What Animals Eat Both Producers and Consumers?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

Earth is a diverse planet with many different ecosystems. With its food chains, food webs, plant life, insects, and animals, it is the only planet in our solar system that can sustain life.

A food chain refers to the order of events in an ecosystem in which one living organism eats another organism, and later that organism is consumed by another larger organism. The flow of nutrients and energy from one organism to another at different trophic levels forms a food chain.

This article will explore the different animals that eat producers and consumers in a food chain. 

Before we can answer what animals eat producers and consumers, we must first ask ourselves:  What are producers and consumers?

What Are Producers?

A producer in an ecosystem is an organism that produces its food, such as plants and algae. Producers typically use the sun’s energy to make glucose via photosynthesis.

What Are Consumers?

Consumers are living things that have to hunt, gather and eat their food are called consumers. Consumers have to eat to gain energy, or they will die. There are four types of consumers: omnivores, carnivores, herbivores, and decomposers.

What Are Omnivores?

Animals that only eat plant material are consumers and are called herbivores, while animals that feed on herbivores are called carnivores.

An omnivore is an animal that can eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber and metabolize the nutrients and energy of the sources absorbed.

Animals that eat both producers and consumers are omnivores. 

Facts About Omnivores

An animal that eats both plants and other animals is classified as an omnivore. There are two types of omnivores; those that hunt live prey: such as herbivores and other omnivores, and those that scavenge for already dead matter. 

Unlike herbivores, omnivores cannot eat all types of plant matter, as their stomachs cannot digest certain substances found in grains or non-fruit-producing plants.

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Where Can Omnivores Be Found?

From the polar bears of the Arctic to the squirrels of North America, omnivores can be found in all climate types, and generally can assimilate well into life with human neighbors. It’s not unlikely to find omnivores, ranging from rats to seagulls to skunks, living with and scavenging off the humans in their communities.

Do Birds Eat Producers And Consumers?

When we think of birds, we might only think of them as herbivorous or as eating plants and seeds. However, many birds are omnivores. Let’s take a look at these birds and their diets.

  • chickens – feast on corn, wheat, barley, and insects
  •  corvids (crow family) – enjoy insects, fruits, and meats
  • emus – dine on acacia seeds, grass, and caterpillars
  • hummingbirds – eat flowers, sap, insects, and spiders
  • ostriches – eat roots, seeds, lizards, snakes, and rodents
  •  robins – include worms, insects, and fruit in their diet
  • seagulls – eat a range of grains, berries, and small mammals
  • starlings – enjoy eating insects, seeds, and fruit
  • woodpeckers – like nuts, seeds, berries, and insects

Mammals That Are Omnivores

  • aardvarks – mostly eat termites but can eat fruits for water
  • badgers – mostly eat earthworms but will eat fruits
  • chipmunks and squirrels – dine on grains, seeds, and insects with the occasional bird egg
  • foxes – primarily carnivorous animals but can eat berries and fungi
  • hedgehogs – feed on insects, snails, grass, and melons
  • mice and rats – can eat anything but grains, seeds, meat, and cheese
  • pigs – dine on a variety of foods from small animals to fruits and flowers
  • raccoons – eat plants like berries and meat like rabbits and insects
  • skunks – change diets depending on the season but eat both fruits and insects
  • sloths – feed on fruits and insects

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Insect, Reptile and Fish Omnivores

  • spider beetles – scavengers that feed on dead insects and plants
  • ants – feed on insects, honey, nectar, and dead animals
  • box turtles – eat plant matter and insects
  • catfish – night feeders that eat aquatic plants and mollusks
  • cockroaches – scavengers that feed on meats, sweet foods, and paper
  • crickets – eat small insects, leaves, and nectar
  • flies – feed on nearly anything, including blood
  • opaleyes (fish) – primarily feed on algae but also consume invertebrates during grazing
  • pygmy grasshoppers – feed on plants and animal tissue
  • piranhas – consume fruits, seeds, insects, and carcasses
  • wasps and yellow jackets – munch on insects and plants

Primates That Eat Producers and Consumers

  • aye-ayes – feed on grubs and fruit
  • galagos (bushbabies) – like to eat insects but also eat sap and seeds
  • gibbons (lesser apes) – forage for fruits and insects
  • great apes – primarily herbivorous, eating fruits and seeds but can eat other animals
  • monkeys – dine on a variety of fruits, nuts, insects, and lizards

Are Humans Omnivores?

Human beings are omnivores. The best evidence is our teeth: we have biting/tearing/ripping incisors and canines (like carnivores) and chewing molars (like herbivores). Animals with such diverse teeth tend to be omnivores.

Most people are omnivores since they eat fruits, vegetables, and grains from plants and meat and dairy products from animals. Dogs, bears, and raccoons are omnivores.

People eat plants, such as vegetables and fruits. We also eat cooked animals (meat), or use them for products like milk or eggs.  

Final Thoughts

It does not matter the classification, whether it is herbivore, carnivore or omnivore, producer or consumer, we all form part of the bigger picture.  Each link plays a role in a food chain and an even bigger ecosystem.  

Without one link, the others will not survive.

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