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noun, plural: omnivores

An animal that includes both plants and animals in its normal diet


Animals may be classified based on the type of their normal diet. Animals that feed (exclusively) on animals are called carnivores. Those that feed (exclusively) on plants are called herbivores. Animals that feed both on animals and plants are referred to as omnivores.

Omnivores are a group of animals that derive energy and nutrients from a variety of food sources, such as plants and animals, as well as fungi, algae and bacteria.1 Because of the wide variety of food sources, omnivores are also called all-eaters. However, compared with other animal groups such as carnivores and herbivores, the omnivores lack distinctive specializations in acquiring and processing food.2

Examples of omnivores are chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, pigs, most bears, hedgehogs, opossums, skunks, sloths, squirrels, mice, rats, rodents, raccoons, and many others. Humans are regarded as omnivores. However, there are those who are selective in their diet and chose to feed solely on plant materials (i.e. vegans).

Word origin: Latin omnis (all) + Latin vorare (to devour)

See also:

Related term(s):

  • omnivorous (adjective)

Mentioned in:

1"Omnivore" . National Geographic Education. National Geographic Society. Link
2McArdle, Ph.D., John (May–June 1991). "Humans are Omnivores". Vegetarian Journal (The Vegetarian Resource Group).