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Carnivora (Carnivores)

The order of Carnivora includes over 280 species of mammals worldwide, including cats, canines, bears, members of the raccoon family, weasel family, and marine mammals, among others.

Mammals in the order of Carnivora can be found all over North America, living in habitats underground and above ground and in oceans and seas.

Carnivora comes from the Latin caro “flesh” and vorare “to devour. Carnivorans include common animals such as grizzly bears, raccoons, ocelots, and wolves.

Members of the order Carnivora are called carnivorans. The word carnivore applies to all meat-eating animals. Some carnivorans are omnivores or herbivores, eating plant matter and meat.

Carnivorans come in many sizes. The smallest member of the order is the least weasel, with the polar bear being the largest.

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Members of the order have claws with no less than four toes on each foot. Their teeth help them to hunt and catch other animals. All members share the same arrangement of teeth.

While some carnivorans will hunt and live together in packs, others live solitary lives, only coming together to mate.

Carnivorans have a simple stomach compared to some other animals, such as ungulates. This is due to them living primarily on a meat-based diet.

List of Carnivora in North America

Temperate Cats

Tropical Cats


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Coyote (L), Wolf (R)

Smaller Foxes

Larger Foxes



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White-nosed Coati

Aquatic Mustelids

Big Mustelids


Spotted and Hog-nosed Skunks

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American Hog-nosed Skunk


Otariid Seals

Northern Fur Seal
Northern Fur Seal

Phocid Seals

Grayish Seals

Big Seals


Although there are many species in the order of Carnivora, there are only two suborders. These are the cat-like Feliformia and dog-like Caniformia.

The modern classification scheme divides the order of Carnivora into sixteen living families. In North America, these include Felidae, Canidae, Mustelidae, Ursidae, Odobenidae, Otariidae, Phocidae, Mephitidae, Mustelidae, and Procyonidae.

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Suborder Feliformia

Family Nimravidae: False saber-tooth cats (Extinct)

Aeluroidea: Cats, mongoose, Hyenas, and Civets (Extinct)

Family Nandiniidae: False saber-tooth cats (Extinct)

Infraorder Feloidea

Family Felida: Cats

Family Prionodontidae: Asiatic Linsangs (Not found in North America)

Family Barbourofelidae: Felines (Extinct)

Genus Haplogale

Genus Stenogale

Infraorder Viverroidea

Family Viverridea: Civets (Not found in North America)

Superfamily Herpestoidea (Not found in North America)

Family Eupleridae: Malagasy carnivorans (Not found in North America)

Family Hepesidae: Mongooses and allies (Not found in North America)

Family Hyaenidae: Hyenas and aardwolf (Not found in North America)

Family Lophocyonidae: Feliformia (Extinct)

Family Percrocutidae: Hyena-like (Extinct

Suborder Caniformia

Family Amphicyonidae: Bear-dogs (Extinct)

Suborder Canoidea

Family Canidae: Dogs and allies

Infraorder Arctoidea

Superfamily Ursoidea

Family Hemicyonidae: Dog-bears

Family Ursidae: Bears

Pinnipedia: Seals

Family Enaliarctidae: Pinniped (Extinct)

Family Odobenidae: Walrus

Family Otariidae: Eared Seals

Family Phocidae: True Seals

Superfamily Musteloidea

Family Ailuridae: Red Panda (Not found in North America)

Family Mephitidae: Skunks and stink badgers

Family Mustelidae: Weasels and allies

Family Procyonidae: Raccoons and allies