• Animals that feed only on plants and plant products are called herbivores or herbivorous animals.
e.g.: giraffe, sheep, rabbit, cow, horse, panda bear, elephant, etc.
• Herbivores eat leaves, berries, roots, or even bark of a tree.
Special characteristics of herbivores:
Herbivores have flat teeth.
They need to chew a lot in order to break down plant materials into very small pieces.
Having flat teeth helps herbivores to chew easier.
Herbivores spend a lot of their time grazing and browsing to get the nutrients they need.
Many herbivores have special digestive system that let them digest all kinds of plants; including grasses.
Some herbivores like cow, horse, and goat have wide and blunt teeth.
• The animals that get the food by eating other animals are called carnivores or carnivorous animals.
• Carnivores generally eat herbivores and other animals.
• Carnivores have to hunt down and kill other animals.
• Thus, carnivores are called as ‘predators’.
Special characteristics of carnivores:
Carnivore diet mainly consists of meat.
Some animals like lion and stalk kill their own prey. Carnivores of this kind are called ‘hunters’.
Other carnivores such as hyena do not kill other animals but they search for dead animals and eat them. These carnivores are called ‘scavengers’.
Carnivores need very sharp teeth and strong jaws to tear the meat from the bone.
e.g.: lions, tigers, crocodiles, polar bears, wolves, etc. are all carnivores.
Some spiders are also carnivores.
Carnivores that eat insects are called ‘insectivores’. Some carnivores have powerful jaws that help bring down large animals like deer.
Some carnivores that have sharp claws help them to catch prey.
Some carnivores spend a lot of time hunting in the water.
Meat eating birds have keen eyesight that makes it easier for them to spot their prey. They have sharp talons to catch prey and curved beaks to tear up meat.
Some carnivores have a long and sticky tongue to catch insects. e.g. Chameleon
Animals that eat either other animals or plants are called omnivores or omnivorous animals.
Some omnivores hunt and eat their food like carnivores.
Some omnivores are ‘scavengers’.
Omnivores eat plants (but not all kinds of plants).
Some of the insect omnivores are ‘pollinators’.
Some omnivores like black bears do not hunt for meat; but if they happen to come across any dead animal, they eat it.
Humans are omnivores too.
Our teeth are designed to eat both plants and meat.
The teeth of omnivores are not as specialized as carnivores or herbivores.
The organisms that break down dead or decaying matter are called ‘decomposers’.
Dead plants and animals are food for the decomposers.
e.g.: bacteria, fungi, earthworms.
Decomposers recycle dead plants and animals into chemical nutrients like carbon and nitrogen that are released back into the soil, air, and water.
Fungi absorb nutrients from the organisms they decompose.
Some fungi are edible or used in making food.
The other best example of decomposer is bacteria.
Bacteria can be found everywhere.
Bacteria are the smallest forms of life on Earth.
We have bacteria in our digestive tract that kills more harmful bacteria.
Some organisms have bacteria in their stomach that help them digest plants.