Omnivores are a group of animals categorized according to the type of food that they eat. Food is considered as an essential basic need not only for humans but also for animals. There are three types of animals – carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores.

Although we can define carnivores as animal-eating animals, and herbivores as plant-eating animals, there is no specific omnivore definition. The attitude of being carnivore or herbivore develops naturally in the animals, but there could be many reasons behind a particular animal showing omnivores qualities.  Thus, there can be a generalized definition for omnivore, but we can’t call it a 100% accurate one.

Omnivore meaning

An omnivore animal is like a combination of carnivore and herbivore. The omnivore definition tells that the omnivores animals have both plants and animals in their diet. They can survive by hunting or scavenging other animals like carnivores, and can also survive on plants and herbs as herbivores do.

They acquire nutrition by feeding on other plants and animals. Some carnivores also show signs of herbivorous nature and vice versa. This makes it difficult to determine whether a particular animal is carnivorous, herbivorous, or omnivorous.

Omnivorous animals

When talking about omnivores animals, their survival rate is comparatively higher than that of the carnivores or herbivores, because omnivore animals can survive on both plants and animals.

So, they don’t face food scarcity, adapt their eating habits according to their surroundings and environmental changes. Thus, they are also called flexible eaters and have a flexible diet.

Some of the omnivore animals’ names show that they are also scavengers. It means these animals can also eat dead or decomposing bodies of other animals.

Examples of omnivores

Omnivorous animals make use of vegetation from the plants and the proteins from the animals, to create the energy required for their survival. There are some animals that show a carnivorous behaviour in one season, and herbivores in others, which in turn helps to identify them as omnivorous animals. For e.g. some species of pandas that eat plants or fruits in one season and hunt for small animals in other seasons when they can’t find many fruits.

Let’s have a look at some examples of omnivore animals.

1. Humans are the most significant examples of omnivorous animals. A majority of the animals from animal kingdom Mammalia (the mammals) are omnivorous in nature.

 Another mammal that eats both plants and animals according to the situation is a raccoon. They eat mice, fishes, frogs and insects in their animal diet, and fruits and vegetables as their plant diet.

2. Many aquatic animals and birds are also omnivores. That includes ducks, flamingos, swans, and some species of fishes.

3. Mammals like chipmunks, mice, pigs, rhinos, etc. are also omnivorous.

List of extended omnivores animals

Apart from the widely known common examples of omnivorous animals, there are also some extended omnivorous animals. They are called extended omnivorous because they are quite lesser-known, and more opportunistic types of animals. These are:

1. Chimpanzees

2. Piranha fishes

3. Hedgehogs

4. Earthworms

5. Squirrels

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is meant by omnivores?

The animals that can feed themselves on both the plants and other animals are called omnivores.

2. Can a carnivore be called an omnivore?

A carnivorous animal is one who eats other animals. So, it can’t be called an omnivore, except if they show some signs of opportunistic eating habits (opting to eat plants or herbs, if the animal diet is not available).

3. What are a few examples of omnivores?

Pigs, raccoons, chimpanzees, hedgehogs, some aquatic or amphibian animals, and obviously, humans are a few examples of omnivores.

4. Do omnivorous animals eat raw meat?

Yes, omnivorous animals can eat raw meat, but it is not the only source of their survival. They can eat plants as well.

5. Are domestic animals omnivores?

Yes, domestic animals like cats and dogs can be called omnivorous because we feed them both herbs or plants, and meat from other animals. Because they are tamed animals, they don’t have a ferocious nature, unlike the wild or stray animals.

6. Are bears omnivores?

Yes, a majority of the species found in bears are omnivorous. However, there are a few exceptions like the polar bear which is carnivorous, and the giant panda that is herbivorous.