Difference Between Herbivores and Carnivores

NEET'22 Crash Course

Introduction

We live in an ecosystem or environment where every living organism depends on one another for food and nutrition. As we know that some plants and animals cannot prepare their food, so they depend on other plants and animals for food. Every animal has different kinds of food habits and nutrition requirements. Depending on the nutrition requirements and food habits, animals can be divided into two categories i.e. herbivores and carnivores. Though both of them belong to the Animal kingdom, still they have a lot of differences between them. So, here we will discuss in detail the difference between herbivores and carnivores.

 

Herbivores

Herbivores refer to those animals that feed on plants or plants products. They gain their nutrition from plants. The physical features of herbivores are different from those of carnivores. Herbivores have broad and flat teeth that help them to chew and smash the plant easily. 

 

Herbivores have special enzymes present in their saliva that can digest carbohydrates. They have a very long intestine and are capable of detoxifying Vitamin A in the liver. Herbivores generally require a lot of energy to stay active throughout the day. So, some animals like cows and sheep eat all day long.

 

Herbivores are of Different Types Such as

  • Frugivores: These animals mainly feed upon fruits or fruit-bearing plants.

  • Nectivores: These animals mostly eat nectar, for example- honeybee

  • Folivores: The animals that feed on leaves

  • Granivores: These animals consume only seeds.

  • Xylophages: They mostly feed on woods.

 

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Carnivores

Carnivores include those animals that eat the meat of other animals. The carnivores are very healthy and active. They have a robust body structure. Their jaws are built strong so that they can crush and smash bones. Unlike Herbivores, carnivores have a small intestine, and they do not possess any carbohydrate digestive enzyme. The carnivores are not capable of detoxifying Vitamin A. As herbivores have certain adaptations, the carnivores also have certain adaptations that help them catch their prey. The carnivores animals have long and sharp claws and sharp and strong teeth that help them to tear through the flesh of other animals. Some examples of carnivores animals are Lion, tigers, Wolf, etc.

 

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Difference Between Carnivorous and Herbivorous 

A lot of questions arise while studying the topic of Herbivores and Carnivores, and one of the most asked questions is what is the difference between herbivores and carnivores or differentiate between herbivores and carnivores. So, to clear the doubt of the students, we have listed some points of difference between herbivores and carnivores.

 

Carnivorous vs Herbivorous

Carnivore

Herbivore

Carnivores are those animals that consume only the meat of other animals.

Herbivores include those animals that depend on plants or plant products for their food and nutrition.

The carnivores possess long and sharp claws. They also have sharp and strong teeth that help them to tear through the flesh of other animals.

The herbivores have got broad and flat teeth that help them to grind and smash food such as leaves, seeds etc.


The carnivores animals do not have any kind of carbohydrate digestive enzyme.

The herbivores animals have a special kind of carbohydrate digestive enzyme in their saliva.

Unlike herbivores, carnivores have no such special ability to detoxify vitamin A.

The herbivores have a special ability to detoxify Vitamin A.

The carnivores have got reduced facial muscles.

The herbivores have complex facial muscles.

They have a small intestine as compared to herbivores, and it is 3-6 times their body length.

They have a very large intestine which is 10-12 times their body length. 

Their urine is extremely concentrated.

Their urine is moderately concentrated.

The ratio of their head to mouth is large.

The ratio of their head to mouth is comparatively smaller than carnivores.

Example: Wolf, Hyena, Tiger.

Example: Cow, Goat, Elephant.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What do you mean by omnivores?

Omnivores refer to those animals that depend on both plants as well as animals for their food. They can survive in both plant and animal matter. They derive nutrition from plants, plant products, and animals. Omnivores are considered the most flexible eaters of the animal kingdom. Omnivores can be of different sizes ranging from 1-2 millimetres to 3-4 meters in size. They often have long, sharp incisors to cut and tear the flesh. They also have flat molars to grind and crush the plant matter. Examples of some omnivores are humans, bears, Crow, dogs, Raccoons, etc.

2. Carnivores don't require vegetables, so why?

Carnivores' digestive systems are shorter than herbivores' and omnivores' (ex. Humans). Because their small intestine is shorter, food goes through the digestive system more swiftly. Plant material takes longer to digest and requires a longer digestive system to allow for the breakdown and re-absorption of nutrients since plant cell walls are primarily made of cellulose, which higher animal digestive enzymes cannot digest or disrupt. Even the nutritional contents of plant cells are not fully available for digestion as a result of this.

3. Are herbivores capable of becoming carnivores?

Yes, in that case. If a herbivorous species are unable to find food, it is possible that it will gradually shift to an omnivorous diet, and finally to full-fledged carnivorous behaviour. However, this evolution may run across several roadblocks, some of which could be fatal to the species.

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