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Herbivorous Animals: Name, List And Examples With Pictures

Herbivorous animals are those that consume plant matter as their main diet . They are also known as phytophages, and they feed on plants, herbs and algae, the fruit of trees, the nectar and pollen of flowers, and even the roots.

Herbivorous animals

What Are Herbivorous Animals?

There are millions of species that are classified as herbivorous animals. They range from large mammals, such as elephants and giraffes, to much smaller ones, such as hummingbirds or worms.

A defining characteristic of most herbivorous animals is a slow digestive system . To break down food well and obtain nutrients, these beings digest food for an extended time. Depending on the animal species, we can find creatures that have up to four different stomachs.

Within the food chain, herbivorous animals are classified as primary consumers , since they feed on producing beings. As they require a lot of plant matter to obtain the necessary daily energy, they tend to spend a lot of time eating. In turn, they fall prey to secondary consumers, which can be carnivorous or omnivorous beings.

Examples of herbivorous animals


Deer are mammals that eat leaves, grasses and some seeds. They usually have antlers that serve as defense, and generally have a slender body and long legs ending in hooves.

Examples of cervids are deer, elk, reindeer, fallow deer and roe deer.


Cattle are large herbivorous animals that usually have horns to defend themselves. In general, they graze fields for extended periods of time, and move in large groups.

Some species of bovines are cows, buffalo, zebu, wildebeest, bison and yak.


A characteristic that identifies sheep is the presence of wool. This material covers them and protects them from extreme temperatures, as it is useful as a thermal insulator.

Some sheep are sheep, rams and mouflons.


Equidae are a family of mammals whose legs end with a finger and a nail called a hoof. Some of the equids are quite fast, particularly some breeds of horses. This helps them reach great distances in a day and escape predators more easily.

Broadly speaking, equids are divided into horses, donkeys and zebras.

some birds

There are birds that feed on the nectar of flowers and small seeds. However, these animals can also eat worms and insects, depending on the time of year and the availability of nutrients.

Within this category we can find parakeets, hummingbirds, parrots and cockatoos.


Rodents have the peculiarity of feeding on wood. For them, they usually use sharper incisor teeth than other mammals, which allows them to cut and grind wood of all types.

Key examples of this type of herbivore are beavers, hamsters, squirrels, mice, chinchillas, guinea pigs and capybaras or capybaras.

herbivorous insects

There are quite a few species of insects that feed on the leaves of plants or the nectar and pollen of flowers. Some examples are butterflies, moths, bees, crickets and grasshoppers.

Other Herbivorous Animals Name

  • Elephants.
  • Giraffes.
  • Rabbits.
  • Kangaroos.
  • Snails.
  • Rhinos and hippos.
  • Tapirs.
  • Koalas.
  • Earthworms and slugs.
  • Camelids, such as dromedaries, camels, llamas, alpacas and vicuñas.
  • Some amphibians, such as certain species of salamanders and tadpoles.
  • Some reptiles, such as some species of turtles and iguanas.
  • Goats, such as ibex or domestic, Iberian and mountain goats.

Characteristics of herbivorous animals

  • Herbivorous mammals have thick molars that allow them to crush plant matter to facilitate digestion. This is a big difference from carnivorous mammals, which have sharp teeth.
  • Another difference between herbivorous and carnivorous mammals is the presence of hooves or hooves on the legs . These serve for comfortable movement and escape from predators.
  • The rest of the herbivorous animals have different types of appendages or structures adapted to their way of feeding. For example, hummingbirds have long beaks that allow them to suck nectar from flowers, and there are others with strong incisors, like beavers, with which they can cut wood.
  • Herbivorous animals have a slower digestion system , but capable of digesting all types of plant matter, including cellulose. In addition, these creatures need to eat a lot of vegetables to extract enough energy to survive during the day. That’s why they eat for a long time.
  • These animals are gregarious , that is, they usually go in groups both to feed and to move and rest.
  • In general, herbivorous animals have lateral eyes that help them identify predators from afar and flee before they reach them.

Another characteristic to take into account is that herbivorous animals have different ways of feeding:

  • Browsing : feeding based on eating leaves and shoots from branches, directly from trees and bushes.
  • Grazing : diet based on consuming grass and grass present in the fields and meadows.
  • Suction : feeding based on ingesting nectar or sap, extracted from organic plant tissues.
  • Boring : feeding based on drilling different parts of the plants, mainly the woody parts.

Types of herbivorous animals

Herbivorous animals can be classified by the type of plant food they consume:

  • Folivores : They feed on the leaves, grasses and stems of plants, like koalas, some monkeys and caterpillars.
  • Frugivores : are those who eat the fruits of plants. Some examples are gorillas, chimpanzees and squirrels.
  • Nectarivores : they feed on the nectar of flowers, like hummingbirds and hummingbirds.
  • Polynivores : they are those that feed on pollen and transport it. Two well-known examples are bees and butterflies.
  • Granivores : These animals consume seeds and grains, such as geese, parrots, and hamsters.
  • Xylophages : they are those that consume wood, like most arthropods, pandas and beavers.
  • Rhizophages : these are herbivorous animals that feed on roots, especially the larvae of many insects and several species of worms.
  • Mycophages or fungivores : they feed on fungi.

Another way to classify these animals is according to the type of digestive system they have. In this sense, there are:

  • Polygastric or ruminant herbivores : they have a long digestive system, made up of four different stomach cavities. Each cavity plays a fundamental role in the digestion of plant material, especially cellulose.
  • Monogastric herbivores : They have only one stomach, but they still have a good capacity to decompose plant matter.

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