We explain what carnivorous animals are and how they are classified. In addition, its general characteristics, how is its structure and more.

What are carnivorous animals?

Carnivores are all animals with organisms that require exclusive or primary consumption of meat to meet their energy and nutritional needs. Meaty foods can be obtained directly from hunting or predation, or through carrion or collection of decomposing remains.

Among carnivorous animals and organisms we can find mammals , birds , reptiles , cetaceans, fish , arachnids, insects and even plants . In all cases, these species have a set of special features that facilitate the consumption of meat, whether it is the presence of teeth prepared for this purpose or the existence of a digestive system that must also meet certain conditions.

The most important classification within carnivorous animals is determined by those organisms that subsist almost solely based on meat consumption and those that can obtain resources from other sources. A hypercarnivorous animal covers more than 70% of its diet with meat , while a hypocarnivore only covers 30%.

Specific organs of carnivores

All carnivorous animals have organs for capturing and dismembering their prey , as is the case, for example, in vertebrates with claws and teeth.

Location in the food chain of carnivores

Location in the food chain of carnivores

When feeding on other organisms, carnivores always occupy high levels within the food or food chain .

Classification of carnivores

It is structured from the type of organisms used to feed. We will find, for example , insectivorous carnivores (also called entomophages) , which feed on insects.

If we delve into the specialization we will find myrmecophagous carnivores , which consume ants and termites , among other typologies.

strict carnivores

strict carnivores

They are those that subsist only on the basis of meat , since even their body is not prepared to take advantage of other kinds of resources. For example, they can consume vegetables but they do not have the necessary elements for proper digestion.

They can also eat animal derivatives such as honey , but these products do not even minimally cover their nutritional needs.

digestive system of carnivores

They have a shorter digestive system. This is because carnivorous animals do not need to destroy the cellulose present in plants , a condition that leads herbivores and omnivores to require longer digestive systems.

scavenging carnivores

scavenging carnivores

Not all carnivorous animals obtain their prey from hunting, some consume carrion or the remains of dead and decomposing animals , such as vultures. They are called scavenging carnivores.

Flexible and occasional carnivores

  • Flexible carnivores. They generally eat meat, but are able to support small doses of vegetables.
  • Occasional carnivores. They are actually omnivorous organisms, but due to certain circumstances they must eat only meat for a specific period of time.

teeth of carnivores

teeth of carnivores

They need it to tear their prey , so many have teeth called canines, ideal for this purpose.

They also have upper and lower premolars on each side of the jaw.

rise of carnivores

The carnivorous species that are known today arose after the extinction of the dinosaurs , specifically in the Cenozoic period or Tertiary era, between 65 and 1.6 million years ago.

body structure of carnivores

body structure of carnivores

In addition to the contribution of the teeth, carnivorous animals have muscles and other structures that facilitate greater speed , agility or flexibility when hunting.

In other cases, they have heightened senses to find their prey, such as sight or smell.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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