Whenever you consider bringing an animal home, you need to be concerned about their basic needs; food, water, and shelter. To be able to provide the right healthy food, the aspiring pet parent needs to be sure if the animal is herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore.
Horses are taken as the most beloved pets for a variety of reasons. Every one in three people want to own a horse as a pet.
Before considering this domestic animal a pet, you need to know whether they are herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? What do they eat? What kind of shelter do they need? And the type of environment they prefer living in?
Since all such questions deserve a detailed answer, allow us to answer the most important ones of all; Are horses herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? What do they eat?
Are Horses Herbivores?
For the record, this highly social creature is an herbivore. It is not even a secret. These reliable fellas horses are strictly herbivores, they do not consider any other food that herbivores can not process. So, taking them as an omnivore or carnivores is wrong.
Why Are Horses Herbivores?
Because they are made so. The horses and other herbivores are made to process and digest plant matter only. So, they have got no choice but to be a herbivore and be labeled as herbivores.
If they could process other foods that herbivores can not digest, they probably wouldn’t be solely surviving on plant matter alone.
Still, having doubts? Thinking of researching why horses are like that? Well, if such questions are popping up in your mind, you need to understand the terms “herbivore”, “omnivore”, and “carnivore” in detail. So, you can judge if this domestic animal is “actually” herbivore or not.
The herbivores can be defined in the following ways;
- An animal or insect that prefers eating plant matter; grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree barks, aquatic vegetation, and shrubs.
- An animal or insect that is designed to process or digest plant matter; grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree barks, aquatic vegetation, and shrubs.
- An animal or insect that can not eat, process, or digest meat at all.
- An animal or insect that survives on things that need photosynthesis to live.
- An animal or insect that does not eat insects, animals, fish, or spiders.
All herbivores do eat plant matter but they can have different food requirements and habits.
Herbivores are of two types; one that can eat all sorts of grasses, leaves, shrubs, roots, bulbs, tree barks, and aquatic vegetation, and the one that sticks to a specific grass, leave, shrub, root, bulb, tree bark, or aquatic vegetation throughout their entire life.
The herbivores can eat one or more of the above-mentioned food options.
The group of herbivores that eat a certain kind of fruit is called frugivores, those who eat leaves are folivores, and the ones that prefer eating wood are categorized as xylophages.
Frugivores, folivores, and xylophages are all collectively called herbivores. The reason is that frugivores, folivores, and xylophages are all surviving on plant matter.
The digestive system herbivores possess is breathtakingly different from carnivores and omnivores. Their herbivore’s digestive system is composed of a single stomach and a long intestine along with a large cecum.
Their teeth and this specifically designed digestive system can only process the plant matter. So, it’s hard for the herbivores to digest meat or anything else that does not require photosynthesis to live.
Most domesticated animals that are surviving among us are herbivores. It’s just that we “really” do not bother if the animal is herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.
Cows, buffaloes, elk, goats, deer, horses, gorillas, tortoises, pandas, and elephants are examples of herbivores.
Omnivores can be defined as
- An animal, human, or organism that can eat, process, or digest meat and plant matter.
- An animal, human, or organism that derives energy and nutrients from plant matter, animals, fungi, algae, bacteria, and eggs.
The term “omnivores” we use for animals that eat both plants and animals is derived from the Latin word “omnis” and “vorare”.
Omnis means “everything” and vorare stands for “to devour or eat”. So, omnivores mean an animal, human, or organism that can devour everything.
Omnivores have flat molars, sharp teeth, and stomachs with one or more chambers and specialized digestive tract that can digest both plant matter and meat without creating any issue.
Since the omnivores eat meat as well as plant matter, they can be noticed hunting or being hunted down for food.
The omnivores that are hunting an animal down at a time are known as predators whereas the animal that is being hunted down for food is prey. An omnivore can be prey to some animals and predator to others at the same time.
Humans, opossums, skunks, sloths, squirrels, mice, rats, rodents, raccoons, chimpanzees, orangutans, gorillas, pigs, and hedgehogs are the common most known examples of omnivores.
Carnivores can be defined as
- The organisms that eat meat or flesh of animals.
- The organisms that derive energy and nutrients from the meat or flesh of animals.
- The animals that feed on other animals.
- The organisms that eat herbivores and omnivores occasionally.
- The organisms that consume both animal and non-animal food.
- The organisms whose energy and nutrient requirements are only found in animal flesh.
Carnivores can be prey or predators. They can hunt or be hunted down as well.
All Carnivores require a large number of calories, the need can only be fulfilled by hunting down bigger animals. Carnivores can be small, medium, or large-sized. The bigger the animal the bigger the need.
Omnivores are also of two types. The group of omnivores that survive on animal flesh are called hypercarnivores or obligate carnivores.
Whereas those who consume non-animal food as well are referred to as mesocarnivores or facultative carnivores.
All omnivores have supernatural strength, speed, and keen senses for hunting. Moreover, they have sharp teeth and claws that assist in capturing and tearing the prey.
Carnivores have been blessed with the simplest and short digestive systems as compared to the herbivores and omnivores.
It is so because the meat is comparatively easier to digest. Since they do not eat plant matter they do not have to process and break down the cellulose found in plant matter.
Most carnivores live in the wild. Lion, wolf, leopard, polar bear, cheetah, giant panda, and wild cats, etc are the few examples of the animals that survive on meat; carnivores.
So, How are Horses Herbivores?
If we begin understanding the terms herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores, we would not require the answer to the question of why horses are herbivores. The horses are herbivores because
- They need to fulfill their energy and nutrient requirements from plant matter; grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree barks, aquatic vegetation, and shrubs.
- They eat hay, grass, and concentrates; grains.
- They do not eat animal products at all.
- Their digestive system is made to process and digest plant matter.
- Their teeth can not chew meat.
So, calling horse omnivores or carnivores is wrong. They should only be referred to as herbivores.
Frequently Asked Questions
If horses are herbivores, why do they kill small animals?
Horses kill animals and small reptiles not to eat but to protect their mates. The animals or small reptiles horses kill usually end up being eaten by carnivores or omnivores.
What would happen if the horse eats meat?
If the meat is eaten in a small amount, to be very honest nothing would happen. If the herbivores keep eating meat frequently, the animal may suffer from digestive issues.
Can horses eat meat?
No, the horses can not eat meat at all because the said domestic animal is herbivores. Their digestive system and teeth are not made to process meat but plant matter.
Why are horses categorized as herbivores?
Horses are categorized as herbivores because they eat plant matter and have got a digestive system that can process and break down the cellulose found in plant matter.
Why do horses not eat meat?
Horses do not eat meat because they are herbivores, the animals that survive on plant matter; grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree barks, aquatic vegetation, and shrubs. They avoid eating meat because their digestive system is made to process and break down the cellulose found in plant matter, not meat.
Are horses omnivores?
No, horses and some other domestic animals are herbivores. They do not require meat to survive. So, it is wrong to refer to them as omnivores.
Horses are not omnivores or carnivores but herbivores because they are made to process and digest plant matter; grasses, leaves, roots, bulbs, tree barks, aquatic vegetation, and shrubs. Their digestive and teeth are also not made to process meat but cellulose found in plant matter.
Herbivores are the animals that survive on plant matter, omnivores are the ones who can eat both meat and plant matter, whereas the carnivores get their energy and nutrients from meat. Since horses do not eat meat at all, they are categorized as herbivores.
- Selection and acceptance of flavours in concentrate diets for stable horses
- Horses masticate similarly to ruminants