Herbivorous animalsPosted on May 18, 2018 - Last modified: May 7, 2019
We consider herbivorous animals to all those animals in which their diet is based on plants, fruits and other plant material. Although there are also other types of diet such as carnivorous y omnivore.
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Herbivores are at the second level of the food chain and eat mainly plants. Herbivores are considered primary consumers and are the first consumers in the food chain.
Herbivores are primary consumers, unlike carnivores, which are secondary, this means that they are at the base of the trophic chain, which means that herbivores feed on plants, and this in turn will serve as food for the carnivores. Herbivorous animals are found in all groups of animals, mammals, insects, birds, etc.
They spend most of their time eating, since their type of diet does not provide them with enough nutrients necessary to have energy and to survive. Their teeth are usually large and flat to help them chew and grind their food well before digesting it.
They are usually very jealous and shameful animals, since they are the prey of many animals in their habitat. Instinctively they are in alert mode, so they have developed quite simple defense techniques such as fleeing, camouflaging themselves or even living in large herds to protect themselves.
Types of herbivorous animals
Herbivores don't always eat the same things. Herbivores like squirrels eat grass and small plants close to the ground and are called herders. Herbivores that eat leaves, shoots, and twigs are called browsers. Very large animals like elephants, rhinos, and elk are herders and navigators.
Herbivore animals not only eat grass, as is wrongly believed in many cases, here we have the types of herbivores and their diet.
Those that eat grass are known as phytophages. Frugivores are those that eat fruits. Granivores are the animals that feed on seeds and grains. Those that eat wood are known as Xylophages.
It is difficult for some herbivores to digest plants, so they eat a lot of them to get the nutrients they need. Grass-eating animals have ridges on their teeth to help them chew food into smaller pieces so they can digest it more easily.
Herbivorous animals often have bodies that help them get the food they need. Giraffes have long necks because they need them to reach the tops of acacia trees in order to eat.
Some herbivores eat an entire plant, but others only eat certain parts, such as seeds, fruits, or flowers. Caterpillars are a type of herbivore that only eat part of a plant, they only eat the leaves.
Herbivores have bodies that help them get their food. Animals like deer can easily bend over to eat grass.
Herbivorous animals sometimes have to chew their food again to break it down enough for their bodies to absorb the energy they need. The food they ate goes back up into their mouth after it was already in their stomach for a while and they chew it again, this food is called cake. Animals such as sheep, cows, and deer are examples of herbivores that chew their food twice.
Herbivores in other ecosystems
Herbivores in the desert
In the desert there are many small animals that eat only plants. There are many species of small rodents in the desert; some of these animals are kangaroo rats and mice. These small animals eat mostly seeds.
The desert tortoise has a hard shell to keep it safe while foraging for food in the desert heat, some of the things these tortoises eat are cactus grasses and fruits.
Although there are many small desert herbivores, there are also some large animals. The camel is an example of a large desert herbivore; they eat thick grass and thorny bushes. If camels cannot find the producers they need to feed themselves, they can also use the food stored in their humps.
Herbivores in the water
In underwater ecosystems there are many different herbivores. Herbivores in these ecosystems eat mainly algae and phytoplankton. These herbivores are called zooplankton, which means wandering animals. Some of the animals that are considered zooplankton are newborn shrimp, crabs, fish, sea worms, and water snails.
Herbivores in the forest
In the forest there are many different types of herbivores, some eat parts of plants, some eat all plants, some eat seeds, and some nectar.
Birds, bees, and butterflies eat nectar from flowers to get the nutrients they need to survive. Small animals in the forest called rodents eat the seeds of plants and insects eat the leaves of plants.
Rabbits and squirrels eat any type of plant food they can find on the forest floor.
Herbivores in the Arctic
The Arctic is very cold and includes both land and aquatic animals. There are zooplankton in Arctic waters, but on land there are many other herbivores. Some herbivores of the arctic land include lemurids, arctic hares, musk ox, caribou, and ptarmigan. Most of these animals eat plant leaves, grasses, and herbs.
Is the Human Being a herbivore?
There are people in our society who eat mainly plants and do not eat meat, we call these people Vegetarian. Vegetarians are more like herbivores than any other type of consumer because they eat mainly fruits and vegetables, which are plants.