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Your_Majesty's avatar

Can a true herbivore becomes an omnivore?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8212points) June 27th, 2010

We know that true herbivores only eat plant and their digestive system are made and can only cope for this purpose. But I recently found that The Arctic hares according to Wikipedia and other sites could and will occasionally eat meat.

By looking at that example one can say that Arctic hares turn from herbivores to omnivores or they’re actually less-identified omnivores. How could it possible? Can someone here clarify this issue?

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10 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Environmental pressures sometimes require animals which are herbivores to supplement their available food supplies to obtain essential nutrients they need to survive during hard times. Despite lacking the ideal teeth and possessing a digestive system better adapted to processing plant matter, they apparently can get the required nutrients from animal protein sources.

This is comparable to children with calcium deficiencies eating chalk.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I agree with you for that(also came with the same thought). But as we know,without the proper instrument to do unusual specific thing it would be nearly impossible for such creature. The needs to fulfill its nutritional requirement itself isn’t enough to turn a creature from a natural herbivore to an omnivore. Can an elephant in extreme condition eat meat? I don’t think so.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Animals that live in extremely challenging environments may have long been under selective pressure to cope with alternate nutritional sources. Animals living in marginal environments have be somewhat more adapable.

Typically elephants have access to their usual diet. Population sizes may drop when predating increases or drought reduces food supplies. Elephants do not usually live in marginal environments in the way arctic hares do.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I agree with that. But what I’m not sure is why some people consider hares as omnivores while others(mostly authorized) consider hares as herbivores? I want to know if there’s other scientific adjustment for this creature(I want to know their real position;herbivores or omnivores). Anyway,Thank you for your adds! I appreciate it!

Buttonstc's avatar

This is in a slightly different context but stupid humans in factory farming operations have forced cows to be other than total herbivores.

By grinding up the bones and waste parts of other animals and making it into feed pellets, they have literally forced cows to eat a diet they wouldn’t normally consume.

This is how the organism causing spongeiform encephalitis (responsible for “mad-cow disease”) eventually made it’s way into humans.

” It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature” became more than just a clever advertising slogan, much to our detriment.

And, come to think of it, Margarine proved to be a lot more unhealthy than simply using moderate amounts of butter. No wonder they’re not using that commercial anymore—interesting irony.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@Buttonstc I must admit that is also a good information.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Red deer in Scotland have been known to eat seabird chicks.

Your_Majesty's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille Interesting. That is also an add to the fact about herbivores and their real position in nature. Thank you for your information.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Doctor D- You’re welcome :)

SmashTheState's avatar

Almost no animal will pass up meat if it’s available to them. It’s simply too valuable as a source of energy for them to avoid it, even if their digestive system can only make partial use of it. A horse or cow, for example, will eat mice if they happen to catch one.

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