Top 14 Animals that Eat Plants

We all know that animals are divided into three main categories: carnivores, omnivores and herbivores.

But for those who don’t know, carnivores enjoy hunting and eating the meat of any live prey they can find, whereas herbivores enjoy eating plants only and don’t bother hunting. Omnivores are hybrid in the truest sense of the word and can both hunt for prey and munch on plants to survive.

In this article, we will be taking you through our list of 14 of the most well-known herbivores in the animal kingdom and discussing each of their respective anatomies, behaviors and eating patterns to gain further insight into how these plant-eating animals are different from animals in the other two categories.

So, without any further ado, let’s get straight into it.

14 Animals that Eat Plants

1. Cows

Topping our list is arguably the most recognizable plant-eating animal in the world: cows. These incredibly docile and useful creatures are mostly domesticated and used as livestock on farms for their meat and milk. Cows are pretty interesting when you take an in-depth look into their digestive system and how it works. Cows have a total of 4 stomachs, which help them digest even the toughest plants and ensure that they can eat much more than an average human can. However, they also have another purpose.

If you’ve ever visited the countryside, you may have seen cows constantly chewing on something even after their meal. This is because their four stomachs keep bringing food back up for them to chew, making it easier for them to eventually digest it. Lastly, cows also have the unique ability to sleep while standing up!

2. Sloths

Mostly found in trees in the various rainforests of the world, sloths are one of the most interesting animals in the entire animal kingdom. Their favorite activity is hanging upside down on branches and munching on the various leaves growing on them. Astonishingly, sloths can stay upside down on a tree branch for several days without getting tired.

Their digestive system is the real interesting bit, as just like their movement, their digestive system is also extremely slow. In fact, it can take sloths more than a month to fully digest their food.

3. Goats

Arguably the second most easily recognizable herbivores after cows, goats have plenty of interesting features that make them excellent domesticated animals. For instance, goats have an innate desire to be part of a herd and are social animals by nature. In addition, they’re also incredibly docile and friendly, which makes them easy to domesticate.

They’re primarily used for their meat, wool and milk on farms all across the world. Mountain goats are one species that truly enjoy their isolation and are satisfied with sustaining themselves with the sparse vegetation found on mountains. Goats also have the extraordinary ability to recognize and remember up to 50 individuals, including animals and other goats.

4. Deer

Not many herbivores in the world can fight back against their predators. The antlers on the top of a deer’s head allow them to protect themselves from predator attacks. Deer are also considered the most evolved species on earth as they’ve experienced plenty of natural genetic mutations and have been divided into several distinct species. Deer, like goats and cows, also possess four-chambered stomachs, something that’s only found in animals that survive on a primarily plant-based diet.

Their motile lips and specialized teeth help them chew and pull out even the toughest vegetation. Deer, however, are very picky about what they choose to put inside their bodies and usually pick out the most nutrient-rich vegetation that can improve the rate of their antler growth.

5. Giraffes

Affectionately known as long necks, giraffes are another animal species that survives mainly on a plant-based diet. Their distinctly long necks help these animals reach the leaves on the tallest trees, which no other animal can reach. The distinctive pattern of their coat, which looks like irregular blocks placed together ranging from dark brown to chestnut brown, also sets them apart from other animals.

Moreover, their massive size also allows them to consume and store a huge quantity of food in one meal, approximately 70 pounds.

6. Koala Bears

Native to the rainforests in Australia, Koala Bears are indeed the most docile bear species in the world and usually spend the entirety of their life moving from tree to tree, looking for food and caring for their young. Unlike other domesticated animals, koala bears prefer their isolation and aren’t social animals by nature. These bears actually depict some of the same characteristics as kangaroos, as they also have special pouches that they use to carry their young.

Their primary diet consists of the leaves on Eucalyptus trees. Now, as most of us know, the leaves of eucalyptus trees are often full of harmful toxins that can even kill humans if not removed beforehand. But koalas have a special digestive system that removes these toxins from their body and ensures that they only digest the nutrient content of the leaves.

7. Horses

One of the oldest herbivore animal species in the world, Horses are considered pack animals that enjoy social interactions with other horses and even humans. Their docile nature makes them suitable for domestication and riding. A unique fact you might not have known about them is that horses have the largest eyes of all animal species in the animal kingdom.

These eyes are positioned on either side of their heads, giving them an increased field of vision much larger than those of humans. Add to that their acute sense of hearing, which allows them to detect predators from about two miles away. This makes them incredibly perceptive animals that are rarely ever caught unaware by their predators.

8. Zebras

Zebras are plant-eating animals mostly known for their unique black and white stripes. It’s also a well-known fact that the stripes on every zebra are of a different pattern, just like every human’s fingerprint has a different pattern. This little fact makes them even more interesting.

They have many qualities that are their own, including the extra layer of fat beneath their skin that allows them to stay cool in the hottest climates by properly regulating their body temperature. Zebras, unlike horses, are not domesticated and definitely not the best option to ride on or keep as pets.

Are zebras really comparable to horses? Find out in this video.

9. Pandas

Probably the cutest animals in the entire animal kingdom, Pandas are known to make absolute fools of themselves very often, which also makes them quite endearing to humans who don’t get tired of witnessing their antics. Found primarily in the bamboo forests of China, pandas love munching on this delicacy found only in this region and have even made these trees a part of their habitat.

Pandas are famous for their distinctive black and white patterned fur that helps them camouflage and attract mates. Unfortunately, pandas were very close to extinction because humans hunted them aggressively for their fur. Special conservation efforts are already in action to keep this adorable animal from becoming extinct.

10. Elephants

One of the largest land mammals in the world, elephants are animals that you might not expect to be herbivores. However, they survive on a strictly plant-based diet consisting of fruits and leaves on trees they pluck using their long and strong trunks. Their trunks also help them in drinking, breathing, loading and grooming.

Due to their enormous size, elephants must feed on more than 350 pounds of vegetation in one meal to sustain themselves and have the energy to complete the rest of their tasks. Elephants can also turn into grass grazers when they don’t like foraging for fruits and leaves.

11. Kangaroo

These native Australian animals prefer living in isolation and avoiding contact with humans or other animal species. Like koala bears, they have a pouch in which they carry their young around with them. Their mode of travel is a little different to koalas, as they can’t climb trees and instead use hops and jumps to move from one place to another.

Kangaroos are herbivores who depend entirely on flowers, grass and plants to sustain their appetite. They’ll also sometimes eat tree bark, but only when there’s no grass or leaves nearby.

Learn more about these incredibly strong animals in this video!

12. Hamster

Speaking of adorable animal species that are also herbivores, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention hamsters in this list. These small rodent-like creatures are becoming popular pets for humans who can’t get enough of their tiny size and furry appearance. Some of their unique features include their large cheek pouches to store food, and their constantly growing teeth, which they need to keep in check by constantly gnawing on things.

Hamsters can eat various fruits and vegetables to satisfy their hunger, including apples, carrots, broccoli and spinach.

13. Rabbit

Animals quite comparable to hamsters when it comes to cuteness are rabbits. These furry creatures absolutely love having fun and interacting with humans when kept as pets. On top of that, their favorite activity is playing hide-and-seek with humans. These animals prefer to stay isolated out in the wild as they’re deathly afraid of predators.

Rabbits spend most of their time in their special underground burrows. The favorite meals of these herbivores are blades of grass, flowers and the leaves of small plants.

14. Sheep

One of the oldest species of domesticated animals, sheep are one of the original land grazing animals that humans use to keep as livestock. Their wool was also an exceptional commodity in the olden days, as farmers could earn a fortune by selling it.

In terms of their diet, it primarily consists of grass and the leaves of small plants. These herbivores can trek long distances for food and prefer to live in packs to satiate their social desires. They’re the preferred animals for keeping animals as livestock as they’re relatively low maintenance and docile.

Wrap Up!

While we’d like to believe it, not all herbivores are friendly or docile animals. Just because they have a plant-based diet doesn’t make some animals less wild and aggressive – such as elephants, kangaroos, and zebras.

We hope you learnt something from this article today about the top herbivorous animals. If you can think of any animal we’ve not covered in this list, let us know in the comments below!

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Nadine Oraby

My name is Nadine; I am a passionate writer and a pet lover. People usually call me by the nickname “Joy” because they think that I am a positive and joyful person who is a child at heart. My love for animals triggered me to create this blog. Articles are written by vets, pet experts, and me. Thanks for visiting. Your friend, Nadine!

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