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What is a Herbivore? List of Herbivores

A herbivore is an animal that gets its energy from eating plants.

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A herbivore is an animal that gets its energy from eating plants. Herbivores are primary consumers and can include mammals, reptiles, insects, and birds. All herbivores have unique physical features that adapted to feeding and digesting fibrous plant matter. Below is a list of some of the animals that are considered to be herbivores. 

Animals That Are Herbivores

African Buffalo

The African buffalo is one of the largest bovines in the world, inhabiting the savannah and mopane grasslands of central, west, east, and south Africa. African buffaloes are herbivorous and primarily feed on plants. Their main diet comprises of grass and herbs sometimes feeding on shrubs and trees when grass is scarce. The animal has flattened molars that help them to crush and chew fibrous plants that make its diet. They also have specific bacteria, fungi, and protozoa within their digestive system to help break down the cellulose in the plant matter.

Hoatzin

The hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin), commonly known as the stink bird, is a tropical bird inhabiting the swamps, mangrove, and riparian forests of the Amazon and Orinoco Delta in South America. The hoatzin is among the few bird species that are predominantly herbivorous. Its main diet comprises of 82% leaves and to a lesser degree, 10% flowers, and 8% fruits of plants found in the swampy and riverine habitats where they inhabit. The species has a digestive system similar to that of ruminants where it uses bacterial fermentation in the front part of the gut to break down the plants they consume. However, unlike ruminants with a rumen, hoatzins have a large crop, which folds in two chambers, and a large, multi-chambered lower esophagus.

Green Iguana

The green iguana, commonly known as the American iguana, is an arboreal lizard species native to Central, South America, and the Caribbean. Green iguanas are primarily herbivorous, usually feeding on the leaves of turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, flowers, fruits, wild plum, and growing shoots of different plant species. Their bodies have various adaptations that enable them to feed on plants such as their sharp leaf like broad teeth with serrations on the edges to allow them to shred leaves and shoots.

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects distinguished by their long antennae and strong hind limbs that enable them to escape danger. At high population densities promoted by environmental conditions, grasshoppers can change color and form large swarms which are often known as locusts. Grasshoppers are polyphagous herbivores feeding on multiple plant sources including cereals, pasture, and vegetables. Grasshoppers usually chew the food slightly and the salivary glands in the buccal cavity digest the carbohydrates before passing it to the crop for chemical digestion.

Role of Herbivores in the Food Chain

Herbivores play an important role in the food chain since they provide food for secondary consumers in the food web (carnivores). The ecosystem must always be in a position to provide enough food to sustain herbivores animals and continue with the processes of the food chain. The impact of herbivory is indispensable in the ecosystem as shown in the predator-prey theory, which is cyclic. The population of herbivores fluctuates around the carrying capacity of plants where an increase in plants increases the population of herbivores and a decline in plants reduces that population of the herbivores.

What is a Herbivore? List of Herbivores

RankAnimal NameAnimal Type
1African BuffaloMammal
2American BisonMammal
3AntsInsect
4BeaverMammal
5ButterfliesInsect
6CamelMammal
7CapybaraMammal
8CaribouMammal
9CaterpillarsInsect
10CattleMammal
11ChevrotainMammal
12ChinchillaMammal
13ChinkaraMammal
14DeerMammal
15DeerMammal
16DonkeyMammal
17DugongMammal
18ElkMammal
19European BisonMammal
20GazellesMammal
21Giant ElandMammal
22GiraffeMammal
23GoatsMammal
24GooseBird
25GrasshoppersInsect
26Green IguanaReptile
27Guinea pigMammal
28HaresMammal
29HippoMammal
30HoatzinBird
31HorseMammal
32KangaroosMammal
33KoalaMammal
34KoupreyMammal
35LeafhoppersInsect
36LlamaMammal
37ManateeMammal
38MiceMammal
39MooseMammal
40MothsInsect
41Mountain GoatMammal
42OctodontidsMammal
43OkapiMammal
44ParrotBird
45PikasMammal
46PlatypusMammal
47RabbitsMammal
48RhinoMammal
49SaolaMammal
50SheepMammal
51Solomon Islands SkinkReptile
52TamarawMammal
53TortoiseReptile
54TreehoppersInsect
55WisentMammal
56YakMammal
57ZebraMammal

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