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11.4: Carnivores

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  • Carnivorous animals like those in the cat and dog families, polar bears, seals, crocodiles and birds of prey catch and eat other animals. They often have to use large amounts of energy finding, stalking, catching and killing their prey. However, they are rewarded by the fact that meat provides a very concentrated source of nutrients. Carnivores in the wild therefore tend to eat distinct meals often with long and irregular intervals between them. Time after feeding is spent digesting and absorbing the food.

    The guts of carnivores are usually shorter and less complex than those of herbivores because meat is easier to digest than plant material. Carnivores usually have teeth that are specialised for dealing with flesh, gristle and bone. They have sleek bodies, strong, sharp claws and keen senses of smell, hearing and sight. They are also often cunning, alert and have an aggressive nature.


    • Ruth Lawson (Otago Polytechnic; Dunedin, New Zealand)