Animals can be categorized based on their mode of nutrition as well. Unlike plants, animals cannot prepare their own so they have to depend on the different food source, which provides them with the energy required for their metabolic activities. Therefore animals feed on plants and meat. Animals that survive on plants – grains, seeds, leaves, etc. are called Herbivores animals. Animals that survive on meat are called Carnivores animals and which feed on both plants and animals are called the omnivores Animals.
A food chain consists of a variety of animals with distinctive eating habits. Organisms in the food web tend to be grouped into trophic or in other words called nutritional levels.
There are three trophic levels and it begins with the:
Autotrophs– An organisms that produce their own food like plants and algae, are placed at the first trophic level. For example- Plants, algae, and even few photosynthetic bacteria.
Herbivores– A group of organisms that feed on plants and their products, are placed at the second trophic level.
Carnivores and omnivores– A group of organisms that feed on a wide variety of organisms from plants to animals to fungi and are placed at the third trophic level. Carnivores are also called as the meat-eaters.
Apart from their food habitat, there are many other differences between these animals. Here, let us known some special characteristics about the Herbivores and Carnivores.
The herbivores are those animals which feed only on plants and other plant products. They are at the second trophic level in the food web. All animals are consumers, and herbivores are the primary consumers. For example- Cows, goat, giraffe, sheep, zebra, etc.
Other special characteristics of herbivores animals are:
- Herbivores animals have long digestive tracts.
- Herbivores have teeth designed for chewing vegetation.
- Few herbivores have a pair of sharp-edged, broad front teeth which helps in gnawing food products.
- Herbivores like a grass-eating cow, goat, and horse have blunt and wide teeth, which are mainly suitable for pulling the plant from the soil and grinding them.
- Few Herbivores, including cattle, camel, goat, giraffe, deer, sheep yak, have four-compartment stomach and have an ability to bring back the swallowed food from the stomach to the mouth for chewing. These herbivores animals are called as the ruminants.
Also, read Digestion In Ruminants
Carnivores are predators and are at the very apex of the food web. They hunt for food and are called prey. Most carnivores get their food and nutrients indirectly through herbivores that feed on plants. Carnivorous animals are a crucial part of the food chain since they act as natural population control for herbivores.
Carnivores are physically meant to effectively chase, hunt, capture, kill and consume their prey. We are used to visualizing these predators as monstrously huge, with long canine’s, dripping with saliva and claws that can tear flesh apart, but you see, they needn’t all be this huge or look so dangerous. The honey badger is a medium-sized carnivore and they happen to eat mice, squirrels and so on. Most carnivorous animals are beautifully designed to be extremely effective.
For instance, the carnivore has its eyes located on the front of its head, which helps them to have depth perception in hunting by empowering the animal to determine how far a prey is and how fast it’s moving.
Carnivorous animals also have very powerful jaws and sharp teeth, which make it possible for them to bite and hold large and strong prey. This adaptation makes carnivores strong hunters because it helps them to capture and kill their prey. These animal depend on meat and consume them for their food and as a source of energy. Like herbivores, carnivores animals do have a set of teeth that are very different from them and are designed for ripping meat from their prey. As carnivorous are meat-eaters, they have largely defined canine teeth for tearing at meat and combined with a limited number of molars for grinding.
Other special characteristics of carnivores animals are:
- They are very fast runners.
- These animals do not chew food.
- Carnivores animals cannot detoxify vitamin A in the liver.
- The length of the intestine in the carnivores animals are small.
- They have sharp incisors and canines are for biting and extremely razor-sharp claws and powerful jaws for tearing flesh.
Tiger, Lion, Cheetah, Jaguar, Leopards, Wolves, are a few examples of Carnivores animals.
Also, read the Differences between Herbivores and Carnivores Animals.
Learn more about animals, their types, characteristic features and other related topics @ BYJU’S Biology