Usually, we think that carnivores eat meat and herbivores eat plants, but can carnivores eat plants? This is not a new question. It remains part of many wild professional discussions from the last decade, and if you are also finding the answer to the query, you are at the right place.
Carnivores are primarily meat-eaters, but as a result of the main question, many types of research held by professionals conclude that carnivores get the nutrients for their body requirements mainly from meat. Still, some carnivores like mesocarnivores (coyote, red fox) and hypocarnivores (bears) can eat plants while coming in carnivore order.
After this quick reply, I want to share all my knowledge with my audience. So, you must read the entire post to get a satisfying answer. Come on.
Table of Contents
Do Carnivores Only Eat Meat?
Carnivore is the 5th biggest order of mammals, containing almost 300 species. The word “carni” means meat, a Latin word. So, most animals in the carnivore order eat meat to fulfill their body requirements. Further, the majority of carnivore animals are predators. Most predators have their pride to feed and need a high amount of energy individually to survive, so how can they go for plants compared to hunting an animal?
Some carnivores’ sub-categories (mesocarnivores and hypocarnivores) can eat plants. They do not entirely depend on meat; rather than lions or tigers with pointed teeth and smaller intestines, these carnivores(mesocarnivores and hypocarnivores) have wide jaws and longer intestines. These adaptations allow them to eat plants.
Carnivores have a wide range of eating behaviors (given below) that depend on their environment.
Some carnivores are insectivores because they eat insects, bugs and small animals to fulfill their energy requirements.
Some carnivores like alligators, sharks and bears are also man-eaters. They can kill and eat humans when possible, but these cases are rare.
Piscivores, animals eat fish mainly. Sea lions are a form of this kind of carnivore.
The animals can eat their species of animals; even their child are cannibals. This is not shocking for animal lovers because they know that animals do all possible things to ensure their survival. Some mammals also eat their species member to do so. Bears and chimpanzees are the main examples who eat their own adults.
Big cats like lions or tigers are the main animals that come to our minds when we talk or think about carnivores. It is because they can easily hunt their prey and eat its meat.
Some other carnivore types cannot hunt their prey, or they don’t want to do so. Raccoons, vultures and humans are among those carnivores. They eat the flesh of animals who died by natural death or whose flesh is left by other predators.
Types Of Carnivores
Carnivores eat meat, but all carnivores don’t just eat meat. Some carnivores also eat plants matter. So, considering their eating behaviors, experts divided carnivores into sub-categories. They did that by analyzing their food intake percentage.
This is the main sub-category of carnivores. These carnivore animals eat meat as more than 70% of their food intake. Some hypercarnivores include lions, tigers, great white sharks, eagles, owls, and leopards.
These carnivores intake meat from 50 to 70 percent of their food. Foxes, otters, coyotes, and bobcats are among the mesocarnivores animals. They have flexible diet patterns and can eat plant materials such as fruit and berries compared to hypercarnivores. They may consume a wider range of foods, including both animal and plant material.
These animals intake meat in a small portion (lower than 30 %) of their diet. They have adaptations for eating plants, such as broad, flat molars and a longer digestive tract. Bears and some primates are included in the animals of this sub-category.
There is a delicate difference between hypocarnivores and omnivores. So, sometimes people also refer to them as omnivores. Moreover, this classification needs to be considered better.
Why Do The Majority Of Carnivores Eat Meat?
We all know well that carnivores eat meat, but why do they do this? Big carnivores such as lions and tigers will not eat plants at any cost, even if they die of hunger. So, what is the reason they do this?
The main and basic reason for this behavior is that mother nature predesigned them in this way. They have pointed teeth that help them to hunt and tear their prey into pieces. With these teeth, they can not eat plant material.
Further, they have small intestines and no suitable stomach enzymes (salivary amylase) responsible for breaking down plant materials. This enzyme helps animals to break down and digest carbs found in Plants’ material.
Another reason is that every predator animals require a huge amount of energy to ensure survival. Plants’ materials have no required amount of nutrients they need. On the other hand, meat provides them with all the essential nutrients (iron, vitamin B12).
Can Carnivores Digest Plants?
Hmm! normally, carnivores rely on meat. Their stomachs can digest meat and get necessary nutrients from it, but some carnivores, such as those who can eat plant material, can also digest it. Hypocarnivores and mesocarnivore can rely on plants when they face a meat shortage. They have adaptations like wide teeth, which help them to chew plant material properly and long intestine, which also help them to digest. Most carnivores also eat soft plant material such as fruit, berries, roots and nuts. Bears are the perfect example of these carnivores who can digest plants.
How Do Carnivores Get Glucose?
The carnivores eat plants and can get a reasonable amount of glucose, but what about others who rely on meat? These carnivores can produce glucose through the process of gluconeogenesis. In it, the liver and kidneys produce glucose from non-carbohydrate material.
Further, when they eat their prey, they also eat their stomachs which may contain plant matter such as fruits or herbs. Animal tissues also contain a reasonable amount of glucose. So, they can attain glucose by digesting these tissues, such as a lever.
In conclusion, primary carnivores are meat-eaters, but their sub-categories, like hypocarnivores and mesocarnivores, have plant adaptations. So, these carnivores can eat plants. On the other hand, the main carnivores (lions, tigers) can not eat them. Their stomachs will not accept them, which may lead them to severe conditions.
Do Carnivores Eat Plants To Survive?
The answer could be clearer. Some carnivores can survive without eating plants. Lions, tigers, and small cats are some of these carnivores. Despite this, some carnivores can eat the plant to ensure survival. Bears are those carnivores that can eat plants and also can eat meat.