Difference Between Carnivores and Omnivores

Species are often classified and segregated based on their feeding pattern. Further species are placed in the trophic level which helps in determining the food web or food chain of the ecosystem. The third trophic level is occupied by two main categories, that are carnivores and omnivores.

Carnivores vs Omnivores

The main difference between carnivores and omnivores is that carnivores are those animals that consume the flesh or meat of other animals as their mode of nutrition. On the other hand, omnivores are those animals that consume plant materials as well as the flesh of other animals as their mode of nutrition.


Carnivorous animals have distinct characteristics. They are agile and stronger species as they have to hunt and capture. They have sharp teeth and claws which help in tearing the prey efficiently. Carnivores play the role of checking the animal population in the food web or chain.

While omnivorous animals do not have any distinct characteristics and features. They do not have high speeds like carnivorous animals. The teeth are sharp to bite and cut the food. Omnivores have a crucial role in the food chain or web as they are capable of checking both vegetation growth as well as animal growth of the ecosystem.

Comparison Table Between Carnivores And Omnivores

Parameters of Comparison CarnivoresOmnivores
Word derivation Carnivores has been derived from two Latin words “Caro” and “vorare” Omnivores has been derived from two Latin words called “omnis” and “vora”
Sub-categoriesHypercarnivores and mesocarnivores Frugivores, granivores, insectivores, pinnipeds, felines, and various other types
Chewing capacity Carnivores do not chew their food for long Omnivores chew their food for a long time
Intestine length Carnivores have intestines that are about 3 to 6 times of the body length Omnivores have intestines which are about 4 to 6 times of the body length
Strength Carnivores are stronger animals as they have to hunt and capture their prey Omnivores are comparatively less strong animals as they have a flexible diet

What is Carnivores?

Carnivores are referred to as those animals which eat the flesh of other animals to survive. They are also known as meat-eater animals. The derivation of the term carnivore has been from merging two Latin words “caro” and “vorare”, which means ” flesh” and “to devour” respectively. The entire nutrition and requirements of food and energy of such animals are fulfilled from the issues of other animals

Carnivores can survive either by scavenging or hunting. They devour all the tissues of the animal whether fat, muscle, or other soft tissues. The placement of a carnivore in the food chain is at the top and is called apex predator, as it cannot be preyed upon by other animals. These animals have a characteristic speed, strength, teeth, claws, and enhanced senses for hunting and capturing prey.

Carnivores are further classified into two major types. They are hypercarnivores and mesocarnivores. Hypercarnivores are also known as obligate carnivores and are referred to as the animals that have sole dependence on the meat or flesh of the animal to fulfill nutrient requirements. Mesocarnivores are also known as facultative carnivores and are referred to as those animals that also survive on the consumption of non-animal food.

Carnivores are not only restricted in the animal kingdom, but other genera also exhibit such examples. Like carnivorous plants and carnivorous fungi. Carnivorous plants are predominantly referred to the insectivores while carnivorous fungi prey on microscopic invertebrates like springtails, nematodes, and amoebae.

What is Omnivores?

Omnivores are referred to as those animals which consume both non-animals as well as animal food for survival. Such animals obtain nutrients energy from animal and plant matter. The derivation of the term omnivore is from merging two Latin words called “omnis” and “vora”, which means “all” and “to devour or eat” respectively.

Omnivores have a flexible diet and they can also incorporate various food sources like bacteria, algae, and fungi. They belong from diverse backgrounds. The consumption capabilities of omnivores have independently evolved. They can digest carbohydrates, fiber, fat, and other types of nutrients which is received from the sources.

Omnivores are further classified into sub-categories which are based on the feeding behavior of the animals. Like frugivores, granivores, insectivores, and various other types are omnivores but have a particular niche of feeding behavior and have a specific preference of foods. Omnivores have an essential role in the food chain. They also fall under the category of scavengers since some feed on the remains of dead animals.

Various animals exhibit omnivorous characteristics in wild like rats, pigs mice, hominids, opossums, badgers, chipmunks, skunks, hedgehogs, raccoons, and others. Not all were omnivorous from the beginning but the change is mainly due to the scarcity and unavailability. The placement of omnivores is in the 3rd trophic level of the food chain and is placed alongside flesh-eating carnivores.

Main Differences Between Carnivores and Omnivores

  1. Carnivores have sharper claws while omnivores have comparatively less sharp claws.
  2. The facial muscles of carnivores are reduced while the facial muscles of omnivores can be reduced or complex.
  3. The canines of carnivores are extremely long sharp and curved while the canines of omnivores are comparatively less sharp, curved, and longer.
  4. Carnivores have sharp, blade-shaped, and jagged teeth molars while omnivores have sharp yet flattened teeth molars.
  5. Carnivores have incisors that are short and pointed while omnivores have incisors comparatively less short and pointed.


Both carnivores and omnivores are essential in the ecosystem to maintain balance. They play the role of transferring energy In the different trophic levels of a food chain. They also reduce competing species. However, both have different feeding relationships. The extraction and absorption of nutrients in both species are different from each other.

The extinction of any one of the categories can affect numerous other parts of a food chain. Like extinction or removal of the species of omnivores can cause an overabundance of vegetation growth and creatures that were consumed by those omnivores. These species also prevent the spread of diseases by consuming of remains of dead animals. Both the categories of species are interdependent.


  1. https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-016-1071-4
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=lang_en&id=Nlw6DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA67&dq=carnivore+and+omnivore&ots=XJ9mC8Txum&sig=HuteU9aIMRi8RgmlA9P0lh6Kg3g
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