I was looking up some things for some of our recent questions when I saw this line in the safety guide for Everglades National Park,

Vultures are attracted to the rubber on vehicles and have been know to cause severe damage to windshields, sun roofs, and windshield wipers.

Here is an example caused by turkey vultures in central Ohio, USA, in summer 2016. They completely ripped up the gasket seal around the canvas top on this Jeep, as well as leaving behind plenty of other "evidence."

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I have found guesses as to why they do this, from certain chemicals in the rubber to practicing tearing at dead meat, but no solid, conclusive studies seem to have been done on this that I could find.

Are there any conclusive results as to why vultures do this?

  • This happened to me!!! Had to replace a Jeep's soft-top. I never knew this fact though. Insurance company paid, but I was never sure they accepted my explanation (They kept asking whether anyone was hurt in the accident. I kept saying it was a parked, unoccupied vehicle.) I hope you get an answer.
    – cobaltduck
    Apr 4 '18 at 12:33
  • Related sister site question Why do {house} rabbits chew electrical wires? Apr 4 '18 at 17:24
  • It's not just vultures. Kea are also well known to exhibit this behaviour. Apr 4 '18 at 23:34
  • This is an interesting question. Even the most scientific studies I can find have theories, but say they're not 100% conclusive. Tagging and other studies are ongoing though, including the second one you referenced. That one also mentioned Kea, as @GregHewgill said, and also sheep eating parrots in New Zealand. Apr 5 '18 at 1:47
  • @Sue The Kea is the sheep eating parrot which is even stranger than rubber eating vulture. Apr 5 '18 at 1:54

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