Herbivores – Guide to Plant-Eating Animals

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In this post, you will learn about what herbivores, the plant-eating animals are, what they eat, what different herbivores are, and examples of herbivore animals.

Herbivores guide to plant eating animals

Table of Contents

What Are Herbivore Animals?

Herbivores are animals that eat plants only or mostly.  These plants are vegetation such as grass, leaves, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and more.

The word Herbivore comes from the Latin words herba which means grass, and vorare which means “to devour”.

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.

Besides herbivores, in the animal kingdom, there are also carnivores and omnivores.

Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores

In the wild, we find three types of eaters.  Herbivores, which eat plants mostly, we already discussed, as well as these other two types of eaters.

Carnivore Animals

Not all animals eat plants. Carnivores are the opposite of herbivores, and carnivores are animals that eat mostly or only meat or other animals. Some carnivores can digest plant material and might eat small amounts of plant food, but other carnivores cannot digest plants at all. Some carnivores include tigers and lions.

Omnivore Animals

Omnivores are in between herbivores and carnivores.  Omnivores are animals that eat both plants and animals, in a balanced ratio.  Usually, they will eat whatever is most readily available as a food source. Some omnivore examples are bears, dogs and most birds. But there are some birds that are herbivorous, as well as some that are also carnivorous as well. Learn more about all these types at Are Birds Herbivores, Omnivores or Carnivores?

What Are Herbivores Also Called?

Herbivores are also called plant eaters or primary consumers.  This is because they eat producers such as algae and plants and are able to survive on tough plant matter and fiber.

Herbivores Pronunciation

Here is how you pronounce the word Herbivores.  Although you will hear the beginning “H” as silent sometimes, the majority of the time, herbivores is pronounced with the “H” at the beginning.

Herbivores Pronunciation

What Do Herbivores Eat?

Herbivores get all or most of their energy from plants.  Herbivores eat plants, grass, leaves, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, algae, roots, shrubs, grains, flowers, and more.

Some herbivores have multiple chambers in the stomach to allow plant matter to ferment before being further digested in different chambers.  This helps the tough plant matter to more easily be digested.

Types of Herbivores

There are two types of herbivore feeding types known as either grazers or browsers.  Grazers are herbivores that eat mainly grass in their diet (and graze in fields), such as the cow.  Browsers are animals that will browse on leaves, shrubs and twigs for the majority (at least 90%) of their diet.  The giraffe is an example of a browser.

While there are many herbivore animals that eat all types of plant-based foods in their diet, there are also some herbivorous animals that will eat mostly just one type of plant food in their diet. For example, some herbivores such as cows, are animals that eat grass mainly for their diet.

These different types of herbivores that eat mainly one type of plant food are:

  • Grass eating herbivores (called graminivores) – Such as cows
  • Leaves (called folivores) – Such as gorillas
  • Fruits (frugivores) – Such as oragutans
  • Seeds (granivore) – Such as mice
  • Nectar (Nectarivores) – Such as hummingbirds

Herbivores Teeth

Most herbivores have round and flat teeth like molars in the back.  This helps herbivores to grind up plant matter while they are chewing.

In the front, a lot of herbivores will have chisel-like teeth such as incisors.  These are useful for tearing plants such as leaves off of trees or bushes or for gnawing through wood or hard seeds.

This is in contrast to carnivores which have sharp teeth.  Sharp teeth like canines are useful for tearing meat.

Where Do You Find Herbivores?

Herbivores are found living in all types of climates and throughout the world.

Even in deserts, you will find herbivores such as tortoises.  Herbivores are also found living in grasslands and rainforests.

Herbivores can also be found living underwater.  Some herbivores such as certain ducks and geese are found living on or near bodies of water such as ponds and lakes.

Herbivore Examples

Let’s take a look at some examples of these wild animals that eat plants mostly, known as herbivores. Some examples of herbivores are elephants, bison, giraffes, gorillas, rhinos, deer, geese, pandas, horses, and camels.

You can see more examples of herbivores at Herbivores Examples or Herbivore Animals List.

Herbivores, Carnivores and Omnivores Examples

In the following video, you will find examples of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.

Herbivores, carnivores and omnivores examples
Herbivore ExamplesCarnivore ExamplesOmnivore Examples
Elephants, Deer, Bison, Cows, GiraffesVultures, Wolves, Tigers, Lions, CheetahBears, Foxes, Pigs, Racoons, Aardvarks
Herbivore, carnivore and omnivore examples

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.

Plant Eating Animals Chart

Here’s a nice Plant Eating Animals Chart which is good for children who are learning about herbivores.

Common Questions

What are Wild Animals that Eat Plants Called?

Animals that eat plants only, or mostly plants in the wild are called herbivores. You can learn more at Wild Animals That Eat Plants.

What are Animals Called that Feed On Herbivores?

Animals that eat meat and other animals are called carnivores. Carnivores that specifically feed on herbivores are called secondary consumers.

What Animals Eat Plants and Animals?

Animals that eat plants and animals are called omnivores. Some omnivores include foxes, pigs, bears, raccoons, and dogs.

Do All Animals Eat Plants?

Not all animals eat plants or can eat plants. There are some carnivorous animals that are not able to digest plant material and will not eat plants at all.

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See also  20 Small Animals that Eat Plants