Vegetarian. Plant/Leaf eater. Herbivore. All these terms mean the same thing - an animal that is adapted to eating plants and greens for the majority of their diet! Herbivores are a very important part of the food chain, because they digest those ever important carbohydrates that plants produce through the process known as photosynthesis. Carnivores will then consume those herbivores to gain the same carbohydrates!
Herbivores have a few key traits that help them consume plant matter:
- Herbivores often will have a longer digestive tract than carnivores, as well as multiple stomach chambers.
- Special bacteria known as "gut flora" help herbivores digest the plant matter they eat, because it's more difficult to digest than animal matter.
- While carnivores have sharp teeth for tearing the flesh of their prey, herbivores have flat teeth that can grind up plant matter.
There are a few different types of Herbivores, such as those that only eat one type of plants like fruit or leaves only, and then those that can eat a variety of plants. Herbivores also can vary greatly in size, from the huge African Elephant, all the way down to some of the smallest insects on the planet!