Definition, Characteristics, and Examples of Carnivorous Animals (Meat Eaters)

Definition, Characteristics, and Examples of Carnivorous Animals (Meat Eaters) – Every animal must consume food according to the nutrition required to survive. Based on the type of food, animals can be divided into four types, namely herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, and insectivores. All four have their own role in the food chain.

Herbivores are animals that eat plants, while carnivores are animals that eat meat. Omnivores are animals that eat plants and meat, while insectivores are animals that eat insects.

This time we will cover things related to carnivorous animals and their examples. So, keep following this Reader review. Always activate your Sinaumedia Digital application, so as not to miss other exciting information.

Definition of Carnivorous Animals

Carnivores are meat-eating animals. Animals that are classified as carnivores because they prey on other animals. This type of animal is also called a predator.

Kira Seta (2018) in his book titled Getting to Know Herbivorous, Carnivorous, and Omnivorous Animals explains that the word carnivore comes from Latin, namely carne which means “meat” and vorare which means “to eat”.

Meanwhile, Ullrey (2004) in Mammals: Carnivores (Encyclopedia of Animal Science) defines a carnivore, meat eater, or satwaboga as a living creature that obtains the energy and nutrition it needs from food in the form of animal tissue, both as a predator and scavenger. Animals that only depend on animal meat for nutrition are called obligate carnivores, while carnivore animals that also consume non-animal food are called facultative carnivores.

Because their food source is meat, it is not uncommon for carnivorous animals to be nicknamed as predators. What is evil? Of course not. This is an important aspect of its role as an ecosystem balancer that prevents animal populations.

Carnivores are at the top of the food chain. However, not only animals, it turns out that there are also plants that catch insects and other small animals. This type of plant is called a carnivorous plant. Some fungi also eat microscopic animals and are called carnivorous fungi.


Classification of Carnivores

The word “carnivore” often refers to one of the orders of mammals, namely the order Carnivora. This gives a wrong understanding because many Carnivores meet the definition of meat eaters, although not all carnivores are like that, in fact only a few carnivores are really considered obligate carnivores. Additionally, many carnivore species are not included in the order Carnivora.

For example, most bear species are actually omnivores, except for pandas which are herbivores. One of the animals that really only eats meat is the polar bear that lives in the Arctic. This is because in this place only a few plants can live.

Carnivores that only eat insects and other similar invertebrates are called insectivores, while carnivores that only eat fish are called piskivors. Carnivores can also be classified based on the percentage of meat in their food, namely obligate carnivores, hypercarnivores, and mesocarnivores.

1. Obligate Carnivore

Obligate carnivores or true carnivores are groups of carnivorous animals that only depend on nutrition derived from the flesh of other animals to survive. Obligate carnivores do not have an adequate digestive system to process plant matter. The bodies of obligate carnivores cannot digest plants well.

If these animals eat it, it is as if it just passes through the process of emesis or vomiting, that is to forcefully remove the contents of the stomach through the mouth or nose, so that the plant cannot provide enough nutrition for obligate carnivores.

For example, cats need high protein and their metabolism cannot synthesize certain essential nutrients (including retinol, arginine, taurine, and arachidonic acid), so they only rely on animal meat to obtain these nutrients.

2. Hypercarnivores

Hypercarnivores are a group of carnivorous animals whose 70% food source is meat. Animals that become hypercarnivores usually cannot digest plants. This is why most of their food is meat. The physical character of this animal is having a strong skull and facial muscles, which function to hold prey, cut meat, and break bones.

3. Mesocarnivores

Mescocarnivores are a group of carnivorous animals whose 50% food source is meat. Why only 50%? Then, what else is left? In addition to meat, this type of animal can eat fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. The physical character of this type of carnivore is usually smaller than that of hypercarnivores. This type of animal usually lives in an environment close to humans.

4. Hypocarnivores

Hypocarnivores are a group of carnivorous animals whose meat needs are only around 30% of all types of food. This type of carnivore can eat meat, but the majority of its food is fish, fruits, roots, and nuts. Animals that enter this group are usually equated with animals that enter the omnivorous group.

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Characteristics and Characteristics of Carnivores

Characteristics commonly associated with carnivores are the organs for grasping and tearing prey apart (the majority of vertebrates’ teeth and claws fulfill this function) and their predatory status. This assumption is incorrect because some carnivores do not hunt and are scavengers, although most hunter carnivores also eat carrion whenever the opportunity arises. This is why scavenger carnivores do not have the same characteristics as hunter carnivores.

Carnivores have short digestive systems because they do not have to break down the cellulose found in plants. Many animals that hunt other animals have evolved eyes, so they face forward, which allows for depth perception. This occurs almost universally in mammalian predators. Other predators such as crocodiles have side-facing eyes and hunt by ambush rather than chase.

Common characteristics of carnivorous animals include:

  • The majority live in forests or savannas;
  • The majority of carnivores are mammals that have mammary glands;
  • Have sharp nails or claws that function to grip their prey;
  • Has a fast running speed in chasing and hunting prey;
  • Has poison that can weaken its prey;
  • Have sharp eyesight both day and night;
  • Has a very sensitive sense of hearing and smell;
  • Has strong and sharp canine teeth to tear the body of its prey;
  • Have a spine;
  • Having the ability to attack and disable victims quickly;
  • It has a single stomach with a shorter digestive tract.

In the food chain, carnivores occupy the highest trophic level or are also known as top consumers or consumer III.

Examples of Mammal Group Carnivores

Mammals are vertebrates which have the main characteristic of mammary glands. To date, more than 5,000 genera of mammals have been identified, spread across 425 families and 46 orders.

The word  mammal  comes from the Latin word  mamma  which means “nipple”. Mammals reproduce by giving birth (viviparous) and laying eggs (oviparous). Some mammals are classified as carnivores because they eat other animals. Some of the front teeth of carnivorous mammals have adapted to form  carnassial , namely teeth that work like scissors that can cut meat.

The examples of carnivore animals in the mammal group are explained as follows.

1. Polar Bear

The polar bear or ice bear has the scientific name  Ursus maritimeus . This animal is a large mammal in the biological family genus  Ursidae  and is a  circumpolar species  found around the Arctic. Polar bears are sometimes also classified as marine mammals.

Male polar bears weigh between 400–600 kilograms and can sometimes reach over 800 kilograms and reach over 2.5 meters in height. Female polar bears on the other hand are only half the weight of male bears weighing between 200–300 kilograms and about 2 meters tall. Polar bears have a very keen sense of smell. They can smell a dead whale or seal from 20 miles away.

Polar bears are good swimmers, able to swim 60 miles without stopping. They use their forelegs for swimming and hind limbs for rudder. The oil glands in their skin lubricate their fur well, so their body is water resistant and stays dry while swimming.


The main diet of polar bears is fish and seals. They are patient animals when hunting and waiting for their prey (seals), who are diving for hours until the target jumps to land and is then immediately pounced on. The paralyzing power of its prey resides in its sharp claws and the powerful thrashing of its forelegs.

An adult polar bear needs 2 kilograms of fat per day to survive in cold temperatures. A seal weighing 55 kilograms can meet the food requirements for a polar bear to survive for 8 days.

2. Lion

Lion is a species of animal from the family felidae or cat type. There are many lions in the African continent and some in the Indian region. Lions are animals that live in groups, usually consisting of one male and many females. This group guards its territory.

Lions live between 10 and 15 years in the wild, but in captivity can reach more than 20 years. The younger lion will usurp leadership from the older lion.

Female lions are much more active in hunting, while male lions are more relaxed waiting and asking for rations from the prey of their females. Male lions are believed to be superior and powerful compared to other big cats, but the lion’s weakness is that it cannot climb trees like other big cats.

Male lions have thick fur around the back of their necks to protect them in free fights. Other big cats, such as leopards and leopards, have much smaller body sizes than lions. Despite being from the same family as tigers, lions do not like water. It’s different with a tiger that likes water.

3. Tiger

The tiger is the largest living cat species of the genus Panthera . Tigers have distinctive stripes on their fur, in the form of dark vertical stripes on orange fur, with the lower part of the fur being white. Tigers are apex predators, mainly preying on ungulates such as deer and wild boar.

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Tigers are generally solitary, solitary predators, but still have a social side. They still stay in nearby areas to support their food needs and raise their offspring. Tiger cubs stay with their mother for about two years, then will live independently and leave their mother’s range to build their own homes.

Tigers were first scientifically described in 1758 and were once widespread from the Eastern Anatolia region in the west to the Amur River valley in the east. Tigers are also found in the southern foothills of the Himalayas up to Bali in the Sunda Islands. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the tiger population has continued to decline to 93% and experienced extinction in West Asia, Central Asia, as well as on the islands of Java and Bali.

Tigers are also declared extinct in most regions of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and China. Today, the tiger’s range stretches from the temperate forests of Siberia to the subtropical and tropical forests of the Indian subcontinent, Indochina, and Sumatra.

Examples of Carnivorous Animals Reptile Group

Reptiles are vertebrates that are cold-blooded and their bodies are covered with scales. The majority of reptile species reproduce oviparously (eggs), but some also viviparously (give birth). Reptiles are tetrapods (animals with four legs) and lay eggs whose embryos are enveloped by an amniotic membrane.

Examples of carnivorous animals of the reptile group are snakes and komodo dragons.

1. Snake

Snakes are a group of legless and long-bodied reptiles that are widespread in the world. Scientifically, all types of snakes are grouped in one sub-order, namely Serpentes and are also members of the order Squamata (scaly reptiles) along with lizards. However, snakes ( Serpentes ) themselves are classified in the Ophidia branch (clade), which is a group of reptiles with or without legs, long bodies, and having a physiology that is very different from lizards.

Snakes are one of the most successful reptiles in the world. They can be found in all types of habitats, namely forests, grasslands, deserts, rivers, lakes, highlands, plantations, rice paddies, seas, and also in human settlements. However, like other reptiles, snakes cannot be found in cold areas such as on mountain tops and in the Arctic Circle (some species are able to live in areas near the North Pole). Snakes are also not found in Ireland, New Zealand, Greenland, isolated islands in the Pacific such as Hawaii, as well as in the Atlantic Ocean.

Most snakes live and live on the ground, while others live and live on trees or plants. Even so, most species of snakes on the ground can climb trees. In addition to the ground and trees, snakes also live in water, there are even snakes that live in water and never travel on land at all, for example the snakes of the Hydrophiidae family .

Snakes prey on various types of animals smaller than their bodies. Tree snakes and land snakes prey on birds, mammals, frogs, other types of reptiles, including their eggs. Large snakes such as panca kembang can prey on goats, deer, deer, and even humans. Snakes that live in the waters prey on fish, frogs, tadpoles, and fish eggs.

Snakes eat their prey whole without waste and are capable of consuming prey three times larger than the diameter of their head. This is because their jaw is lower and can be separated from the upper jaw. Additionally, snakes have backward-facing teeth that hold their prey in their mouths. This prevents the victim from escaping.

2. Komodo dragon

Komodo or complete komodo lizard ( Varanus komodoensis ) is a species of large lizard found on Komodo Island, Rinca, Flores, Gili Motang, and Gili Dasami in East Nusa Tenggara Province. This lizard by the natives of Komodo island is also called by the local name “ora”. Another name for komodo is land crocodile, although komodo is not a species of crocodile.

Komodo is the largest species of the Varanidae family , as well as the largest lizard in the world, with an average length of 2-3 meters and a weight that can reach 100 kilograms. Komodo is the apex predator in its habitat because so far no other large carnivore other than this lizard is known to exist in any geographical area.

Well, Reader. That’s a brief story about carnivorous animals. It turns out that the way these animals survive is very unique. However, even though these carnivorous animals are mostly wild animals, we cannot hunt these animals so that the natural ecosystem remains sustainable.