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An omnivore survives by consuming both animals and plants as their primary source of food. A primary example of an omnivore is a human because we generally eat both plants and animals as a primary diet. Many are surprised when they discover that certain animals are omnivores. There are several interesting facts about survival, diet and the omnivore species that are important to know to fully understand them.
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How a species has adapted to its main food source is one of the characteristics that makes it an omnivore. The majority of bears are classified omnivorous, but not all. For example, polar bears are carnivores because their environment allows for mostly animal food sources, while panda bears are herbivores because their environment allows largely for plant food sources.
Common omnivore examples that are mammals include pigs, bears, hedgehogs, skunks, squirrels, chipmunks, rats, badgers, coatis, opossums, sloths, raccoons and mice. Common examples of omnivorous primates include chimpanzees and humans. Common examples of omnivorous birds include chickens, corvids, rallidae, cassowarys, crows, keas and rheas. Other species that can be omnivorous include certain lizards, invertebrates, turtles and fish, such as piranhas.
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The teeth of the omnivore are made to eat both plants and animal meats. The back teeth work to chew meats and grind down fruits and vegetables. The front teeth work to tear apart and rip into meat and bite into fruits and vegetables.
The diet depends on the specific omnivore and its environment. Humans obviously have access to the most types of meats and plants. We can eat a large variety of fish, red meats, poultry, fruits and vegetables. A bear on the other hand typically lives in the woods and he obviously cannot just stop by the grocery store. So he has to rely on what is available in his environment, which generally consists of fish, sea birds, small rodents, berries, nuts, fungi, insects, seals, fruits, roots, grasses and dead animals. An omnivorous bird tends to feed on acorns, fruits, insects, nuts, seeds, mice and frogs.
Raccoons, skunks and opossums can live in the woods or in the suburbs. In fact, you may see one of these animals rummaging through your trash cans at night. When they are in suburbs and cities, they tend to eat whatever they can find leftover in trash cans, berries from bushes and plants, fruits and vegetables from gardens, rodents and birds and anything else they can find.
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How They Survive
Omnivorous animals survive much the same way as humans do. They have to ensure they get a balanced diet and adequate water. They have to be aware of their environment and protect their young. If food is scarce, their predator instincts can take over causing them to seek out and stalk a food source. For example, a bear may stalk a live frog or fish. All omnivores have their food and environment preferences and when these are challenged, their survival instincts will take over.
- NatureWorks. (2011). Omnivores. Retrieved on April 28, 2011 from New Hampshire Public Television: http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/nwep10b.htm
- Image: Raccoon: MainSpring – sxc.hu
- Image: Berries: mosesc – sxc.hu
- Image: Bear Family: mvipond – sxc.hu
- Northwestern University. (2011). What is an Omnivore? Retrieved on April 28, 2011 from Northwestern University: http://www.qrg.northwestern.edu/projects/marssim/simhtml/info/whats-an-omnivore.html