herbivores, carnivores and omnivores

Our ecosystem needs support from each member of it whether it is a plant or an animal. If we talk about only animals, our ecosystem has millions of different category animals (like herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores) playing their vital role to maintain a smooth balance in the ecosystem.

The herbivores whose main source of energy is plant foods. They feed on different plant materials such as leaves, fruits, flowers, seeds, roots, etc. Carnivores sit one step above herbivorous animals in the food chain as they feed on other animals. Then comes the omnivorous animals that eat almost everything that they found available to feed.

As animals kingdom is an important section of the biodiversity. Being a part of the same biodiversity, we should know little more about these animals (herbivores, carnivore, and omnivores). This article will help you to enhance your knowledge about different types of animals like herbivorous, carnivorous and omnivorous.

Herbivores and their characteristics

The animals that depend on plants and trees for food are known as herbivores. They get energy from plant tissues. Due to the abundance nature of herbivores, they mainly feed on plants as a source of energy.

Generally, we know that plants are the only food supplement for herbivores but the diet may vary from animal to animal. For example- some herbivores get their food supply from plants, fruits, seeds, etc. whereas some others depend on barks, roots, nectar, etc. The characteristic of herbivorous animals will help you to know more about these animals.

  • Characteristics features of herbivores

  • Feeds only on plants

Herbivorous animals are structured in such a way that they can only feed on plants. Their intestine is designed to digest only plants.

There are some herbivorous species that depend on a particular type of food to survive. For example- Panda depends on the bamboo tree to fulfil its food requirement. Koala mostly feeds on eucalyptus.

Some other herbivores like a cow, buffalo, camels, etc. can bring their swallowed food back to chew it again. It helps to absorb nutrients properly for easy digestion.

Few herbivores like squirrel have a pair of sharp incisor teeth in each jaw that helps to bite hard food items like nuts.

On the other hand, herbivores such as butterflies & hummingbirds use their straw-like mouth to suck nectar from flowers.

  • Require a lot of energy

Herbivorous animals need ample energy to survive. This is why some herbivorous animals spend most of their time eating such as cow, elephant, buffalo, etc.

  • Possess herbivorous teeth

Herbivorous animals such as horse, goat, buffalo, etc. possess wide, flat and blunt molar teeth that help to grind the food quite easily. The herbivorous animals mostly use their molar and premolar teeth to eat food. They grab their food using these molar teeth.

  • Possess alkaline saliva

Herbivorous animals possess alkaline saliva. That is why the digestion process of herbivorous animals does not start immediately after eating food. The plants eaten by herbivorous animals go through a preparatory process before the digestion process starts.

Carnivores and their characteristics

The animals that eat flesh are termed as carnivores. These animals depend on other animals for their diet. Carnivores get energy and nutrients by consuming the tissues of other animals. The carnivore either predates or eats the dead bodies of other animals.

Carnivorous animals have different characteristics as compared to herbivores. The characteristics of carnivorous animals are as follows.

  • Characteristics features of carnivores

  • Possess carnivores teeth

Carnivorous animals have canine teeth specially designed to prey such as tiger, lion, etc. These animals possess sharp pointed canine teeth that help to hunt for food.

In the case of carnivorous birds (such as crow, eagle, hawk, etc.), they possess a curved, sharp and pointed beak that has the power to tear flesh within a few moments.

Carnivorous fishes like sharks have got many sharp teeth to bite slabs of flesh.

  • Possess powerful claws

Carnivores also possess sharp claws and strong jaws which help to tear the flesh quite easily. Whereas, some carnivores like chameleon & frogs have a long sticky tongue. They use their tongue to catch insects much faster and easier.

  • Possess acidic saliva

The carnivorous animals have acidic saliva that has the capability to digest flesh food much faster. The digestive system of carnivores is short as compare to herbivores because they do not need to break down tough cellulose found in plant food.

Omnivores and their characteristics

The animals that feed both on plants and animals are known as omnivores. For example- raccoon, bear, crow, etc. These animals got both the features of herbivores and carnivores. That is why omnivorous animals are capable to behave sometimes like herbivores and sometimes like carnivores.

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Some of the important characteristic features of omnivorous animals are as follows.

  • Characteristics features of omnivores

  • Omnivores are flexible eater

The flexibility to eat anything makes the omnivores one of the important members of the ecosystem. They eat plant food like herbivorous animals and also eat meat like other carnivorous animals. Sometimes the dietary choices of omnivores depend on the availability of food options. This is why omnivores are also known as opportunists.

  • Specially designed teeth

As omnivores eat both plants food and animals, hence they have different types of teeth. The different pair of teeth helps the omnivores to handle a variety of food items. Their incisors and canine teeth help to cut the food like carnivores and their molar and premolar teeth help to grind the food like herbivores.

  • Omnivores have monogastric stomach

The omnivorous animals have a monogastric stomach designed in such a way that they can digest a variety of food. The intestine of omnivores is of medium-length having powerful small: large intestine ration as compare to herbivores but lower than carnivorous animals.

All the animal groups whether it is a herbivore, carnivores or omnivores have their own place in the ecosystem. All these animals are an important part of the food chain and help to regulate the food chain in a proper way.


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