We explain to you what are herbivorous animals, their characteristics, types and examples. In addition, carnivorous and omnivorous animals.
What are herbivorous animals?
Herbivorous animals are those whose feeding depends almost exclusively on plants and vegetables, that is, they do not usually feed on anything else except leaves, stems, fruits, flowers or other derivatives of the plant kingdom.
For that reason, herbivores are primary consumers, that is, they are part of the first step of consuming organisms in almost all food or food chains. Thus, they provide sustenance for carnivores and omnivores that prey on them.
In addition, they are an important vector in the dispersal of vegetable seeds . The herbivores ingest them along with the fruits and then excrete them in another place, giving rise to the birth of a new tree or shrub away from the shadow of their parent.
Herbivore organisms are adapted to their diet . In other words, they have body structures that allow them to better crush the hard plant fibers, and extract the greatest amount of nutrients from them, throughout a generally slow and long digestive process.
There are herbivorous animals of all types and species. However, the most significant for their impact on ecosystems are insects, particularly numerous and diverse in almost all ecosystems. There are also abundant ruminant mammals, which humans have been able to tame since the dawn of civilization.
It can serve you: Heter trophe
Characteristics of herbivorous animals
Herbivores generally have structures adapted to their feeding model, either to cut the leaves, crush the stems or bore the wood to sip the sage.
These structures can be tweezers, spikes or simply thick molars, as in the case of ruminants, animals that spend all day chewing and chewing the vegetable fibers consumed, to ensure their full use.
Similarly, large herbivores, such as ruminant mammals, have a slow and complex digestive system, often composed of several stomachs, ideal for the total use of plant matter, much harder and more resistant than meat. Therefore, it is necessary to devote a lot of time to food.
Something similar occurs with termites, whose digestive system allows the breakdown of wood pulp, or with aphids, equipped with an oral appliance that allows them to sip the sage directly from the stem, thus facilitating digestive work.
Types of herbivorous animals
Herbivores are classified based on their diet, that is, what type of plant material they consume mostly. Many species can combine categories, while others may have more exclusive diets.
- Frugivorous Those who feed mainly on fruits, either constantly (usually in the tropics) or seasonally (in temperate latitudes).
- Folivores Those that feed on the leaves and stems of plants, often with the help of symbiotic bacteria that allow them to absorb nutrients and break down the abundant cellulose.
- Xylophages Those who feed on wood, mostly arthropods.
- Granivores Those that feed on seeds or grains.
- Rhizophages Those who feed on roots.
Examples of herbivorous animals
It is not difficult to get examples of herbivorous animals. 20% of existing mammals are frugivorous, for example, including apes such as orangutans, and a high percentage of birds also, such as macaws or toucans.
Among the folklore we find the cow, the buffalo, the bison, the giraffe and a huge variety of ruminant mammals . Also caterpillars and aphids are pleasing, considered in many plantations as pests.
On the other hand, termites are a perfect example of xylophages, and squirrels, field rats and vizcachas are examples of rhizophage animals. And we can take as an example a large selection of seed-eating birds, such as parakeets, parrots, geese, ducks, etc.
Unlike herbivores, carnivorous animals have diets almost exclusively based on meat, which makes them stubborn predators and / or carriages.
Organic animal matter is much more nutritious and easier to digest than vegetable. Therefore, carnivores tend to feed less times and digest more simply than their herbivorous counterpart.
They have organs adapted for hunting (claws, powerful jaws, poisons to immobilize the prey, etc.), and dentures adapted for tearing muscle fibers and other organic tissues. The best example of carnivorous animals is the big cats of the savanna and the jungle, such as lions, tigers, panthers, pumas or cheetahs.
More in: Carnivorous animals
When an animal does not have a specialized diet, but is fed opportunistically (that is, with what it has on hand), we can call it an omnivorous animal (from the omnis brass, all ).
The omnivores have little specialized digestive systems, being able to feed on organic matter both vegetable and animal, from a very varied range of possible food sources. Examples of omnivorous animals are dogs, jackals, foxes, bears, ostriches, turtles and, also, humans.
More in: omnivorous animals