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Difference between Herbivores and Carnivores

There are many species on planet earth that either live on plants or one another. We have often seen certain small animals living on the trees or under the shrubs. Such animals feed on the roots of the trees or small plants. They live in the plants to sustain themselves. Squirrels, birds, snakes, etc., live in these natural surroundings. Then comes the species of animals, those who reside either on the flesh of dead animals or kill other animals to sustain themselves. Such animals generally feed on the ones who live in the natural surroundings and eat plants. So, today we will be discussing about these kinds of animal species, i.e., herbivores and carnivores. Let us begin by understanding the primary meaning of these terms.

Difference between Herbivores and Carnivores


Herbivores are defined as the species of animals who feed on the plants for their survival. Due to their habit of feeding on plants, their mouth is adapted to grinding. The word herbivore has been taken from the Modern Latin word 'Herbivora' meaning 'plant-eating animal.' There are two other origins of this word, like from French and Latin. The major advantage of herbivore species is that the food is easily available from the environment they live in. they can easily find a plant and eat it. But sometimes this turns out to be a disadvantage, as the plants they eat are sometimes difficult to digest. Sometimes animals become easy to digest than plants. Herbivores only feed on plants. The herbivorous animals can be large-sized, medium-sized, or small-sized. The large-sized animals include buffalo, cows, etc.

The medium-sized animals include goats and sheep, who feed on natural vegetation. The small-sized animals include rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, etc. Well, it is interesting to note that humans are anatomically herbivores, yet they are listed as omnivores.


The animal species that feed on the meat/ flesh of other animals are called carnivores. They are also called as predators. They derive nutrition from the animal tissue. The common characteristics of carnivores are that they possess speed, strength, and the ability to hunt. The carnivorous animals have small digestive systems as animals are easily digested by them. Reptiles, amphibians, and mammals possess such digestive systems. Their hunting is quite precise, and they have an in-depth perception through which they can attack suddenly, resulting in the death of their prey. Carnivores are one of the important parts of the food chain. The word carnivore has been derived from the Latin word 'carni' and 'vorare,' meaning 'meat/ flesh' and 'devour.' Carnivores basically mean a meat-eater. Some of the dangerous carnivorous animals include hawks, mountain lions, wolves, eagles, red fox, bobcats, etc. Such animals are not found in plains or sanctuaries. They are found in the mountain regions. Now, let us discuss the major contrasting points between herbivores and carnivores.

1. Herbivores are defined as animals who feed on grass and other plant material for their survival. Carnivores are defined as the animals that feed on animal meat/ flesh for their sustenance.
2. Plants sometimes become challenging to digest by herbivores. On the other hand, the flesh is always easy to digest as compared to plants.
3. The herbivorous animals have grinding teeth and flat mouths because of eating plants and shrubs. The carnivorous animals have sharp teeth and claws, which helps them in tearing their prey.
4. Carbohydrate digestive enzyme is present in plant-eating animals. Carnivores do not possess such kind of enzyme in their saliva.
5. Herbivores can easily detoxify Vitamin A. Carnivores do not possess such an ability of detoxification.
6. The facial muscles are complex in herbivores. There are very few facial muscles in carnivores.
7. The large intestine in herbivores is 10-12 times big than the length of their body. The intestines of the carnivores are relatively small.
8. The urine is not much concentrated in herbivores. The urine is highly concentrated in carnivores.
9. Their head and mouth are very small except in cows and buffalos. Their head and mouth are large, unlike herbivores.
10. Examples:
  • Deer
  • Cow
  • Buffalo
  • Squirrel
  • Sheep
  • Goat
  • Elephant
  • Lion
  • Tiger
  • Red Fox
  • Eagle
  • Wolf
  • Hyena
  • Hawk

So, these are some of the contrasting points between herbivores and carnivores. Both herbivores and carnivores are essential parts of the food chain. Well, there are different types of herbivores and carnivores species. So, let us discuss them in detail.

Types of Herbivores

  1. Nectivores: The animals that live on the nectar of the plants, flowers, etc., are called nectivores. Examples of nectivores are honey-bee, butterflies, etc.
  2. Frugivores: The animals who sustain themselves on the fruits are called frugivores.
  3. Granivores: The animals that consume grains or seeds are called granivores.
  4. Xylophages: The animals that feed on the wood are called xylophages. Examples of xylophages include woodpeckers.
  5. Folivores: The animals that feed on the foliage or leaves are called folivores.

Types of Carnivores

There are two significant kinds of carnivores. They are.

  1. Caniformia: Caniformia species include dogs, foxes, seals, raccoons. Such species of carnivores are also called as 'dog-like carnivorans.'
  2. Femiformia: Femiformia species of carnivores are also called 'cat-like carnivorans.' Examples of these include hyenas, mongoose, house cats, tigers, etc.

So, these are the significant types of herbivores and carnivores. Both of them are essential for each other's survival. Moreover, they contribute a lot to flora and fauna of the earth. They help in maintaining the food chain. Thus, both herbivores and carnivores are important parts of nature.

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