What Animals Eat Bones? 11 Animals That Eat Bones

Last updated on February 5th, 2022

Field trips can be the most exciting experiences for both teachers and students. I find it interesting because I learn several new things during these activities.

For example, when I took my fourth graders on one such field trip to a friend’s farm, my students were quick to notice that some bulls were chewing on the bones of cows. This was an unusual sight as bulls are herbivores.

On discussing it with my friend who ran the ranch, I discovered that bulls engage in Osteophagy in which they consume the bones of other animals. This is primarily seen in the wild but sometimes observed in domesticated animals.

Animals that eat bones:

  • Hyenas
  • Pigs
  • Alligators
  • Tigers
  • Wolves
  • Lions
  • Vultures
  • Coyotoes
  • Sharks
  • Eagles
  • Dogs

This got me thinking about animals that eat bones and why they are drawn towards them. Some of the animals that eat bones are as follows:

Table of Contents

Here are 11 animals that eat bones:

1. Hyenas

hyena chewing bone 15012022

Hyenas are scavengers and are famous for their ability to break through almost any part of a dead animal.

Their powerful jaws are capable of breaking the bones of even dead whales.

Hyenas are known to consume the dead bodies of animals, and when a pack of hyenas eats the body of a dead animal, they consume the bones as well.

But bones do not form the primary part of the diet of hyenas. Instead, they will eat the bones as a part of the dead body they consume.

When it comes to digesting the bones, the powerful jaws of the hyenas are capable of breaking the bones into small pieces, making it easier for the animal to consume and digest.

2. Pigs

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You must have heard people saying that pigs can eat almost anything. Farmers who raise pigs mention that bones can be given to them as bones are rich in phosphate.

Unfortunately, pigs do not have powerful jaws, and hence, they cannot break the bones into smaller pieces.

But the food that is given as feed to pigs often contains broken bits of bones as this helps provide the creatures with an adequate amount of minerals and nutrients.

Pigs, especially ones bred in the farms, need to develop strong bones, and for that, they need a good supply of phosphates and calcium.

Therefore, pig farmers often combine broken bones with the pig feed to ensure a good supply of both these nutrients in the feed.

3. Alligators

alligator eating 15012022

Alligators are known for their mighty jaws and robust set of teeth. If you have seen a wild alligator hunt, you will have observed that it can subdue prey that is twice its size.

The alligator can break the bones on the body of its prey with the help of its powerful jaws. When the alligator eats its prey, it can also consume the bones.

When the bones pass into the alligator’s stomach, it becomes easier to digest, and the bones do not act as a deterrent to the alligator or crocodile.

4. Tigers

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Tigers are one of the strongest animals in the animal kingdom. It is known to have powerful jaws, and these jaws are lined with teeth that can crush the bones of its prey.

Being the alpha predators of the animal kingdom, tigers are known to consume their prey’s flesh and bones.

If you consider the man-eaters, it will surprise you to know that the bodies are often challenging to locate because tigers are known to consume the flesh and the bones of the humans they kill.

But man-eating tigers are anomalies of nature, and in most cases, tigers tend to hunt gazelles, deer, pigs, monitor lizards, and other similar creatures.

They consume the flesh and bones of most of these animals as well.

5. Wolves

wolf chewing bone 15012022

Wolves, like other predators, do consume the bones of their prey.

But the difference between wolves’ consumption patterns and other predators is that wolves tend to consume the front limbs and the smaller bones of their prey.

They do not go for the larger bones of their prey as these are difficult to break or chew.

Moreover, wolves do not have a digestive system that is as robust as an alligator or a tiger.

Therefore, to fulfill the phosphates and other minerals requirement, wolves consume only the smaller bones like the rib cages and the forelimbs of their prey. 

6. Lions

lion chewing bone 15012022

Research has proved that lions do not distinguish between organs, flesh, bones, or prey.

Since lions live in pride and the hunting is done primarily by lionesses, the food is shared amongst the pride members.

When prey is brought down, the entire animal is consumed, including the flesh, the internal organs, and the bones.

The powerful jaws of the lion and its teeth can break the bones of even the most formidable prey and chew through these.

If you think that the bones of the wildebeest are difficult for the teeth of the lions to chew through, you are mistaken.

Moreover, the bones of the animals provide the lions with the necessary minerals and nutrients that they require.

7. Vultures

vulture eating bone 15012022

These birds are the original scavengers. The lammergeiers or the bearded vultures are the original consumers of bones.

They can eat nearly 90% of the bones on the bodies of dead animals. The unique feature of the bird’s ability to digest bones is that these birds have different long intestinal tracts.

Along with that, the content of hydrochloric acid in the intestinal tract is relatively high.

The pH value of the acid inside the gut of a lammergeier is nearly 0.7, which makes it easier for the bird to digest bones.

This ensures that the bird can digest all the bones that it consumes.

8. Coyotes

coyote chewing bone 15012022

Coyotes are carnivores and are known for their voracious appetite. Along with that, coyotes have strong jaws lined with sharp teeth.

As a result, they are among the foremost hunters in North America. The coyotes are capable of baiting through the hide and bones of their prey.

Coyotes are known to bite through the hind limb of a bull or a cow at one and half times faster than most predators.

The bone-crushing strength of the coyote’s jaws makes it a formidable hunter.

Moreover, this robust set of teeth and strong jaws allow coyotes to consume both the bones and flesh of their prey.

9. Sharks

shark eating 15012022

Sharks are predators, and they cannot differentiate between the flesh and the bones of the animals they hunt.

When they hunt sea mammals or even large fishes, they consume their prey whole. Thus, in a way, they eat the bones of their prey.

But many a time, sharks are known to regurgitate the bones of the animals that they have consumed.

When sharks are stressed, they often vomit the bones and other parts of the bodies of the prey that they are unable to digest.

However, in most cases, sharks will eat everything, including the bones of fishes, especially cartilaginous fishes that have a similar density as bones.

10. Eagles

eagle eating 15012022

Eagles eat the bones and the flesh of their prey, primarily because they need to ensure that they have an excellent supply of nutrients which bones of animals have in abundance.

Bones are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and phosphate. Eagles need to have strong bones (especially in their wings) as they are flying long distances and at extreme heights.

They also need to have excellent eyesight because they hunt from heights and long distances.

Therefore, the bones of their prey provide them with the necessary nutrients to build strong bones and a robust immune system.

Moreover, the eagle’s digestive system is powerful enough to digest the bones of the animals that they hunt. 

11. Dogs

dog chewing bone 15012022

Bones are an excellent source of minerals and nutrients for your pet dog and it is very common to see a dog chewing a bone.

The bone and the bone marrow have all the necessary nutrients that dogs need to build a healthy immune system and strong bones.

Moreover, gnawing on the bones help the creature develop strong jaw muscles. Gnawing on the bones is also an excellent exercise for your pet dog.

Conclusion

The animals that eat bones are hyenas, pigs, alligators, tigers, wolves, lions, vultures, coyotes, sharks, eagles, and dogs. These animals are opportunistic feeders and will generally eat whatever they find, however, the bones they eat are not sought after but consumed as part of the prey that was caught.

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