Herbivores, Omnivores, and Carnivores
Herbivores are animals whose primary food source is plant-based. Examples of herbivores, as shown in Figure include vertebrates like deer, koalas, and some bird species, as well as invertebrates such as crickets and caterpillars. These animals have evolved digestive systems capable of handling large amounts of plant material. Herbivores can be further classified into frugivores (fruit-eaters), granivores (seed eaters), nectivores (nectar feeders), and folivores (leaf eaters).
Carnivores are animals that eat other animals. The word carnivore is derived from Latin and literally means “meat eater.” Wild cats such as lions, shown in Figurea and tigers are examples of vertebrate carnivores, as are snakes and sharks, while invertebrate carnivores include sea stars, spiders, and ladybugs, shown in Figureb. Obligate carnivores are those that rely entirely on animal flesh to obtain their nutrients; examples of obligate carnivores are members of the cat family, such as lions and cheetahs. Facultative carnivores are those that also eat non-animal food in addition to animal food. Note that there is no clear line that differentiates facultative carnivores from omnivores; dogs would be considered facultative carnivores.
Omnivores are animals that eat both plant- and animal-derived food. In Latin, omnivore means to eat everything. Humans, bears (shown in Figurea), and chickens are example of vertebrate omnivores; invertebrate omnivores include cockroaches and crayfish (shown in Figureb).