Do zombies eat dead people? On the surface the answer seems clear. Zombies are generally considered to be after one thing, and one thing only: living flesh. Therefore, a zombie would pass right by an available dead body and continue hunting the living. But it may not be as simple as that.

Imagine a group of zombies cornering you in a dead end alley. You do everything you can to fight back, but eventually their numbers are too great and you are driven to the ground by clawing hands and gnashing teeth. The zombies chew on your fingers, rip off a leg, and make short work of your intestines. Soon enough you die from the overwhelming pain and blood loss, which leads to another version of the same question:

At the moment your heart stops beating do the zombies get up and wander off, or do they continue feasting on your lifeless corpse?

If you think they get up, then zombies don’t eat dead people. But if you think they finish the job, sucking out our eyeballs and chewing on your forearm even after you’ve died, then  zombies do at least eat the newly deceased. This may seem like a small point, but it could mean the difference between real hope for civilization’s survival, and total world collapse.

If zombies continue feeding on the dead, then they are effectively destroying their own reinforcements. A person with a deadly bite may rise up to become a zombie himself, but a body that has been chewed down to nothing won’t be physically able to stand and search out new victims. Zombies could quite literally eat themselves out of existence.

Our hope is that they have really big appetites, and don’t know when to say when.


  1. I call the condition the zombie virus cause’s ACAHS which stands for acquired cannibalistic aggressive hunger syndrome. I have probably mentioned in comments on other articles that according to my research the zombie virus has existed for thousands of years. I thought it would be helpful to give a name to the condition the zombie virus causes. hope the research of other members of this organization will go well and new findings are published to save mankind.

    • Thanks for your input Jared!

      • Thank you Dave I just joined Zombie Research Society. but I Have been studying this subject for years. I couldn’t help but notice that every culture talks about zombie like creatures and zombie like outbreaks in both historical and personal accounts going back thousands of years. son I came to the realization that the zombie virus has been around for a long time. I hope that the population at large wakes up and prepares for this threat for the sake of all hope to hear from you again fellow researcher.

        • Cheers!

          • I noticed it varies from case to case on whether zombies eat their victims after they are dead or walking away once they died. so probably in certain cases do they finish a body completely such as, a group feasting on the same body, or a individual. It is very unlikely that a single zombie could consume all the flesh of a victim so it would most likely take a group of say six or more zombies so strip a victim whether it is person or animal to nothing. it is hard to say, the historical record is incomplete so I guess we will have to wait and see

  2. I would assume that the zombies would continue to feast as long as the body “feels” alive, as in rigor mortis hasn’t set in and it is still warm. That would make the most sense to me. Maybe they’re just like carrion birds and eat until they feel their is nothing left to eat on the body, basically until all the flesh is gone?

    • i agree IVE seen many movies and shows where the zombie will keep feasting until u are a zombie like for example the walking dead.

  3. the zombie virus has to have a point, which in my opinion, would be survival. it would spread itself into whatever it possible, generally humans, who r usually slow and unagile in comparison to animals.

  4. They do eat dead flesh because that is the only one thing that they are after FLESH. It seems only natural that they eat dead flesh.

  5. i believe that the way they know if to eat or not may be through pharamones. women and men use pharamones to sense that a person is sexually arousing at a very subconcious level.i think a person loses that pharamone shortly after death and i do believe that that is what they hunt for.

  6. I think that, if we assume that it is an infection of some kind, that they will do just enough chewing to insure the spread of a body fluid type infection. This would also mean that the wound splatter from a Zombie would be dangerous. This is something that is not usually addressed in the literature on the subject.

  7. As I was thinking about this question, the first thing that popped in my head was the scene in the original Dawn of the Dead when Flyboy is attacked in the elevator by the group of zombies. They tear into him pretty aggressively while he is attempting to fight them off, and when he finally is able free himself from the attack, and get the elevator doors closed, we know it is only a matter of time until he turns. A little later we see the elevator doors open, and there is zombie Flyboy in all of his glory – the zombies see that he is now “one of them”, and they leave him be. He then begins to shuffle towards the fake wall that hides the route to the remaining humans. Grrrrrr . . .

    Point is, I think after the human body has gone through its necrosis phase, turning into a zombie, it is no longer considered a “meal” by its fellow zombies. It is just one of them.

    Also, I do agree with Kirkimus, and what he said about a large group of zombies and their feeding behavior. When a human is attacked by a large group, it is like putting blood in the water with a school of piranha. The attack becomes like a shark feeding frenzy, and it seems that a large group could indeed strip a human body of all of its vital organs and flesh in a matter of minutes. A large group of zombies, making such quick work of a human body, could be the reason why it seems zombies do not feed on the dead – there probably is not much left of the person fed upon, and what is left, of the corpse (if the brain is still intact), comes back as one of the horde.

    Lastly. We are talking about zombies, right?. In my geeky, horror-nerd mind, is a Ghoul not the creature that feeds on the dead . . .? Just sayin’.

  8. My opinion on the matter is this; there are a number of things that attract a zombie attack. Motion, sound, and smell all contribute to a zombie’s ability to home in on a living target. Once a victim has stopped producing those easily detectable signals, then they no longer hold the attention of the undead. However, the body may still continue to attract attention for a limited amount of time after expiration. Scents like sweat or other subtle human chemical markers do not rapidly dissipate after death, and death spasms may still attract the undead like puppy’s chew toy. Not to mention that the obviously violent act of consumption, especially when multiple undead are involved, can cause enough motion to keep an undead interested in the body. It’s similar to how a cat can play with a string for hours on end; as long as it moves their hunter instincts keep them actively enganged, even if the motion is caused by their play-hunting. I also believe that it isn’t just live flesh that attracts the undead, but WARM flesh. A human body can retain heat for several hours after death, depending on the environment. Once a body cools to the same ambient temperature of its surroundings it becomes somehow less pallatable to a zombie. So while it is possible for large groups of zombies to completely strip the mucles and organs from a corpse like a school of pirahna, a single zombie may loose interest in its victim long before any significant damage has been done.

  9. With a novel I’m working on, it’s not that they want fresh flesh but it’s that they need fresh blood. So if a zombie is solo it would bite on u but not rip u apart, but group on the other hand would try to take any piece they could get ahold of causing the body to be torn limb from limb. In this case they would feed on an body living or dead that still had uninflected blood.

  10. From how I’ve seen it, the Zombie can’t tell what is alive or what is dead, it’s a matter of what is moving, and what is making noise. The zombie will stop chewing on their victim, but that is because their victim no-longer registers as something that exists. think of it like with a baby, you don’t exist if they can’t see, or hear you, so as soon as you are out of their sight, you don’t exist .

    So do Zombies eat dead people, no, because it can’t do anything to attract a zombie to it, and if it did move around, it would be another zombie.

    • i like your analogy but if that be the case wouldnt they attack each other…? and if so would we really have to worry about a outbreak or just let them eat themselves out of existance?

  11. I was always under the assumption that they would feast on a body for only a certain period of time after the body had died. Two theories. Someone the dead can sense through taste or smell how saturated the body is with infection which would also explain how a zombies know how to not attack each other. Second theory is that they are drawn to warm meat. Since even right after death the temperature of the body starts to drop. Maybe after a point the zombies seek out warmer flesh that is more satisfying to their tastes.

    • interesting theories. however, although the undead would have a much lower temperature, surely the process of movement would bring it up a lot? this would probably ruin that theory. the other one is very good though. i always thought that the zombies would bite you once and then leave, and thereby infect you without causing unneccessary damage.

    • my only problem with this is unlike a motionless corpse the zombie has motion and it iscreating heat do to that fact so zombies do have body heat and decomp heat so that means they would still attack themselves

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