Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts

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!

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?

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!

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.

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.

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

If you're interested in the different types of animals and their diets, we recommend the following articles:

  • Herbivorous animals: Examples and fun facts
  • Carnivorous animals: Examples and fun facts
  • Omnivorous animals: Examples and fun facts
  • What are seed predators? Granivorous birds and their diets

If you want to read similar articles to Ruminant Animals: Full List and Fun Facts, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.