In this post, we will explore many examples of animals that are herbivores, what makes them herbivores, and what each one eats.
What are Herbivore Animals?
Herbivore animals are animals that eat primarily plant-based foods. As we learned in Animals That Only Eat Plants (or Mostly Plants), herbivores do not always eat only plants, but the majority of their diet consists of plant-based foods.
Some herbivores will eat small amounts of animal-based food in their daily diet or only on occasion, such as when plant-based foods are scarce. But usually, herbivores will eat over 90-95% of their diet primarily in plant-based foods.
Learn more about herbivores at Herbivores – Guide to Plant-Eating Animals.
Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores
We learned above that herbivores are animals that eat plants. There are two other types of eaters.
Animals that eat mainly meat or other animal foods are known as carnivores. (Examples of carnivores). In birds, you see examples of herbivores, carnivores and omnivores depending on the species of bird.
What Do Herbivores Eat?
Herbivores get all or most of their energy from plants. Herbivores eat plants, flowers, grass, leaves, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, algae, roots, shrubs, grains, and more.
One common type of herbivore is the graminivore. Graminivores eat mostly grass in their diet, and we will learn about some of those animals later on. (Learn more at Herbivore Animals that Eat Mostly Grass Called Grazers or find examples of animals that eat any amount of grass at Animals that Eat Grass)
Examples of Herbivore Animals
Let’s look at some animals that are herbivores next. Below you will find some animals in more detail.
The beloved elephant. The elephant conjures up images of an elephant at a circus eating hay and bananas. And that’s what elephants eat, plus more.
Elephants eat grass, fruit, roots, and bark. An elephant is a very large animal and consumes a lot of food a day. An elephant can eat up to 300 pounds of food per day!
The common fruits and vegetables eaten by an elephant are bananas, apples, and carrots and they can even eat a ton of other fruits and veggies such as pears, pineapples, kale, and more.
In the wild, elephants will also eat bamboo, just like pandas, and also rice, sugar cane, corn, and leaves.
The elephant is quite a large and powerful animal for one that only eats fruits, vegetables, and plants!
Cows have a diet of mostly eating all grass. They might also graze and eat some leaves, but the majority of a cow’s natural diet will be grass.
This is not always true for dairy and farm cows. The cows will still eat grass, in the form of hay. Over 50% of their diet still might consist of grass, but a lot of times the rest of the diet is filled with grain and left-over plant remains such as citrus pulp or canola meal.
That’s why in more recent times you will see some dairy and beef advertised as being grass-fed. This means that the cow was allowed to eat a more natural diet of almost all grass.
Herbivores that eat mainly or only grass, such as cows and cattle are called graminivores.
Learn more at Animals that Eat Grass Only (or Mostly)
Zebras are another example of a graminivore and eat the majority of their diet as grass. The zebras’ favorite food is grass, which makes up 90% of its diet. Zebras will also eat some leaves, twigs and shrubs, especially when they cannot find grass to eat.
Zebras are vegetarian and do not eat any meat.
Pandas live almost entirely on eating bamboo. They eat the leaves, shoots and stems of the bamboo and they can eat anywhere from 25 to 85 pounds of bamboo per day!
Actually, pandas help to spread the bamboo plant by also spreading the bamboo seeds through their natural process.
A very small percentage of their diet, less than 1% will sometimes include other plants than bamboo and small rodents.
Kangaroos eat mainly grass and leaves in the wild. They can also eat shrubs, herbs, fruit, nuts, vegetables, ferns, moss, and plants. Ground-dwelling kangaroos do not eat any meat. Occasionally they will eat insects.
Tree kangaroos, however, spend most of their time up in trees and will eat whatever the tree provides, including bark, fruit, leaves, flowers, seeds, and sap, but also some animal foods such as birds and bird eggs.
Another animal that only eats plants is the deer. Deer eat plenty of leaves, twigs, nuts, fruits, grass, shrubs, and weeds.
See more at What do deer eat?
How could it get so strong eating plants? It does, the gorilla is extremely strong and another animal that only eats plants and is predominantly vegetarian or plant-based.
Gorillas are a class of herbivores known as folivores. The exact diet is different depending on the species and location of the gorilla, but most feed largely and plant leaves, stems and roots. They also feed on fruits and in one region, a type of gorilla eats over 50% of its diet in fruit.
A very small percentage. less than 2-3%, of some species of gorillas’ diets, are ants, termites and snails.
The gorilla is classified as a folivore, one that eats mostly leaves.
Horses eat mostly grass or hay. But they can also eat fruits and vegetables as well as grains.
Horses are extremely strong and active animals and get plenty of nutrition from eating mostly grass.
What do Horses eat?
In the wild, giraffes eat mostly leaves and twigs or trees. Their long necks allow them to get up high into trees and eat the leaves.
If you have squirrels where you live, you probably notice them finding acorns or nuts a lot. They will also invade bird feeders and eat the seeds out of these feeders.
This is because squirrels are mainly herbivorous and eat mostly plant food. Squirrels eat mainly seeds, nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, acorns, hickory nuts), leaves, all kinds of fruits such as berries, all kinds of vegetables such as corn, whole grains, bark, and fungi.
Some species of squirrels will eat some animal food in their diet. Also, squirrels might turn to animal foods such as insects or eggs, but only when plant-food sources such as fruits and nuts are scarce. Squirrels don’t eat meat except when in starvation mode. The nuts and fruit are their preferred food which they will eat first.
Beavers are animals that only eat plants. Beavers eat bark, twigs, and stems. They will also eat leaves, grass, and roots.
Camels eat primarily grass, twigs, and leaves of plants. Camels can eat a wide variety of plants and have a tough mouth that can even handle thorns.
Bison eat primarily grass, weeds, and leafy plants. They eat about 30 pounds of grass a day.
The butterfly eats mostly nectar from flowers. It can also eat the liquid from rotting fruit as well.
Geese are birds that are classified as herbivores. They eat mainly grass and you will see the grazing near ponds or bodies of water.
Learn more at Are Birds Herbivores or Omnivores? (Or Carnivores?)
Hippos are mainly vegetarian and eat lots of grass. In fact, they will eat up to 80-100 lbs. of grass per day. Hippos also eat fruit that they may find and will also eat vegetables such as sweet potatoes.
It is noted that Hippos were considered vegetarian for many years and were considered not to ever eat meat. More recently, however, there have been reports and recordings of incidents in which hippos were seen eating other dead animals.
Although hippos have been documented eating meat on occasion, this doesn’t mean they aren’t still herbivores, since the majority of their diet comes from plants, such as grass.
Herbivore Animals List
Here’s a list of some herbivore animals.
- Guinea Pig
- Parrot Fish
- Green Sea Turtle
- Three-Toed Sloth
Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores Examples
In the following video, you will find examples of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
|Herbivore Examples||Carnivore Examples||Omnivore Examples|
|Elephants, Deer, Bison, Cows, Giraffes||Vultures, Wolves, Tigers, Lions, Cheetah||Bears, Foxes, Pigs, Racoons, Aardvarks|
Five examples of herbivores are Elephants, Deer, Bison, Cows, and Giraffes.
Five Examples of carnivores include Vultures, Wolves, Tigers, and Lions.
Five examples of omnivores are Bears, Foxes, Pigs, Racoons, and Aardvarks.