What Are Examples Of Herbivores? Curious Food Chain Facts For Kids | Kidadl

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What Are Examples Of Herbivores? Curious Food Chain Facts For Kids

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Herbivores primarily eat plant material.

Owing to their dentition pattern and unique digestive system, herbivores eat plants only. Some of these animals are frugivores because their principal diet comprises a variety of fruits.

The digestive systems of these animals are unable to digest meat due to a lack of protein-digesting enzymes. These animals eat a high fibrous diet and are able to break down complex cellulose into simple glucose. They have developed a number of adaptations in their body, which include their teeth, eyes, and ears. Their eyes are located on the sides of their head, which helps them to perceive a broader vision of the grazing fields. They have large ears, which allow them to capture low-volume noises and escape from predators.

The dentition pattern of these animals is unique, with broader molars and premolars that help them to crush and grind their food and mix them properly with saliva, a process called mastication. Most of these animals lack sharp canines or incisors; exceptions include rabbits and beavers.

Herbivores are important animals who contribute a lot to the ecosystem. They are the primary consumers of the food chain and keep the check of excessive plant growth. Read on to learn about more than 20 examples of herbivores mentioned in this article.

Are you enjoying the read? Then don't forget to check out the invertebrates examples and the interesting plants here on Kidadl.

Some Examples Of Herbivores Consumers

There are more than 4,000 species of herbivores found in every continent that contribute a lot to the ecosystem. They eat only plant material, which includes tree bark, tree branches, seeds, nuts, grasses, roots, algae, fruits, and all other types of foliage. Based on their diet, herbivores can be classified into four categories- frugivores, granivores, nectivores or nectar feeders, and folivores.

The koalas, native to Australia, inhabit the eucalyptus forests only. They are able to digest leaves of gummy eucalyptus trees, which no other animal can eat. However, they are only capable of absorbing 20% of their diet and require to sleep for a minimum of 18 hours a day.

The elephants, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus are the three largest land animals, all of which feed on plant materials. The elephants eat about 100-200 lb (45.3-91 kg) of plant material in order to keep their huge body working. The hippos eat grasses and remain submerged in water to remain cool in the scorching heat. Rhinos, native to Africa and Asia, also require a large amount of food to fuel their gigantic body, and their primary food source is plants and the different plant parts.

The giant pandas are avid leaf eaters. However, their diet sometimes consists of eggs and occasionally meat, and hence they are not fully herbivores and can be considered vertebrate omnivores.

The maximum amount of digestion takes place in the cecum of the large intestine in rabbits. Thus, their cecum is 10 times larger than their stomachs, and they eat only plants, leafy weeds, grasses, and carrots. Their long ears help them to hear the predators easily and maintain thermoregulation.

Mule deer, termites, giraffes, horses, kangaroos, cows, goats, zebra, sloths, and beavers are some examples of herbivores that completely rely on plant material.

Several bird species also eat non-animal food. The Canada geese, sparrows, finches, and many other species, are seed eaters. Many birds of the tropical rainforests also prey on small insects during their breeding season in order to gain extra protein from their diet.

The butterflies and bees rely on plants for their food, and they are the nectar feeders that help in pollination as well.

Some Examples Of Herbivores In A Food Chain

All herbivores play a crucial role in the food chain. Some of the popular examples of herbivores in a food chain are mentioned here.

Deer, zebra, giraffes, and horses are primary consumers, and their diet consists of plants only. These animals, in turn, are preyed on by the secondary consumers, which are the carnivores; for example, the tiger, hyena, and lion eat the meat of these plant consumers primarily. They are again hunted down by vultures, which are considered tertiary consumers.

Rodents, like mice, are eaten by wild cats, which are further preyed on by foxes and wolves. Another broad-spectrum food chain example includes butterflies (primary consumers) which feed on the nectar of flowers, in turn, are preyed on by frogs (secondary consumer).

Frogs are eaten by snakes (tertiary consumers), who are again preyed on by eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey (quaternary consumers). Quaternary consumers are regarded as the top predators of the ecosystem, who prey on tertiary consumers.

Herbivores are primary consumers and play an important part in the ecosystem.

Role Of Herbivores In Food Chain

Herbivores are important animals who contribute a lot to the ecosystem. They are preyed on by secondary consumers.

The primary consumers feed on plant and plant material only and ensure that overgrowth of vegetation does not take place. The relationship between plants and herbivores is cyclic, which suggests that more plants will result in more herbivores. This increase in herbivore animals will, in turn, cause the plants to decrease in number, and this cycle continues in a sequential manner.

Herbivores also help in pollination and disperse seeds of a wide range of plants to several places. About 10% of energy flows from one trophic level to another and is brought out by the primary consumers. They serve as food to carnivores and omnivores. Omnivores are animals that consume both plant material and meat, one such example is the baboon.

Humans rely on both plant and animal sources. Cattle, goats, fowls, and sheep are the most important animals for livestock, from which we get both milk and meat. About 16% of the global protein consumption comes from domestic herbivores. Other big herbivores, like ox, bull, donkeys, llamas, and camels, are utilized in agriculture.

How do herbivores make their food?

Animals are unable to prepare their own food, unlike plants. Herbivores rely on plants as their source of energy.

These animals have complex digestive systems that help them to break down cellulose into simple sugar. Plant cell walls are made up of cellulose, which is not digested by animals easily. Herbivores, therefore, contain a large number of symbiotic bacteria, like Rumenococcus, which help them to digest this cellulose.

The digestive system of the herbivores comprises four chambers or compartments in their stomach- rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The first three compartments are associated with the digestion of the plant fibers with the help of symbiotic bacteria. True digestion takes place in the fourth compartment, that is, the abomasum. This chamber contains gastric enzymes, like pepsin and lipase, and hydrochloric acid, which breaks down the complex food into simpler nutrients.

Another interesting fact associated with it is that the abomasum digests the organisms present in the semi-digested bolus from the three chambers. In this way, the herbivores are able to absorb animal protein from the bacteria. The intestines absorb water and nutrients that are broken down by the stomach. More than 50% of the nutrients are expelled out from their body without getting absorbed.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what are examples of herbivores? curious food chain facts for kids, then why not take a look at what do bees eat? buzzing cool facts on honey bees revealed for kids, or what animals sweat? never heard facts on sweat glands for kids!

Written By
Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Rajnandini is an art lover and enthusiastically likes to spread her knowledge. With a Master of Arts in English, she has worked as a private tutor and, in the past few years, has moved into content writing for companies such as Writer's Zone. Trilingual Rajnandini has also published work in a supplement for 'The Telegraph', and had her poetry shortlisted in Poems4Peace, an international project. Outside work, her interests include music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading. She is fond of classic British literature.

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