Facts about the animal kingdom

Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: November 9, 2020
Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts

Ruminant animals are those whose stomachs are divided into compartments. Some examples of these animals are yak, sheep, goats or deer. However, there is more to it as there are also different types of ruminant animals.

In this AnimalWised article we're going to talk about the four main groups of ruminant animals. We'll include a list of examples and include other fun facts about these animals. Keep reading to learn more!

You may also be interested in: Arctic Animals Facts: Full List!


  1. What are ruminant animals?
  2. Bovines and Cattle
  3. Ovines and sheep
  4. Caprines and goat-antelopes
  5. Deer
  6. More examples of ruminant animals

What are ruminant animals?

Ruminant animals are polygastric, meaning their stomach is divided into compartments. Some of the compartments have microorganisms that ferment the cellulose in the vegetables they eat into cud, which is easier to digest. Consequently, ruminant animals are also herbivores.

Ruminant animals are characterized by their method of digesting food in two phases. Like all animals, they start their digestion after eating food. However, before the digestive process is complete ruminant animals regurgitate their food to chew it again and add saliva.

There are four large groups of ruminants. We will list them and give you some examples so that you can fully understand what ruminants are and know one when you see it.

1. Bovines and Cattle

Most ruminants belong to the family of bovids, Bovidae. Within that group we find the subfamily of bovines or Bovinae, which includes cattle.

These are probably the best known ruminant animals. As you will see below, some animals names are followed by the † symbol, which means they are extinct. Below is a list of some bovine animals:

  • Anoa
  • Auroch †
  • Banteng
  • Bison
  • Bongo
  • Buffalo
  • Cow, Bull, Ox
  • Eland
  • Four-horned antelope
  • Gaur
  • Gayal
  • Kéwel
  • Kudu
  • Kouprey
  • Imbabala
  • Nildai
  • Nyala
  • Saola
  • Sitatunga
  • Tamaraw
  • Water buffalo
  • Wild yak
  • Wisent
  • Yak
  • Zebu

Did you know... Camelids are not considered ruminants as they do not have a glandular fore stomach. Learn more in our article about the differences between camels and dromedaries.

Did you know... that buffaloes, water buffaloes and bison are easily confused?

Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts - 1. Bovines and Cattle

2. Ovines and sheep

Also within the family of the bovids we can find the subfamily Caprinae, the goat-antelopes. Within that subfamily we find the genus Ovis, the ovines or sheep.

The second largest group of ruminants are the ovines, ruminant animals best-known and appreciated for their milk and wool. There are not as many different types as there are in the cattle group but we can still give you a considerable list of ovine animals:

  • Argali
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Domestic sheep
  • Mouflon
  • Snow sheep
  • Trinhorn sheep
  • Urial

There are many different subspecies of domestic and wild sheep, and most of them are named for their native region and habitat.

Did you know... Despite being closely related and belonging to the same subfamily, goats and sheep underwent a phylogenetic separation. That happened in the last stage of the Neogene period, which started 23 million years ago and finished only 2.5 million years ago. In geological time, that's only yesterday!

Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts - 2. Ovines and sheep

3. Caprines and goat-antelopes

The third group of ruminant animals we examine is that of goat-antelopes, or caprines. The subfamily Caprinae is a cousin to the Bovinae, as they both belong to the Bovidae family. Within this subfamily you can find the ovids, which we separated so as not to mix up goats and sheep.

Some caprine ruminants other than sheep include:

  • Alpine ibex
  • Arabian tahr
  • Bharal
  • Barbary sheep
  • Chamois
  • Chinese goral
  • Chinese serow
  • Dwarf blue sheep
  • Grey goral
  • Himalayan serow
  • Himalayan tahr
  • Japanese serow
  • Long-tailed goral
  • Markhor
  • Mountain goat
  • Muskox
  • Nilgiri tahr
  • Nubian ibex
  • Pyrenean chamois
  • Reg goral
  • Red serow
  • Siberian ibex
  • Spanish ibex
  • Sumatran serow
  • Takin
  • Taiwan serow
  • Walia ibex
  • West Caucasian tur
  • Wild goat (includes the domestic goat as a subspecies)

Did you know... Through remastication, ruminants are able to reduce the particle size of their food to ensure that their body can assimilate and digest it.

Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts - 3. Caprines and goat-antelopes

4. Deer

To complete our full list of ruminant animals, we will now look at a very beautiful and noble group of ruminants: Deer. Deer is the general name for the members of the family Cervidae, which includes different subspecies and genera, altogether including more than 90 species.

Some examples of deer include:

  • American wapiti or elk
  • Barasingha
  • Bawean deer
  • Brocket
  • Calamian deer
  • Chital
  • Eld's deer
  • Eurasian elk
  • Fallow deer
  • Hog deer
  • Huemul
  • Maral deer
  • Marsh deer
  • Mindanao mountain deer
  • Mindoro deer
  • Moose
  • Mule deer
  • Muntjac
  • Pampas deer
  • Père David's deer
  • Philippine sambar
  • Prince Alfred's deer
  • Pudú
  • Red deer
  • Reindeer or caribou
  • Roe deer
  • Rusa deer
  • Sambar deer
  • Sika deer
  • Swamp deer
  • Taruca
  • Thamin
  • Thorold's deer
  • Tufted deer
  • Water deer
  • White-tailed deer

Did you know... The now extinct Irish elk was one of the largest deer that ever existed? These animals could reach more than 2 m (6.9 ft) tall, and their antlers were a stunning 3.65 m (12 ft) wide. It is believed that Irish elk became extinct more than 7,000 years ago, but the reasons why it happened haven't been found yet.

Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts - 4. Deer

More examples of ruminant animals

There are more than 150 species of ruminants in the world, but confusingly enough they don't necessarily include all those in the suborder Ruminantia.

Other ruminants outside those groups include:

  • Addax
  • Antelope
  • Beira
  • Blackbuck
  • Bluebuck
  • Bontebok
  • Chevrotain
  • Dibatag
  • Dik-dik
  • Duiker
  • Gazelle
  • Gerenuk
  • Giraffe
  • Grysbok
  • Goa
  • Hartebeest
  • Impala
  • Klipspringer
  • Kob
  • Lechwe
  • Musk deer
  • Okapi
  • Oribi
  • Oryx
  • Pronghorn
  • Puku
  • Reedbuck
  • Rhebok
  • Saiga
  • Springbok
  • Steenbok
  • Suni
  • Topi
  • Tsessebe
  • Waterbuck
  • Wildebeest
  • Zeren
Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts - More examples of ruminant animals

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What did you think of this article?
Waheed akinola Akano Hassan
Thank you for the elaborate explanation about the ruminant animals!
Administrador AnimalWised
You're very welcome!
Barbara Holbrook
Like to know which true ruminants are cloven-hooved. Thanks, I'll keep looking.
Great resource!
William Wilson
Somehow "cows" became "coed" which is Welsh for a wood. A strained pun? This is?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi William,

Thank you for clarifying this. It makes so much sense now, but we couldn't work out what was meant. But now we know, we think people single out cows for the simple reason there are so many of them. Industrial farming means the amount of cows present on the planet is much greater than that of many other ruminant species.
William Wilson
There are so many ruminants. Why are we singling out coed for criticism?
Administrador AnimalWised
Is this a strained pun? We applaud your attempt if so and leave it up to other commentators to decide how they like it 😂
J. Lance De Foa, MD
Runinats may INGEST plant matter, but they DIGEST the microbes that help them break that plant matter down and multiply. Those bacteria also produce short chain fatty acids (like butyric acid, found in butter), which are absorbed from their foregut. So they are MICROBIVORES more than they are Herbivores.
Administrador AnimalWised

We would respectively disagree. While we understand what you mean, ruminants are still categorized by the food they ingest. Just because they break the food down differently, doesn't mean they eat different food. Ruminants use microbes to break down their food into usable molecules. Microbivores directly eat microbes, something practiced only by mesofauna, microfauna and meiofauna. There is a distinct difference.
By that definition then ALL animals are prijarily microb eating not carnivore omnivore herbivore, carion only etc. Everything living on this planet is covered in microbes. All animals have microbs in their gi tracks and on their surfaces. This is taken to the extreme by "hind-gut" animals that use coprophagy to reinoculate their microdome in their gi tract.

Just as our bodyfat (Adipose Tissue) is now being considered as an organ of the endocrine system by science, so will, one day, the microdome be seen as a distinct system in the body. Science and biomed has come a long in the last 20yrs in terms of the effects and critical nature of the microdome on the health or lack there of of the whole animal. Thus by far the most complex is the ultimate omnivore "Eukaryota: Animalia: Chordata: Vertebrata: Mammalia: Theria: Tetrapoda: Primates: Hominidae: Homo: Sapiens" i.e. "Human Beings". Boy is science wordy. I recall discussing and researching the microdome and its effects on the host back in the late 90s/2k. Outside specialized research papers it was only discussed in relation to the most basic effects from the use of a round of antibiotics. But even then only seen in terms of its primary outward symptoms diarrhea/loose stool/abdominal discomfort. To this day its current understanding is still in its infancy compared to other organs/systems.
Colin John Williams
Are sloths ruminant or pseudo ruminant?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Colin,

Sloths are not true ruminants, but they do have three chambered stomachs and can take up to a month to digest food. This makes them pseudoruminants as true ruminants have a four chambered stomach. Thanks for asking!
alec taylor
If cow farts do damage to our environment, do all the other ruminants listed here also do damage?😃
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Alec,

That's a good question. Cow's produce so much methane from their flatulence compared to other animals because they are so intensively farmed for both meat and dairy products. There are other ruminants who would produce similar amounts of methane if not more. The difference is these animals are not farmed as intensively. For example, if there were as many bison farmed in the same way, they would likely produce similar levels.
J. Lance De Foa, MD
The same species of bacteria produce the same amount of methane from a given amount of field grasses whether the grasses are decomposed in the field or inside the ruminant gut. When the grasses are eaten the nutritive content can be used to produced highly nutritious meat. If left in the field it adds to the soil depth. Cattle don't clear 100% of a field. Their manure helps to stimulate grass growth. That ultimately results in net CO2 capture. When cattle are grazed on land that can't produce other crops that is best. Growing corn to feed cattle may make them fatter faster, but that corn could be fed to humans, or things like brussels sprouts and broccoli or tomatoes could be grown instead. Agrochemical companies make no money when cattle fertilize and harvest the fields themselves.
Binbintir Biiyeen
this article is very helpful
Ibrahim yusuf
That is good
flop flip
ya i know
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Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts