Meat Eating Animals – Carnivores

Image Credit: Flicke User Steve Wilson, via CC

Have you seen a tiger smacking its lips after devouring a deer? Carnivores are animals that want meat on their plate every single day! Many of you like to eat meat every day but that does not make you a carnivore. You are a ‘non-vegetarian’. The term carnivore is related to meat eating animals and not people. The word carnivore has a Latin root that means meat eating.

  Cara (meat) + Vorare (to devour) = Carnivore

Carnivores have to be very efficient hunter to be able to arrange for meat everyday. That is why, carnivores are extremely good predators. Their bodies adapt to prey. They usually have sharp teeth and claws and strong jaws. They have heightened sense of smell and hearing. Also, their fur helps them blend perfectly with the surroundings to hunt stealthily. Such a technique is called camouflaging. Carnivores have excellent speed and agility. The cheetah is the fastest land animal. It can achieve a speed of over 62mph. That is a whooping 100 km per hour! Do you know that the average speed of a car your parent drives is 48 km or 30 miles per hour? Look at the video of a cheetah hunting a gazelle.

A carnivore that has no other predator is called an apex predator. Apex predators sit at the top of the food chain. Crocodiles and tigers are apex predators.

There are some carnivores that do not hunt and eat. They feed on the dead animals that were either hunted by other carnivores or died on their own. Such carnivores are called Scavengers. Hyenas and raccoons are most popular scavengers.

While all carnivores are meat eating, they might not exclusively feed on the flesh. An Obligate carnivore also known as a “true” carnivore eats only animal meat for its sustenance. The digestive system of an obligate carnivore is incapable of absorbing any nutrients from organic matter. A hypercarnivore eats more than 70% meat, a mesocarnivore eats about 50-70% of meat, and a hypocarnivore eats less than 30%, rest of the diet being other organic matter.

Can you name all the various carnivores that:

Primarily eat fish?
Primarily eat insects?
Are the largest on Earth?
Are the smallest on Earth?



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