In this article, we’ll answer the question:
“What do vultures eat?”
First, you’ll find a short summary of what vultures eat in nature, then get a list of a vulture’s favorite foods that make up a typical vulture diet. And finally, answers to common questions about vulture feeding habits and nutrition.
Vultures are birds of prey belonging to the Cathartidae family under the Aves class. These birds are primarily scavengers that feed on carrion (decaying flesh of dead animals); however, some species do eat live animals and insects.
What Do Vultures Eat?
Vultures eat carrion (animal carcasses) almost exclusively because they are scavenger birds; however, some species of vultures will eat prey such as rodents, smaller birds, insects, and lizards. The Palm-nut vulture is the only exception with a diet comprising mostly of the fruit of oil palm.
Vulture Diet (Favorite Foods)
- Smaller birds
- Oil palm fruit (Palm-nut Vulter only)
How Often Does a Vulture Eat?
A vulture often eats up to 20 times a day, depending on the species and age. As scavengers, vultures spend most of their time looking for carrion or prey in their large terrestrial habitat.
How Much Do Vultures Eat Per Day?
Vultures eat around 20 pounds of meat per day and can feed up to 1 kg of meat in a minute. Like other birds, vultures consume a large amount of food per day because of their high basal metabolic rates.
How Long Can Vultures Live Without Food?
Vultures can live for up to two weeks without food in the wild; however, baby chicks need food every day. Adult vultures have a large pouch in the throat, an adaptation to a feast-or-famine scavenging lifestyle, that’s used for storing food to eat at a later time or can be regurgitated to feed to their young.
Do Vultures Eat Live Animals?
Vultures do eat live animals if it is the black vulture species. Black vultures are aggressive and can kill small live animals, including calves, goats, lambs, groundhogs, and other wild animals.
Turkey vultures are timid and prefer feeding on dead animal carcasses but will occasionally eat decaying vegetable matter, live insects, or live fish in drying-up ponds.
In this article by NewScientist, starving vultures have switched to eating live prey in Spain because of Mad Cow Disease control laws.
Do Vultures Eat Each Other?
Vultures do not eat each other by choice but only feed on a dead vulture during food scarcity. Griffon vultures, the most social of Europe’s four vulture species, are known to feed on a dead Griffon vulture carcass.
Do Vultures Eat Fish?
Vultures do eat fish that they capture by diving into shallow water, but this is most common among black vultures and turkey vultures because they are not obligate scavengers (a scavenger that relies almost entirely on carrion as a food resource).
What Animals Eat Vultures?
Vultures are prey to a few different species.
You can visit our other guide on what animals eat vultures to find out which predators actively feed on these birds.
Vulture Eating Habits and Diet Summary
You now know what do vultures eat in the wild as well as the typical food in a vulture’s diet.
As you discovered in this guide, vultures are primarily scavengers with a few select species preying on other animals for nutrition with a vulture’s favorite food being carrion (animal carcasses).
I’m the lead editor and writer for Animal Answer Guide. I enjoy sharing expert knowledge on the various characteristics of common species within the five distinct groups of animals: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles.