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Herbivores: Herbal Feeding
What they are - biological definition
Herbivores are organisms that consume only autotrophs (organisms capable of producing their own food from inorganic substances), such as plants, algae and some bacteria that perform photosynthesis.
Information and main characteristics of herbivores
Within this definition, many fungi, some bacteria, many animals, about 1% of the flora and some protists, can be considered herbivores. Many people restrict the term herbivore to animals only, however, as we have just seen, this definition goes beyond that.
Fungi, bacteria and protists that make plants their "habitat" are considered parasites. They are so called, therefore, they live through another being, from which they draw all the resources necessary for their survival. They are harmful to plants, so they are considered pathogenic.
The microbes that feed on dead plants are saprotrophs (these beings feed on excrement and dead organisms), unlike parasites, are very useful for balancing the food chain.
Definition in Zoology
In zoology a herbivore is defined as an animal adapted to feed primarily on vegetables (rather than meat). Although these animals are considered “vegetarian”, this term is much better applied to humans, as they, unlike animals, may choose not to eat meat. In the case of animals (including herbivores), what will always prevail will be their survival instinct.
Herbivores can be classified into several subgroups, such as frugivores (fruit-eating), folivores (leaf-eating), nectarivores (nectar-eating), among the nectarivores are some insects and arthropods, granivores (feed on grains), polymers (feed on pollen), mucivores (feed on fluids), etc.
The diet of some herbivores varies with the seasons, especially in temperate zones, where different plants and foods become more available at certain times of the year.
Can they attack humans?
There is a mistaken view regarding herbivores and this poses a great danger. Many believe that the fact that the animal is herbivorous will prevent it from attacking humans, this is a completely mistaken view. In Africa, among the five animals considered most dangerous by hunters (buffalo, rhino, elephant, leopard and lion), three of them are herbivores.
Importance in the food chain
Herbivores play a very important role in the food chain, as it is through them that solar energy stored in plants is made available to other animals in the food chain, such as carnivores.
Examples of herbivorous animals
- Guinea pig