Animals That Eat Garbage! (13 Trash Eating Animals)

Last updated on November 19th, 2022

While talking with my first graders and teaching them about animal habitats, I realized that my students were quite curious about the feeding habits of animals.

They wanted to know about the different types of food that animals consume. So, thinking of their curiosity, I looked into the food habits of different animals.

It was then that I came across the fact that several animals eat garbage.

Animals that eat garbage:

  • Raccoons
  • Pigs
  • Crows
  • Goats
  • Foxes
  • Squirrels
  • Coyotes
  • Possums
  • Groundhogs
  • Skunks
  • Bears
  • Cats
  • Rabbits

When I shared this with my students, they became quite curious because I thought that you will only see raccoons near the garbage dumps. Sometimes you will find these other animals eating garbage as well.

List of animals that eat trash:

1. Raccoons

raccoon going into garbage bin 12022022

Raccoons are omnivores, and they can survive on both plant-based and animal-based food.

Along with that, raccoons are scavengers, meaning they will look for suitable food in places like garbage bins and dustbins.

If you open a garbage bin and see a raccoon sitting inside it, the chances are that you have thrown scraps of poultry, fish, or meat in the garbage.

This is because raccoons have a keen sense of smell and are attracted to meat and fish.

Therefore, when you discard scraps of poultry, fish, and meat, it attracts raccoons, and they tend to scavenge for food in garbage bins and dustbins.

For raccoons, garbage bins are easy to access since they can provide them with different types of food. This is the primary reason why raccoons eat garbage.

Here you can read more about this topic that we wrote about – Do raccoons eat garbage?

2. Pigs

pig in the garbage 12022022

You must have heard that pigs eat garbage and that pigs often roll around in the mud, giving the idea that they can eat almost anything.

Farmers breeding swine mention that pigs can be given garbage, but you need to ensure that it is treated well before being fed to the pigs.

You need to ensure that there is no product in the garbage that is harmful to the pigs. Only then can you feed the garbage to the pigs.

You can often see pigs around garbage dumps trying to find suitable items to feed on in the wild.

Pigs are omnivores and have an excellent sense of smell. They can quickly identify scraps like discarded food like bread, vegetable peels, and kitchen waste from the garbage they can eat.

3. Crows

crow standing on trash bag 12022022

Crows play an essential role in reducing waste by consuming different types of garbage.

These birds are essential for waste management, and they can help reduce garbage both in urban and rural areas.

Unlike other creatures, crows have an extremely efficient digestive system, which means they can digest different types of garbage.

Along with that, they are scavengers. This means they will hunt for suitable waste products to consume.

By consuming garbage, crows prevent the spread of diseases, and you will also find that they reduce the spread of odors in a neighborhood.

Crows are one of the foremost consumers of garbage, making them a necessary part of any ecosystem.

Thus, crows are important creatures as they help keep the neighborhood clean.

4. Goats

goat eating garbage 12022022

Commonly, goats eat almost anything, but it is not entirely true. For example, you might see goats eating cardboard and labels off tin cans.

However, these creatures prefer eating grass and hay. In the wild, goats are sometimes drawn to eating garbage due to the lack of fresh grass or hay.

When goats are raised on a farm, they are not given garbage as a part of their diet.

Goats do not have a digestive system that can digest all types of food; hence they need to be careful about what they consume.

Therefore, even when you find goats near a garbage dump or a dustbin, you will find them consuming vegetable peels or plant-based waste, which is ideal for their digestive system.

Here is an article that we wrote on this topic if you would like to read further – Do goats eat garbage?

5. Foxes

arctic fox looking for food in grabage 12022022

Foxes are omnivores, and they eat both plant-based and animal-based food.

However, they prefer animal-based food, which is the primary reason you find foxes around garbage dumps and dustbins.

Small red foxes are often sighted around kitchen waste bins scavenging for scraps like cooked meat. These are almost like treats for the foxes!

They love to look for scrap meat or even discarded parts of the meat and bones. Foxes often look for live food in garbage such as rodents and lizards.

So when you see a fox near a garbage dump or a dustbin, it is not always in search of scrap food but also for other small animals that are often found near dustbins and garbage dumps.

6. Squirrels

squirrel eating garbage 12022022

Squirrels are often found near garbage dumps and dustbins looking for suitable food. You cannot call squirrels scavengers, but they are opportunistic feeders.

This means they will always be on the lookout for suitable food and this means scraps like leftover nuts, bird eggs, vegetable scraps, leaves, and other human leftovers are often considered suitable snacks by squirrels.

Moreover, squirrels are omnivores, meaning they do not differentiate between plant-based or animal-based food.

Therefore, squirrels will eat depending on the availability of a particular type of food.

This is why squirrels are often found scurrying around garbage dumps and dustbins in search of suitable food.

7. Coyotes

coyote chewing bone 15012022

The common notion is that coyotes are hunters and will hunt rodents and other small animals.

But the changing habitats of these creatures have also brought about changes in their eating habits.

You will now sometimes find coyotes lurking around garbage dustbins searching for food.

But coyotes are carnivores, and they have a strong sense of smell.

If the trash cans have packets with scraps containing discarded parts of meat, then you will find coyotes ripping these open to access these scraps of meat.

Coyotes can consume a significant amount of garbage, mainly if it contains meat. These creatures can also eat eggs, poultry, and other such garbage.

Coyotes can even overturn a dustbin to access the scraps and the food inside.

8. Possums

possum tearing trash bag 12022022

Possums are opportunistic feeders, and they can eat different types of food. They do not differentiate between live and dead food.

You will find possums eating insects like butterflies, and lawn grubs as well as dead rodents, and garbage.

Possums are omnivores which makes the creature suitable garbage eaters.

Possums are often found lurking around garbage dumps and dustbins, searching for suitable food like discarded or rotten eggs, vegetable scraps, discarded cooked rice, and other things that humans find inedible or excess leftovers.

Possums have a robust digestive system which makes them capable of digesting different types of food that other creatures would avoid.

This makes possums capable of consuming different types of food that you would normally throw away in the garbage dump or dustbin.

9. Groundhogs

groundhog 12022022

Groundhogs are rodents that belong to the family of squirrels. These creatures have an excellent and sharp sense of smell.

Groundhogs often consider garbage as a primary source of food and are often a favorite among these rodents as it consists of vegetable scraps and discarded meat scraps that can provide groundhogs with all the necessary nutrition.

Groundhogs can tear through the plastic in the garbage dumps to access the scraps inside.

These creatures are omnivores, but they usually prefer animal-based food.

Usually, suburban kitchen waste has cooked and uncooked meat, making this all the more attractive for them to scavenge.

10. Skunks

skunk in backyard patio 12022022

Skunks eat all types of food from insects, eggs, fruits, and nuts, to even garbage.

You will often find skunks lurking around garbage dumps and dustbins, searching for food as garbage provides a ready source of edibles.

You will find that skunks will look for scraps in your garbage such as vegetable peels, meat, fish, and even poultry.

But skunks are often found lurking around garbage dumps that are not kitchen waste.

Here these creatures usually look for insects or small rodents.

Skunks will eat all types of garbage as they are opportunistic feeders, and garbage bins can be very easy for them to access.

However, skunks are not good climbers, they will not climb into high garbage dumps. Instead, skunks usually look for dustbins short in height and are easily accessible.

11. Bears

bear eating garbage 12022022

Bears are easily attracted to garbage as this also provides them with a ready source of food.

Also, the length of the bins does not deter these creatures since they have the same or even greater height than the dustbins.

In areas with compost piles or human garbage sources, you might find bears lurking around in search of food.

The primary reason for this is that bears are omnivores and garbage dumps offer an easy source of different types of food.

In the garbage dump, bears can find scraps of plant-based and animal-based food.

However, if you want to prevent bears from gaining access to your garbage for the safety of the creatures and prevent them from consuming anything harmful, you should use bear-proof dustbins.

Some bears hibernate during winter, so they need to consume a significant amount of food to help them survive through the season.

Garbage dumps provide them with a wide range of food that can help them build a fat layer to help with hibernation.

12. Cats

cat eating 07052022

It would be wrong to imply that cats, especially feral cats don’t eat garbage because they are known to eat linger around trash bins in search of leftover food.

Cats are true carnivores, and they eat only animal-based food.

Even while rummaging through garbage bins, you will find that cats eat only meat and fish.

But here’s the thing, we wrote an entire article about cats eating garbage and you can read more about it here – Do cats eat garbage?

13. Rabbits

rabbit eating 07052022

Domesticated rabbits that are bored, or rabbits that have easy access to the trash bin, might try eating garbage.

But when it comes to wild rabbits eating garbage, the main reason is that they are in search of suitable food sources, and garbage often contains kitchen scraps.

However, eating garbage can be dangerous and even fatal for rabbits.

We wrote an entire article on this subject matter and you can read more about it here – Do rabbits eat garbage?

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