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Astronomy

 

CARNIVORES, HERBIVORES, OMNIVORES

There are three general types of food-eating animals in nature -- plant eaters, meat eaters, and animals that eat both plants and meat. Since this item refers to "food- eating animals," I wonder if there are any animals that do not eat food?

Maybe we should say that animals can be categorized by the types of food they eat. Animals that eat only meat are called "carnivores," animals that eat only plants are called herbivores," and animals that eat both meat and plants are called "omnivores." Humans fall into the third category.

If there were three bulletin boards in your classroom, you could use one each for the three main feeding categories, and place animal pictures on the appropriate boards.

I wonder how one would characterize pelicans? They eat only fish. Are they piscivores?

I wonder how you would categorize a person who only ate stuff from cans? Would that person be a cannibal? A person who does not eat meat is said to be a "vegetarian." Does that mean that a vegetarian is not omniverous like other people?

These feeding categories refer to the types of food that a particular type of animal can digest and assimilate. [To say that a body "a-SIM-ill-ates" food, means that the body uses that type of food for it's nourishment.]

Some people are, for whatever reason, unable to tolerate certain kinds of foods; some people have moral difficulties having to do with killing animals for food. These subjects will not be studied in this project.

How can one determine the type of food an animal eats? Are there ways to tell without asking somebody else or looking it up in the encyclopedia? Can you tell what kinds of stuff an animal eats by its' behavior? I hope not, because I kill flies, and I certainly don't eat them!

I think there is something about shapes and sizes of teeth. Maybe we could talk to a cow dentist and see what kinds of teeth are required for eating grass? Your dog has a lot of really big, sharp teeth. The biggest, most pointed teeth are called "canines," and we have canines also. I think canines are for killing and parting out animals. Generally, round, flat teeth are for veggies and long, sharp ones are for meat. We have some of each. Cave people didn't have steak knives and dinner forks, and probably had to tear their food with their teeth. Then, pushing it to the backs of their mouths, they could chew it with their molars. Otherwise, they would have all choked to death. Have you noticed that dogs don't chew hardly at all? The only times they chew at all seem to be when they need to make a large piece of meat small enough to swallow it whole. (Or if they want to ruin your best shoe!)

Chickens don't have many teeth. Like, none at all. They have beaks with which to pick up the things they like to eat. Chickens are omniverous, in a sense. They eat veggies, grains, seeds, insects (are they insectivores?), and each other, if they don't have enough other food. Birds have beaks that are suited to the stuff they eat. Long, curved, and slim beaks suck nectar out of long, curved flowers. Sometimes, birds use their feet to hold their food. They will stand on one end of a worm while they eat the other end. They stand on the worm because what's left of the worm might escape.

If you look at an animal's tools, you can tell what they eat. Just don't be checkin' out the shark's teeth. It would not be wise or safe to check a crocodile's teeth, either, just to find out what kinds of things it eats. For that matter, it probably is not a good idea to be checking any animals' teeth, unless you are observing a photograph.

How are snakes equipped for eating?

 

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