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.
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
- Canadian Lynx
- Swift Fox
- Kit Fox
- Arctic Fox
- Red Fox
- Gray Fox
- Island Gray Fox
- Black Bear
- Brown Bear
- Polar Bear
- White-nosed Coati
- American Mink
- North American River Otter
- Sea Otter
- American Marten
- American Badger
- Least Weasel
- Long-tailed Weasel
- Black-footed Ferret
Spotted and Hog-nosed Skunks
- Western Spotted Skunk
- Eastern Spotted Skunk
- American Hog-nosed Skunk
- Striped Skunk
- Hooded Skunk
- California Sea lion
- Northern Fur Seal
- Guadalupe Fur Seal
- Steller’s Sea Lion
- Spotted Seal
- Harbor Seal
- Gray Seal
- Northern Elephant Seal
- Bearded Seal
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.
Family Nimravidae: False saber-tooth cats (Extinct)
Aeluroidea: Cats, mongoose, Hyenas, and Civets (Extinct)
Family Nandiniidae: False saber-tooth cats (Extinct)
Family Felida: Cats
Family Prionodontidae: Asiatic Linsangs (Not found in North America)
Family Barbourofelidae: Felines (Extinct)
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
Family Amphicyonidae: Bear-dogs (Extinct)
Family Canidae: Dogs and allies
Family Hemicyonidae: Dog-bears
Family Ursidae: Bears
Family Enaliarctidae: Pinniped (Extinct)
Family Odobenidae: Walrus
Family Otariidae: Eared Seals
Family Phocidae: True Seals
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
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.