Animals that eat only plants are called herbivores.
Deer, grasshoppers and rabbits are all herbivores. There are lots of
different plants and lots of different herbivores. Some herbivores eat
only part of a plant.
What's the Buzz?
Honey bees take nectar from flowers for energy. When bees gather nectar,
they pick up pollen on their fuzzy bodies. As bees travel from flower
to flower gathering nectar, they leave some pollen behind. Pollen left
behind pollinates flowers and helps these plants reproduce. Bees have a symbiotic relationship
with the flowers they pollinate. A symbiotic relationship is one that
benefits both living things; for example, bees get the nectar they need
and the flowers get pollinated!
are often very easy for herbivores to find, but they are sometimes low
in the nutrients the animals need to grow and stay healthy. Seeds are
often packed with energy-rich nutrients like starches, but other parts
of plants -- like stems and leaves -- don't have as many nutrients.
Herbivores that rely on those plant parts must spend a lot of their time
grazing and browsing to get the nutrients they need!
Chewing It Over
Some herbivores have digestive systems to help them get the most out of the plants they eat. Animals like sheep, moose, white-tailed deer and cows have a special stomach called a rumen where microorganisms break down cellulose. Animals with a rumen are called ruminants.
Ruminants swallow their food and then regurgitate it and chew on it
again to break down the cellulose in the plant. Once the cellulose is
broken down, the food returns to the stomach where it is digested. When
you hear that an animal is chewing its cud, it is re-chewing food that
it had already swallowed!