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Carnivores Animals – Introduction, Types, Importance, Examples

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  • Last Updated : 27 Jun, 2022

The ecosystem is the area where living beings and nonliving beings interact with each other. They consist of abiotic and biotic components. Abiotic components are the nonliving beings, and biotic components are living beings.  Biotic components are categorized into autotrophs, heterotrophs, and decomposers. 

  • Autotrophs are producers that produce food. Example: Plants
  • Heterotrophs are consumers that depend on other organisms for food. They can be further classified into primary consumers, secondary consumers, and tertiary consumers.
  • Decomposers feed on dead organic matter. They help in recycling as they decompose the decayed organic matter.

Carnivores

Food chain

 

Carnivores are heterotrophs that eat the meat or flesh of other animals. They belong to the class of secondary consumers. There are some carnivores that hunt other animals known as prey. They have long and sharp teeth so that they can tear the flesh easily.  They also have good eyesight so that they can target their prey easily. Some have good swimming capabilities with a thin, flexible bodies. There are different types of Carnivores:

  • Land Carnivores: Carnivores that live on land. They can hunt both on the land and on water. They can hunt flying creatures as well. Furthermore, they have flexible bodies and strong legs so that they can run miles after miles for their prey. Example: Tigers, Cheetah, Dogs, cats, etc.
  • Aquatic Carnivores: Carnivores that live in water. Some carnivores have the capability to hunt on land. They have excessive sharp teeth, so tearing of flesh becomes easy. Most of the teeth are jagged or serrated. Example: Whales, Piranhas, etc.
  • Flying carnivores: Carnivores can fly as well. They have very good sight, so they can target their prey from a large distance. Example: Hawk owl, Eagle, etc. Some of them are avivores. It means they target other birds as their prey, as their diet consists of Birds only. Example: Eagle 
  • Insectivores: The animals or plants which feed on insects. They are mostly small or medium-sized animals with sharp teeth so that they can cut insects easily. Example: moles. Some plants are insectivores. They are also called carnivorous plants. These plants eat small insects and other small animals. For example, pitcher plant.

Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous plants are known as insectivorous plants. They feed on small animals and other insects by means of traps. They use a trapping mechanism in which they keep a modified leaf to attract insects. On the leaf, there is a sticky thing so that once an insect walks on the leaf, it gets caught in the sticky substance. After that, they use rapid leaf movements to actively capture the insects. The enzymes and other bacteria help in the digestion of the food. They also generate some of their energy from photosynthesis. Example: Venus Flytrap, Pitcher plant, etc.

Carnivores as part of the food web

In an ecosystem, there is a concept of a Food chain. A food chain shows how the energy is transferred from one organism to another, and the food web comprises the food chain in a single ecosystem.  They are at the third trophic level of the food web. They rely on other carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores. In the food chain, only 10% of energy is transferred to the next level. So carnivores are present at the third level of the food chain, and they receive very less energy. But it is important that the population of autotrophs, consumers, and decomposers is maintained. For instance, if carnivores become extinct the population of herbivores will increase and the producers might get extinct as well due to excessive consumption. They help to keep ecosystems balanced.

Save the Carnivores

Many carnivorous animals are endangered, and some have become extinct due to excessive hunting by humans. They are mostly hunted for their fur, and teeth. Also, habitat loss and extinction of prey have also caused an imbalance in the carnivore’s population. To save them, some rules have been set up:

  • Many Governments have started to take measures to save the animals. 
  • Hunting has been banned in several countries like India. Reserve parks have been set up so as to conserve endangered species.
  •  Protected Areas such as National Parks, Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves, and Community Reserves have been set up in India under the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. Wildlife Protection Act aims to provide better protection to wildlife, including threatened species and their habitat.

Conceptual Questions

Question 1: Carnivorous birds do not have teeth, yet feed on rats. How is it possible?

Answer:

 Birds do not have teeth. They rely on their strong beaks. They have strong hooked beaks. Some have spear-shaped beaks so that they can catch fish easily. 

Question 2: Are shark’s teeth capable of crushing and grinding hard shells?

Answer: 

Shark’s teeth are usually jagged. The teeth are capable of slicing, grinding, and crushing. Some sharks feed on oysters, and they use their teeth to crush the hard calcium shell. Sharks’ teeth grow even if they break.

Question 3: Who is the largest land carnivore. Explain their qualities.

Answer:  

Polar bears are the largest land carnivores. They exclusively feed on meat, as they eat seals. They have a thick layer of fur that helps them to survive in the coldest conditions.

Question 4: What type of teeth is present in carnivores?

Answer: 

The teeth are mostly sharp in carnivores. It mostly comprises incisors and canines. A canine teeth can be easily identified, as they are a longer, pointed teeth.

Question 5: How venus flies traps digest insects?

Answer: 

Venus fly traps are carnivorous plants that feed on insects. These plants catch them very fast and move very slowly. They have special enzymes that are not present in ordinary plants. These enzymes help in the digestion of such insects.

Question 6: What is the meaning of carnivores and how many species are there?

Answer: 

Carnivores are derived from the Latin word Carnivora. It means flesh-eating animals, There are approximately more than 270 species of carnivores, and they include mammals, reptiles, fish, etc.

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