What Do Carnivores Eat?

Carnivores are animals that are adapted to eating only meat. They are either predators that hunt and kill their own prey, or scavengers that search for already-dead flesh to consume. Carnivorous animals can be found on land, in water and in the air.

Because they must tear through flesh, carnivores typically have sharp, pointed teeth. They also often have claws that they can use to grip their prey or carrion. There are two main classes of carnivores: obligate carnivores and facultative carnivores. Obligate carnivores are completely dependent on meat for survival and never eat any plant foods. Animals that prefer flesh but eat plant food they must are called facultative carnivores.

The term omnivore is used to describe animals that eat both meat and plants, and there is no clear line distinguishing omnivores from facultative carnivores. The third dietary classification of animals is herbivores; animals in this category eat only plants and no meat.

The term carnivore is sometimes used outside the animal kingdom to describe plants and fungi that feed on flesh. Carnivorous plants, such as the Venus fly trap, capture insects and use them as a source of nutrients and water. Carnivorous fungi trap microscopic organisms and use them as an energy source.