They don’t have teeth, but they do have a radula that has tiny rasps on it to help them scrape food off surfaces. Some slugs will scavenge for any source of food including dead plant material and even other slugs.

24. Vultures

vulture
Scientific NameCathartes aura
Type of AnimalBird
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Vultures eat the dead and rotting remains of other animals. They are some of the best scavengers in the world and steal food from another animal’s kill.

Vultures will wait at a fresh carcass until an animal such as a hyena has finished its meal before descending to feed itself.

25. Wolves

wolf
Scientific NameCanis lupus
Type of AnimalMammal
RangeWorldwide
DietCarnivore

Wolves will eat carrion, but they also hunt their own food in the wild.

Wolves scavenge food that they are unable to catch by themselves. They do not always have the ability to kill their own prey, so sometimes they must turn to eat carcasses left behind by other animals instead of catching their own.

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