What Is A Carnivore?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,080
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains what a carnivore is and shares some examples.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi! I am Emerald Robinson and in this What Is? video we will examine natures meat eaters carnivores. A carnivore is an organism that exclusively eats meat for its diet. Carnivores are heterotrophs, which means they cannot make their own food and need to get nutrition by eating other organisms. Carnivores occupy several different places in the food web. If a carnivore eats primary consumers that is; organisms that eat plants, the carnivore is called a Secondary Consumer. If they eat other carnivores, they are called Tertiary Consumers. Carnivores are classified into different categories based on the amount and kind of meat they consume. Organisms that eat mostly insects are called insectivores, while those that eat solely fish are termed piscivores. Obligate carnivores are animals that rely solely on meat for their nutrition. Cats of all sizes are obligate carnivores as are birds of prey and sharks. Carnivores have many adaptations that enable them to eat and digest meat. For example, many carnivores have sharp beaks, claws, and teeth that help them capture and tear into prey. Many carnivorous animals have large canine teeth and instead of molars, have carnassial teeth in the back of their jaws that slice rather than grind. Carnivores tend to tear and swallow large chunks of their meals whole, rather than chew them slowly like plant eaters. Carnivores have a relatively short and simple digestive system that easily breaks down protein, meets primary components. Most carnivores digestive systems lack the necessary biochemicals to break down cellulose, the major component of plant material. Although the majority of carnivores are animals, there are also carnivorous plants and fungi. Venus Fly Traps, Pitcher Plants, and Sundew are examples of carnivorous plants. Although these plants still use photosynthesis, they rely on captured insects, reptiles, amphibians and even small birds and mammals to help meet their nutrient requirements.