The term omnivore stems from the Latin words omni, meaning“all or everything”, and vorare, meaning “to devour.” Although omnivores are rare, they are a diverse group of animals that includes certain types of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and even insects. Because of their wide-ranging diet, omnivores can find food in most environments. Let’s look at 10 interesting omnivores, you might be surprised at some of the animals on this list!
10. American Black Bear
Black bears are North America’s most common and widely distributed type of bear and can be found in popular tourist spots like Yellowstone National Park. They make their homes in the forests and mountains, following seasonal landscape changes for different food sources. For example, in the summer and fall, these bears gravitate toward berry patches or rivers with abundant salmon. In addition to berries and fish, black bears use their strong sense of smell to seek out a wide variety of foods, like insects, roots, honeycomb, young deer or moose, and human garbage.
9. Red Fox
The nocturnal red fox lives in various environments in the continental United States, from woodlands to wetlands, from rural farmlands to suburban fields. This predator is primarily nocturnal, with a strong sense of smell and keen hearing. Red foxes eat small mammals like mice, rabbits, and voles. If they live near water, these foxes will catch and eat crayfish and mollusks. In addition, these omnivores eat plenty of plant foods such as acorns, mushrooms, grains, fruits, and berries.
The domestic pig is a livestock animal known for its intelligence and voracious appetite. Pigs will eat a wide variety of foods, with an emphasis on plant matter. Some favorite food sources include root vegetables, bread, fruit, and grains. They eat small insects and worms, but people who care for domestic pigs should not feed them meat scraps because of possible contamination. Since pigs aren’t picky, it’s easy to provide these omnivores with a well-balanced diet.
Chickens are another omnivorous livestock animal. Various chicken breeds are developed for different purposes, but all chickens eat a mix of animal and plant foods. Prepared chicken feed is grain-based and contains balanced amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins. In addition, chickens love fruit, vegetables, and insects.
6. Bearded Dragon
Bearded dragons, or “Beardies”, are popular pets. Because they come from an area where food is sometimes scarce, these lizards adapted to include a wide variety of foods in their diets. Younger dragons are generally more carnivorous, while older dragons are more herbivorous. Bearded dragons love vegetables such as bell peppers, spinach, and collard greens. Quality protein sources include crickets, worms, spiders, moths, slugs, and even tofu. As a dessert, Beardies love many kinds of fruits.
Much like the red fox, the raccoon is an opportunistic nocturnal omnivore. Their food choices depend heavily on their environment and the type of food available. A raccoon’s diet mostly consists of invertebrates, like crayfish, snails, and crabs. Common plant foods are acorns, fruits, nuts, and berries. In urban environments, raccoons are known to search dumpsters for human food scraps.
Crows are incredibly adaptable birds. These social omnivores can thrive in almost any environment, like woodlands, farmyards, and residential areas, as long as they have enough trees to nest. Crows eat whatever is available, such as insects, spiders, snakes, eggs, rodents, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. They also scavenge dead animals and garbage. These birds are highly intelligent and have been seen dropping nuts onto a street and waiting for passing cars to crack the shells. They have similar behavior along the coast, dropping shellfish onto rocks to crack open the hard exterior.
3. Snapping Turtle
Snapping turtles are widespread across most of the United States, so their diet changes based on their habitats. They are aquatic turtles, meaning they spend almost all their time in the water. These reptiles, not to be confused with tortoises, feast on a wide variety of aquatic plants, in addition to insects, worms, fish, frogs, small mammals, and some birds. They wait silently for their prey and then lunge forward, capturing their next meal with surprising speed and powerful jaws.
There are 37 types of catfish found in fresh and saltwater environments. Although their features and habits vary, all catfish are omnivorous. Catfish feed along the bottom of a body of water, using the external taste buds on their barbels (whisker-like appendages) to help them determine their next meal. Catfish eat aquatic plants and seeds, and other fish, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.
It might be surprising to learn that this tiny pollinator is an omnivore! Scientists have recently discovered that microbial meat is necessary for a bee’s diet. This microbial meat is naturally located within pollen and is the protein of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Although it was long assumed that bees consume an entirely plant-based diet (in the form of pollen and nectar), new research shows that bees rely on non-plant protein to complete their growth and development.