Classification of Animals According to Their Diet (Examples)

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Jonah Lester
Classification of Animals According to Their Diet (Examples)

According to what they eat, animals can be grouped into three categories: if they eat plants they are herbivores; if, on the contrary, they feed on other animals they are carnivores, but if they feed indistinctly on plants and animals they are called omnivores.

Cows, sheep, and horses, for example, are herbivorous animals. Tigers, lions, sharks and eagles are carnivores and humans, pigs, monkeys and chickens are omnivores.

Natural ecosystems are usually made up of communities of plants and animals (herbivores, omnivores and carnivores) that are related to each other through what we call "the food chain".

Plants are generally considered as the base of this chain, since they are autotrophic organisms, that is, they are capable of "making" their own food with the help of the sun's rays. Animals, on the other hand, are heterotrophic, which means that they have to feed on other living things to survive..

Thus, the diet of an animal usually determines its presence and abundance in a given place, as well as many of its physical and behavioral characteristics..

Article index

  • 1 Herbivorous animals
    • 1.1 Examples of herbivorous animals
  • 2 Carnivorous animals
    • 2.1 Examples of carnivorous animals
  • 3 Omnivorous animals
    • 3.1 Examples of omnivorous animals
  • 4 References

Herbivorous animals

Herbivorous animals are those that feed exclusively on plants. Animals of all shapes and sizes belong to this group, from huge elephants to tiny butterflies..

Since they feed on plants, these animals are very close to the bottom of the food chain and are therefore very abundant in all ecosystems (lack of food resources is generally not a problem). Some of its characteristics are:

  • They are elusive and skittish animals.
  • You can get them in large groups.
  • They have large, flat teeth and strong jaws..
  • Its digestive system is long and complex, usually with several gastric chambers..
  • They do not usually have any physical traits to defend themselves from their predators.
  • They are the main food of carnivores.

Depending on the type of plant tissue on which they feed, some authors consider that herbivores can be classified as frugivores (if they eat fruits), nectarivores (if they feed on flower nectar), granivores (if they eat seeds) and xylophagous (if they eat of wood).

Examples of herbivorous animals

Crickets

Many insects are herbivorous animals, and crickets are no exception. These small jumping insects feed on the leaves of different plant species, and can sometimes also feed on flowers..

Caterpillars and the butterflies

A caterpillar

They are herbivorous insects that prefer the leaves of trees. The caterpillars of silk butterflies, for example, are lepidopterans that feed on the leaves of a tree known as "mulberry" and whose cocoon is used by man to make fabrics (silk).

Cows

They are perhaps the most abundant domestic mammals, since man uses their meat and milk to feed themselves. They are large ruminants that feed on different types of plants, especially grasses and grasses..

The sheep

A sheep

Along with cows, sheep are one of the most abundant animals on farms, since their fur (wool) is used to make clothes. They are medium-sized mammals that feed mainly on grasses that graze on the ground; they are ruminant animals.

Horses

They are large mammalian animals that have very obvious flat teeth, which they use to pluck and chew leaves and fruits of different plants. Their digestive system is not very efficient, so they have to eat large amounts of vegetables on a daily basis..

The rabbits

They are small mammals, wild or domestic, that feed mainly on fresh herbs. They are characterized by having a digestive system that allows them to quickly digest large amounts of food.

Elephants (pachyderms)

They are one of the largest and heaviest mammals in the world; depending on the species and the time of year they feed on tree leaves, fruits and flowers or stems and branches.

Giraffes

They are also extremely tall and large mammals that feed on the aerial portions of trees in the environments where they live..

Panda bears

These mammals, spatially restricted to the Asian continent, are among the most charismatic animals in the world and essentially feed on bamboo leaves..

The zebras

They are horse-like mammals that mainly inhabit the African savannas, where they feed on grass, grasses, and different parts of some trees..

The camelids (camels, llamas, vicuñas, alpacas and guanacos)

Call

Whether it is the Asian, African or South American species, they are all artiodactyl mammals that feed on the leaves and shoots of various plants.

The snails

Some species of these mollusks have exclusively herbivorous diets and feed on whatever plant organism they find in their path..

Some species of bats (frugivorous and nectarivorous)

Many bats, which are the only flying mammals on earth, feed on fruits or the nectar of certain flowers, so they are also important pollinators..

Carnivorous animals

Carnivorous animals feed exclusively on the meat of other animals, generally herbivores and, as in this group, there are carnivorous animals of all kinds of the animal kingdom, so their size and shape is highly variable. Some of its characteristics are:

  • They are animals adapted for hunting: they have claws, sharp teeth and keen senses of smell, vision and hearing..
  • In terms of abundance, they are in a lower proportion than herbivores and many of them are in danger of extinction.
  • They can be terrestrial, aerial or aquatic.
  • Their digestive system is normally shorter than that of herbivores and is designed for the rapid digestion of animal tissues..
  • They are specialists in wakefulness and predation.

Examples of carnivorous animals

The Lions

Lions hunting

These felines of the species Panthera leo found in Africa, where they feed on zebras, gazelles, antelopes, and other medium-sized mammals that live in herds.

The Tigers

They are also felines of the genus Panthera; They are found in Africa and Asia, but unlike lions, these are solitary hunters of crawling birds and small and medium-sized mammals..

Cougars

These cats inhabit almost the entire American continent and feed on large mammals such as deer or camelids and small rodents..

The Wolves

A wolf

They are mammals of the genus Canis who live in packs and hunt like that too. Their food varies depending on the region they live in and availability, but generally consists of wild boars, sheep, and other large and small herbivorous mammals..

The Eagles

They are exclusively carnivorous birds, with a prodigious sense of sight. They are capable of flying at high speeds to catch up with their prey, which are mainly rodents and small mammals..

Spiders

They are invertebrates of the Arachnida class; they generally have 8 pairs of legs and 6 to 8 eyes. They feed on other small invertebrates, mainly insects, which they can catch in the nets they make for this purpose..

The snakes

They are sauropsid reptiles that do not have legs and that crawl on the ground. Many of them are poisonous and feed on insects, small rodents, or even medium-sized mammals..

Anteaters

They are mammals that inhabit the American continent and receive their name because their main food consists of arthropods of the Hymenoptera order, specifically of the Formicidae family..

Crocodiles

These large reptiles are exclusively carnivores. They live mainly in bodies of fresh water, although there are species of salt water (they are semi-aquatic animals). They are very fast and feed on different types of animals, depending on where they live.

The Sharks

These large cartilaginous fish are among the most voracious predators in the oceans and seas. They feed on other fish, large or small, mollusks, crustaceans and other marine arthropods.

The octopuses

They are marine mollusks that generally feed on other mollusks, crustaceans and other mollusks, and can even eat small fish..

Jellyfish

These aquatic organisms of the group of the cnidarians are carnivorous animals that have very varied diets; use their tentacles to trap and immobilize their prey.

Toads and frogs

Both amphibians are carnivores, being able to feed on insects or even rodents and other small animals..

Omnivorous animals

Omnivores are all those animals that have a mixed diet, that is, they eat both plants and the meat of other animals. Their diet may vary according to the availability of food and the seasons of the year (summer, fall, winter and spring). Some of its characteristics are:

  • They have dentures with sharp teeth and flat teeth that help them chew the two types of food they eat.
  • Their digestive system can be described as a "mix" of the digestive system characteristics of herbivores and carnivores..
  • It is a very diverse group and is considered "more successful" from an evolutionary point of view than strictly carnivorous or herbivorous animals..
  • They are relatively more "social" animals than the other two groups (with their exceptions)..

Examples of omnivorous animals

The toucans

They are medium-sized birds, characterized by having large and colorful beaks. They eat both the meat of other animals and the fruits and seeds of plants. They can be found in much of the American continent, especially in tropical humid forests.

Macaws

They are birds similar to a parrot, but with a larger and sharper beak; they have very colorful plumage and are extremely intelligent. They feed on fruits, seeds and also on insects and snails.

The hens

They are poultry highly domesticated and exploited by man. They eat fruits, seeds, leaves of plants and insects and worms (practically anything).

Pigs

They are wild or domestic animals capable of eating anything, depending on availability..

The Bears

They are large mammals that can feed on fish and other small mammals as well as fruits and other plant tissues..

Rats and mice

Both types of rodents are characterized by their ability to live almost anywhere, being able to feed on vegetables, animals and even paper and cardboard.

The ladybugs

They are small insects of striking colors that feed mainly on other insects of the group of aphids.

Whales

Since they feed on zooplankton (and occasionally some small fish) and phytoplankton, these large animals can be considered omnivores.

Humans

Although currently there are currents such as vegetarianism and veganism, human beings are omnivorous animals, since we need to obtain mineral nutrients, fiber, fats, carbohydrates and proteins from plant and animal foods to develop correctly.

References

  1. Baker, P. J .; Boitani, L .; Harris, S .; Saunders G. & White, P. C. (2008). Terrestrial carnivores and human food production: impact and management. Mammal Review 38: 123-166.
  2. Bilewicz, M., Imhoff, R., & Drogosz, M. (2011). The humanity of what we eat: Conceptions of human uniqueness among vegetarians and omnivores. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41 (2), 201-209.
  3. Brusca, R. C., & Brusca, G. J. (2003). Invertebrates (No. QL 362. B78 2003). Basingstoke.
  4. Dayton, M. 2019. Herbivore, Omnivore and Carnivore Animals (On-line), Sciencing, Accessed August 25, 2020 at sciencing.com
  5. Hellmann, C., Wissel, B., & Winkelmann, C. (2013). Omnivores as seasonally important predators in a stream food web. Freshwater Science, 32 (2), 548-562.
  6. Hickman, C. P., Roberts, L. S., & Larson, A. (1997). Integrated principles of zoology. 10th edn. Boston: WCB.
  7. Nguyen, P., Martin, L., Loukil, L., & Dumon, H. (1996). Feline alimentation: behavior and physiological particularity. POINT VETERINAIRE, 28, 13-18.

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