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Omnivorous Animals

By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: May 14, 2020
Omnivorous Animals

Are you looking for an example of an omnivorous animal? Here at AnimalWised we love to discover things about the animal kingdom, and for this reason we also enjoy learning about the nutritional needs of all living things. If you already know examples of carnivores and herbivores and what you now want is information on animals that feed on both types of foods, you are in the right place.

In this article we reveal examples, fun facts and curiosities about the best known omnivorous animals. Read on and discover everything about them!

You may also be interested in: What Are Scavenger Animals?

What is an omnivorous animal?

An omnivorous animal is one that regularly feeds both on plants and other animals. Its body is not adapted to exclusively eating meat or plants; instead, it's ready to digest both of these food sources.

An omnivore's jaw combines different types of teeth to enable chewing food from all sources. They have strong molars that provide plenty of room to chew, similarly to those of herbivores, and also molars and canines that are perfect for tearing, something characteristic of carnivores.

Keep in mind that there are herbivores who very occasionally eat meat and carnivores that may in occasion feast on plants, but these are not considered omnivores. For an animal to be omnivorous, it must regularly combine animal and plant food sources in its diet.

Examples of omnivorous mammals

  • Bear: They can be among the most opportunistic animals in existence, as they adapt perfectly to their habitat. If there is a lot of fruit in the area in which they live, then they will feed on the fruit. If instead there is a river with many fish, you will find bears fishing all day. The panda is also considered an omnivorous animal, as now and then it enjoys catching a rodent or small bird to spice up its bamboo diet.
    The only exception is the polar bear as this species is carnivorous, although this is simply because there are no vegetable food sources in its natural habitat, the Arctic.
  • Hedgehog: This is another animal that is increasingly being kept as a pet. Many believe that the hedgehog just feeds on insects and small invertebrates, but these little ones love to occasionally eat fruits and vegetables. Of course, these foods must be given in moderation.
  • Human beings: Yes, we tend to forget that we too are animals. We are characterized by our omnivorous diet. However, in the some cases, people choose to stop eating meat. They do not become herbivores, but are instead are referred to as vegetarians or vegans.
  • Other omnivorous mammals: In addition to these four, which are the best known omnivorous animals, other examples include some raccoon species, mice, rats, squirrels, badgers, coatis, opossums, sloths, chipmunks and skunks.
Omnivorous Animals - Examples of omnivorous mammals

Examples of omnivorous birds

  • Crow: if we said that the bears are opportunistic, crows really beat them at it. As you will have seen in many films, they are always prowling around in search of dead animal remains, but besides eating carcasses they also tend eat vegetables when such food sources are lacking. Here you can discover the differences between crows, ravens and rooks.
  • Hen: they are the complete opposite of a small child, as hens will eat anything and everything. Whatever you feed it, a hen will gulp it down without a second's hesitation. However, against popular belief, feeding hens bread is not beneficial because they will lay fewer eggs.
  • Ostrich: although their main dietary staples are vegetables and plants, ostriches are devoted fans of insects and whenever possible they will eat one up.
  • Magpie: these birds will also eat just about anything, although they are usually fed with dry feed for parrots or even for dogs.
  • Other examples of birds that have an omnivorous diet: cassowaries, chickens, some corvids (choughs, treepies, magpies, jays, Stresemann's bushcrows, nutcrackers, crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks), emus, hummingbirds, keas, orioles, ostriches, rheas, robins, rooks, some stypes of seagulls (pacific gulls, black-tailed gulls, common gulls, American herring gulls, Mediterranean gulls, dolphin gulls, red-billed gulls, Saunders's gulls, black-legged Kittiwakes, ivory gulls, Sabine's gulls, swallow-tailed gulls), woodpeckers and starlings.

Omnivorous aquatic birds

  • Cranes: some types of cranes are omnivores, these include: brolgas, black crowned cranes, grey crowned cranes, common cranes, sandhill cranes, whooping cranes, sarus cranes, Siberian cranes, white-naped cranes, hooded cranes, black-necked cranes, red-crowned cranes, blue cranes, demoiselle cranes and wattled cranes.

  • Ducks: it's a common misconception that ducks are herbivores. However, they are most certainly omnivores. Wild ducks eat underwater plants, wild land plants and they also enjoy eating small fish and bugs.

  • Flamingos: are large birds with long necks, sticklike legs and pink feathers. They eat both vegetation and meat, such as shrimp, larvae small insects, mollusks and crustaceans

  • Rallidae: some types of rallidae are omnivores, these include: coots, crakes and gallinules.

  • Swans: these beautiful white birds feed on both land and water. Although their diet almost exclusively consists of plants, they also eat small aquatic animals.

Omnivorous Animals - Examples of omnivorous birds

Omnivorous insects, reptiles or fish

Other than mammals and birds, it should also be noted that among reptiles and fish we can also find omnivorous animals, such as the infamous piranhas and some kinds of turtles. Maybe you believed that piranhas wait around for some unwary victim to fall into the water - an unsurprising thought, as films influence us so much! Here are some more omnivorous animals we haven't mentioned yet:

  • Insects: american spider beetles, ants, cockroaches, crickets, flies, wasps, pygmy grasshoppers and western yellow jackets.
  • Fish: opaleyes, piranhas and catfish.
  • Reptiles: some types of turtles.

Do you know more omnivorous animals and fun facts that are not on this list? Surely you do. Share them with us so we can add all your suggestions!

If you want to read similar articles to Omnivorous Animals, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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2 comments
Rating:
Isidro
Come on! Piranhas are omnivorous? Can't you find a more misfortunate example for the illustration above?
Administrador AnimalWised
Sorry Isidro,

We are not quite sure what point you are making?
Rating:
Anna La Vell
This was very good but should tell more information about omnivores

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