Animals That Eat Both Plants And Animals: Omnivore Facts For Kids | Kidadl


Animals That Eat Both Plants And Animals: Omnivore Facts For Kids

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The food chain classifies animals into three groups based on their diet, herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.

While herbivores eat only plants, carnivores only prey on the meat of other animals or carrion. Similarly, omnivores are animals that eat both plants and other animals.

Herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores are the predominant categories. Some animals are fruit-eaters (frugivores), insect-eaters (insectivores), or fish-eaters (piscivores). Some animals survive only by eating carrion (detritivores), which are the remains of dead animals. The food chain starts with producers like plants and ends with the alpha predators such as sharks and lions, scavengers such as woodlice and earthworms, or decomposers, like fungi and bacteria.

The diet of the animal does not correspond to its size. For example, giraffes are considerably large and yet eat plants, whereas a cat is small and prey upon mice or rats. Likewise, Grizzly Bears are giant animals with sharp teeth but are also known to eat plant matter like berries, fruits, seeds, twigs even though animals remain a significant part of their diets.

Omnivorous animals are opportunistic eaters having a wide variety of diets comprising plant material and the meat of other animals. The term 'omnivorous' originated from the Latin words 'omnis,' meaning 'everything or all' and 'vorare' meaning 'to eat or devour.' Thus, an omnivore is known to eat almost everything and anything when it is hungry.

Omnivores are thought to play a significant role in the food chain occupying the third level. There are several levels in the food chain used to describe the role of the animal in an ecosystem. Therefore, an omnivore is known to produce energy and nutrients for other living creatures. Omnivores have different types of teeth to consume a variety of animal and plant matter. Omnivores have incisors in front for cutting, canines for tearing the meat, and molars to grind up the food. Some examples of omnivores include mammals, insects, birds, and reptiles such as chickens, hummingbirds, ostriches, cranes, bears, chipmunks, squirrels, pigs, raccoons, monkeys, humans, catfish, ants, turtles, frogs, and many more.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about animals with opposable thumbs and animals that eat grass here on Kidadl?

What do you call animals that eat both plants and meat?

The animal feeding upon both plants and meat is called an omnivore.

The kingdom Animalia involves over 1.5 million species that are grouped together based on the diet they consume. While some animals eat plants, herbivores, other animals prey and feed upon the meat of animals, carnivores. Also, omnivores are the species of animal that eat both plants and animals. Apart from herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, the food chain consisits of insectivores or insect-eaters, frugivores or fruit-eaters, piscivores or fish-eaters, granivores or seed-eaters, and detritivores or scavengers.

The omnivorous animals are known to have significant importance in the ecosystem. Omnivores are classified into diverse groups of animals. Some animals that eat both plants and meat are chickens, hummingbirds, ostriches, cranes, bears, chipmunks, squirrels, pigs, raccoons, monkeys, humans, catfish, ants, turtles, frogs, and many more. They consume a wide variety of food like plant materials such as berries, fruits, seeds, twigs, leaves, and the meat and carrion of various animals.

Omnivores hunt animals, and they are also hunted by other animals too. Thus, they are both predators and preys. For instance, squirrels are omnivores that prey upon insects and the eggs of various birds. At the same time, they are hunted by bears and birds of prey such as American kestrels, Bald Eagles, Cooper's Hawks, Great Grey Owls, Great Horned Owls, Northern Harriers, Northern Goshawks, Red-shouldered Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and Sharp-shinned Hawks. Also, these animals survive in various environments as they are opportunistic eaters found eating anything and everything, including plants, insects, fish, meat, or carrion.

Examples Of Omnivores In The Animal Kingdom

An omnivore eats plants, animals, eggs, insects, fungi, meat, fruits, seeds, berries, fish, algae, and carrion. It eats everything and anything to satisfy its hunger. They also have a variety of teeth that are helpful to eat and digest a wide variety of food consumed. While the incisors in the front are used for cutting, molars help grind, and canines assist in tearing.

Omnivores include birds like chickens, hummingbirds, robins, ostriches, starlings, cranes, flamingos, swans, and woodpeckers. Mammals such as bears, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, rats, pigs, sloths, monkeys, and many insects, including spiders, beetles, ants, cockroaches, crickets, flies, and wasps. Even fish such as catfish, opaleyes, bonnethead sharks, and many others also belong to the omnivores group.

You may be amazed to learn that many dinosaurs such as Heterodontosaurus, Gallimimus, Oviraptor, Troodons, Ornithomimus, and Therizinosaurus were also considered omnivores. These omnivores were known to inhabit an extensive range of habitats as they fed upon a large variety of foods.

Omnivores are well-adapted to live in deserts, mountains, and other areas with harsh or extreme climates. Hence, they have a higher rate of survival than many herbivores and carnivores.

Are you interested in learning about the plants and animals that omnivores eat? Let's have a look at the diet of various omnivorous animals.

Brown Bear: The Brown Bear is a huge-sized mammal that primarily feeds on berries, flowers, grasses, herbs, and roots. It will also eat beavers, deer, caribou, salmon, carcasses, and other small mammals.

Fox: Similarly, foxes are primarily carnivores, while they also feed on berries and fungi when there is an unavailability of their favorite food.

Raccoon: Raccoons are yet another omnivorous species that eat plants like berries or fruit seeds and the meat of small animals like rabbits and insects.

Likewise, many small and big mammals, including dogs, squirrels, opossums, pigs, sloths, wild boars, bats, rats, wolves, shrews, hamsters, and whales, are also known to be omnivores. Also, smaller species like ants, spider beetles, salmon flies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers, dragonflies, wasps, mantids, and cockroaches feed on an omnivorous diet comprising plants and animals. For instance, a Pygmy Grasshopper eats plants and animal tissues, whereas Spider Beetles are scavengers that feed on dead insects and plants. Furthermore, primates like Aye-Ayes, Galagos, Gibbons, Great Apes, humans, and monkeys are omnivores.

Similarly, several birds like crows, chickens, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, rails, swans, magpies, and ravens are omnivores as well. An owl is primarily among the carnivores preying upon insects, spiders, crabs, earthworms, snails, fish, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. But, it is also well adapted to survive in harsh conditions when there is poor availability of its primary food, and it can digest leaves, fruits, seeds, and twigs. Concluding, these animals and birds are pretty adaptive, having a wide range of habitats and diets.

Portrait of a red fox.

Why do some animals eat both plants and animals?

Various animals have a special diet, like frugivores eating fruits or berries, piscivores consuming fish, or insectivores eating insects. Likewise, herbivores eat plant matter, whereas carnivores or meat-eaters prey upon other animals. The existence of such animals depends on the availability of a favorable food source. Imagine a forest with no vegetation! How would a giraffe survive?

Similarly, what would a lion prey upon if a lion is caged in a forest alone with no animals around? A giraffe cannot survive without eating green vegetation, nor will a lion be able to live for long without eating or preying upon the meat of other animals. Unlike herbivores or carnivores, omnivores have a wide range of food they eat as they are known to eat anything or everything. For instance, if a bear does not eat fruits, berries, or insects, the bear can feed upon fish, mammals, carrion, or the meat of dead animals. Therefore, the bears or omnivores are thought to have a higher survival rate than herbivores and carnivores.

Also, an omnivore is adapted to feed upon a variety of food as it has different types of teeth to perform individual functions. These animals have incisors in front for cutting, canines for tearing the meat, and molars to grind up the food. Hence, they are pretty adaptive, living in an extensive range of habitats and feeding upon a great variety of food ranging from insects, fish, berries, fruits, carrion, and meat of birds, mammals, and other animals. Thus, omnivores feed at various trophic levels with the advantage of a wide variety of food for satisfying their dietary needs and hunger.

Herbivores and carnivores belong to the second and third trophic levels of the food chain, respectively. Often omnivores are speculated to be closely related to herbivores and carnivores but are known to have several differences. Unlike herbivores, omnivores do not eat all types of plants as they can't digest several seeds or grains. Likewise, omnivore animals are known not to digest all meat properly as some feed on insects or fish while others feed upon small animals or birds. Also, insects that are omnivores are known to act as pollinators. In conclusion, omnivores have significant importance in the ecosystem, too, as they produce energy and nutrients for other animals.

Are humans omnivores?

While primates are known as omnivores, humans are also known to thrive on an omnivorous diet typically. Some people have chosen to become vegetarians, eggetarians, or vegans. A vegetarian eats mainly plants but will also consume some animal products such as dairy. An eggetarian is primarily an herbivore who feeds upon eggs but is not considered a carnivore as they do not consume meat or flesh. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, but it is much more restrictive than vegetarians as they do not consume any animal products. Humans have a wide range of food; thus, they can be classified as omnivores.

Humans eat cooked or plants comprising fruit, berry, seed, leaf, and flower, and some also feed upon meat and flesh of various animals and birds like chickens, goats, fish, crabs, and so on. The dietary components for humans have multiple options, enabling people to cook with a wide range of ingredients based on plant and animal products.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for animals that eat both plants and animals, then why not take a look at animals that hibernate or animals in Arizona?

Written By
Gurpuneet Kaur

Gurpuneet is currently pursuing a degree in economics and has lots of experience working with young people. She has worked as a tutor and has volunteered for Action India, teaching and providing medical assistance to the underprivileged. She has also worked for various education agencies, creating student study guides. Along with this, Gurpuneet has written and managed content for multiple sites and companies and was a campus ambassador at her university, where she studied economics. She loves to write about tourist places in India and enjoys conjuring up fun facts for Kidadl.

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