Dung beetles are found around the world in many habitats, ranging from grasslands to forests. They can even be found in some desert areas, although they prefer temperatures that are not overly hot or cold. Various species of dung beetles inhabit every continent except for Antarctica.
Dung beetles are named for their diet as they feed on the excrement of other animals. Although they often prefer the feces of herbivorous mammals, they do eat the feces of carnivores as well. They are remarkably adept at finding fresh dung. In one observational study, more than 4,000 dung beetles arrived on a fresh pile of elephant feces within 15 minutes. For dung beetles, feces are more than just food. Once they have rolled the dung into balls, they often stand on the balls to cool their feet off after walking across hot earth. Feces provide all of the water that dung beetles need, so they do not need to drink.
Dung beetles come in many varieties, but most are black in color and have round bodies with short legs. Fossil evidence suggests that dung beetles have been around for at least 30 million years. Early dung beetles are through to have fed on feces from the large armadillos and sloths in South America.