Most vultures eat carrion, which includes dead animals in all stages of decomposition. Though they prefer mammal carrion, vultures also eat reptile, amphibian, fish and bird carcasses.

The vulture's stomach acid is extremely acidic and allows the vulture to eat carrion that is very old and even infected with diseases such as the Botulinum toxin and anthrax. Vultures locate their carrion with either sight or smell, depending on the species, and are sometimes known to kill sick or wounded animals if no other food source is available. If they're unable to pierce the hide of a carcass with their beaks, they often wait for other predators to do so and then gorge themselves until they're barely able to fly.