• Written By Sagarika Swamy
  • Last Modified 25-01-2023

What do Animals Eat: Types, Classification, Examples


What do Animals Eat: Have you ever wondered how animals find food by walking from place to place? What types of food do animals eat in order to grow and survive? Do they solely consume plants or animals? Let us take a short look at all of the doubts we have. Animals cannot prepare their own food, while plants can. Plants and plant products, as well as other animals, are eaten or consumed in order to receive food that is stored in their bodies for later use.

Food consumers (or simply consumers) are creatures who solely consume (or eat) food produced by others. All animals, including humans, are consumers of food. Plants and other animals provide nourishment for animals. We will go through what animals consume in detail in this article. Continue reading to find out more!

What do Animals Eat: Overview

We all need food to survive, energy and growth. Plants are called the producers because they prepare their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Most animals depend on plants for their food. The animals which feed on plants are eaten by another organism for their survival, energy, and growth. Few organisms depend on both plants and animals for their food. Few animals feed on insects, blood, fruits, dead and decayed organisms.

Different Animals Feeding on Different Sources of Food

Fig: Different Animals Feeding on Different Sources of Food

Nutrition and its Types

Nutrition is a process of intake of nutrients (like carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and water) by an organism as well as the utilization of these nutrients by the organism is called nutrition. Below we have tabulated the types of nutrition and its definition:

Types of Nutrition                  Definition
Autotrophic NutritionAutotrophic nutrition is that mode of nutrition in which an organism makes (or synthesizes) its own food from simple inorganic materials with the help of sunlight. Organisms that make their own food are called autotrophs or producers. Green plants, algae, and some bacteria are examples of autotrophs.
Heterotrophic NutritionHeterotrophic nutrition is that mode of nutrition in which an organism cannot make (or synthesize) its own food from simple inorganic materials like carbon dioxide and water, and depends on other organisms for its food. A heterotrophic organism is a consumer which derives its nutrition from other organisms.

Learn About Digestion in Grass Eating Animals

Different Animals and their Food

Below we have provided information about different animals and their foods:

Names of AnimalsType of Food Consumed
CowGrass, leaves
TigerThe flesh of other animals
CrowGrains, seeds, insects
GoatGrass, leaves
SnakesFrogs, rodents, insects

Classifications of Animals Based on What do Animals Eat

As per the above table, there are only a few animals that feed on plant products, while others feed on the flesh of other creatures, and there are even fewer that feed on both. As a result of their eating habits, the animals are divided into different categories. Herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores are the three main categories.

1. Herbivores: The animals which depend on plants and plant products for their food or survival are called herbivores. They are also called plant-eaters/ animals that eat vegetables. The herbivores may eat grass, leaves, grains, fruits, or the bark of trees. Some examples of herbivores are goat, cow, buffalo, sheep, horse, deer, camel, ass, ox, elephant, giraffe, monkey, squirrel, rabbit, grasshopper, butterfly, parrot, hippopotamus, etc.


Fig: Herbivores

2. Carnivores: The animals which depend only on another animal for their food or survival are called carnivores. They are animals that eat other animals and they do not eat plant food at all. Carnivores eat only the meat (or flesh) of other animals; hence, they are called meat-eaters. Some examples of carnivores are lions, tigers, frogs, vultures, kingfishers, lizards, wolves, snakes, etc.


Fig: Carnivores

3. Omnivores: The animals which depend on both plants (plant products) and animals for their food or survival are called omnivores. Some of the examples of omnivores are the man (Human beings), crow, sparrow, bear, mynah, ant, etc. Man is called an omnivore because he eats plant food (such as grains, pulses, fruits, and vegetables) as well as the meat of animals (such as goat, chicken, and fish). Thus, omnivores are plant eaters as well as meat-eaters.


Fig: Omnivores

Teeth Pattern of Animals Based on their Food Habit

  1. Teeth Pattern of Herbivores: Herbivores have broad, flat molars (back teeth) with rough surfaces that are used for grinding up tough plant tissues. Many herbivores like squirrels and rabbits have chisel-like incisors in front teeth used for gnawing through wood or hard seeds.
  2. Teeth Pattern of Carnivores: Carnivores like lions, tigers and wolves have sharp and pointed long teeth for catching, ripping and tearing the flesh of other animals. The most important teeth for carnivores are their long, sharp canine teeth which are used to pierce and kill prey. Carnivore birds like eagles have hooked beaks and sharp claws for capturing and tearing.
  3. Teeth Pattern of Omnivores: They have broad, flat molars for grinding up various foods. The front teeth are wide, narrow at the tips, and somewhat chisel-shaped, making them useful for biting off chunks of meat or plant material.

Special Group of Animals Based on What do Animals Eat

1. Frugivores: A frugivore is an animal that mainly feeds on raw fruits or on juicy, tender, and tasty plant parts such as shoots, nuts, roots, and seeds. Frugivores are extremely dependent on the abundance and nutritional composition of fruits. Most of the frugivore animals help in seed dispersal for the plants.

For example, when a monkey consumes fruit and throws its seed, there is a chance of the seed germinating under proper environmental conditions. This way, the plant and the animals interact and remain connected.


Fig: Frugivores

2. Sanguivorous: The animals which feed on the blood of other living organisms are called sanguivorous. Example: Mosquitoes, bloodsucking spiders, vampire moths, leech, ticks, etc.


Fig: Sanguivores

3. Scavengers: There are certain animals that feed on the dead and decayed plants and animals. They are known as scavengers. They help to keep the environment clean by feeding on the dead and decayed matter. Example: Vultures, hyenas, etc.


Fig: Scavengers

4. Parasites: It is a special group of animals that live inside or on other animals for their food. The animal they live in is called the host. Examples: Tapeworm (lives in the human intestine), ticks (on the skin of dogs), Plasmodium (in human beings, carried by Anopheles mosquitoes).


Fig: Parasites


On the basis of what animals eat, the organisms are classified into various groups. Animals cannot prepare their own food; hence, they depend on readymade food. Directly or indirectly, animals are dependent on plants and plant products, since plants are the basic producers for all organisms in the environment.

There are majorly three types of animals based on their food habits- herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. They have different teeth patterns to nibble, tear and chew the food. Apart from the plant-eaters and meat-eaters, there are specially classified animals that feed on blood, dead and decayed organisms, insects, fruits, etc.

Study About Food From Animals

FAQs on What do Animals Eat

Q.1: Which animal eats other animals?
Ans: Carnivores eat other animals. They are also called meat-eaters.

Q.2: Do animals need to move to get their food?
Ans: Yes, most of the animals move from one place to another place in search of food. Few animals move faster to save themselves by being eaten by other animals.

Q.3: Who eats plants and animals?
Ans: Omnivores are animals that feed both on plants and animals.

Q.4: Why do animals eat?
Ans: Animals eat food to survive and grow. All are dependent on each other for food. Some feed on plants, some feed on only animals, and a few animals eat both plants and animals.

Q.5: What do most animals feed on?
Ans: Different types of animals feed on different sources of food. Few animals depend only on plants called herbivores. The animals that eat only the flesh of other animals are called carnivores, and the animals that feed on both plants and animals are called omnivores.

Q.6: Explain the teeth pattern of Omnivores animals.
Omnivores have broad, flat molars for grinding up several foods. Their front teeth are wide, narrow at the tips which makes it easier for them to chew chunks of meat or plant material.

Q.7: Explain the teeth pattern of Herbivores animals.
Herbivores have broad, flat molars with rough surfaces. These rough surfaces are used for grinding up rigid plant tissues.

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