What is a herbivore?
Herbivores are at the second level of the food chain and mainly eat plants. Herbivores are considered primary consumers and are the first consumers on the food chain. Herbivores don’t always eat the same things. Herbivores like squirrels eat grass and small plants near the ground and are called grazers. Herbivores that eat leaves, shoots, and twigs are called browsers. Very large animals like elephants, rhinos, and moose are grazers and browsers.
 [Squirrel]               [Elephant]
 It is hard for some herbivores to digest plants so they eat a lot of them in order to get the nutrients they need. Animals that eat grass have ridges in their teeth in order to help them chew food into smaller pieces so they can digest it easier.
Herbivores, many times, have bodies that help them get the food that they need. Giraffes have long necks because they need them to reach the the tops of acacia trees so they can get food.

Some herbivores eat all of a plant but others only eat certain parts, like seeds, fruits, or flowers. Caterpillars are one type of herbivore that only eats part of a plant, they only eat the leaves.

Herbivores have bodies that help them in getting their food. Animals like deer can bend down easily so that they can eat grass.
[Sheep]                                   [Cow]       

Herbivores sometimes have to re-chew their food in order to break it down enough for their body to absorb the energy they need. The food they ate comes back up into their mouth after it was already in their stomach for awhile and they re-chew it, this food is called cud. Animals like sheep, cows and deer are examples of herbivores that chew their food twice.

Herbivores in other Ecosystems
Herbivores in the Desert

In the desert there are many smaller animals that eat only plants. There are many species of small rodents in the desert; some of these animals are kangaroo rats and mice. These small animals eat mainly seeds.
MouseKangaroo rat
     [Mouse]         [Kangaroo Rat]


The desert tortoise has a hard shell to keep itself safe while it searches for food in the hot desert, some of the things these turtles eat are, grasses and cactus fruits.
Desert TortoiseCactus Fruits
[Desert Tortoise]              [Cactus Fruit]
The sand grouse is a bird in the desert; they are camouflaged and search the ground for seeds.
Sand Grouse
[Sand Grouse]
Though there are many small desert herbivores, there are also some large desert herbivores as well. The camel is one example of a large desert herbivore; they eat coarse grass and thorny shrubs. If camels can’t find the producers they need for food they can also use the food stored in their humps.

Herbivores in the Water
Water SnailsShrimpCrab
[Water snails]                            [Shrimp]                                        [Crab]
In underwater ecosystems there are many different herbivores. The herbivores in these ecosystems mainly eat algae and phytoplankton. These herbivores are called zooplankton which means wandering animals. Some of the animals that are considered zooplankton are newly hatched shrimp, crabs, fish, sea worms, and water snails.

Herbivores in the forest
In the forest there are many different kinds of herbivores some eat parts of plants, some eat all of plants, some eat seeds, and some eat nectar.
     [Bee]                                [Birds]                          [Butterfly]
Bird, bees, and butterflies eat nectar from flowers to get the nutrients they need to survive. Small animals in the forest called rodents eat the seeds of plants and insects eat the leaves of plants.
[Rabbit]                            [Squirrel]
Rabbits and squirrels eat whatever kind of plant food they can find on the forest floor.

Herbivores in the Arctic
The Arctic is very cold and includes both land and water animals. In the arctic waters there are zooplankton but on land there are many other herbivores. Some arctic land herbivores include lemmings, arctic hares, musk ox, caribou, and ptarmigan. Most of these animals eat plant leaves, grasses, and herbs.

Arctic HarePtarmigan
[Arctic Hare]                         [Ptarmigan]


Are you an herbivore?
There are people in our society that eat mainly plants and don’t eat meat, we call these people vegetarians. Vegetarians are more like herbivores than any other kind of consumer because they eat mostly fruits and vegetables which are plants.
Fruits and Vegetables
[Fruits and Vegetables]

Lesson Plan  Quiz Homework Activity The Food Chain