Carnivorous mammals are animals that exclusively eat meat. Such animals are well adapted to feeding on flesh. They derive nutrients and energy from a diet consisting of animal tissue through predation or scavenging.
There exist two types of carnivores; obligate and facultative carnivores.
Obligate carnivores can also be referred to as true carnivores. They have a diet mainly composed of flesh and rarely consume plant matter.
Most cannot digest plant matter because they lack the required physiology for this process. If an obligate mammal happens to ingest vegetation, then it is only to induce vomiting.
In such a situation, the animal will bring out previously ingested foods that may be causing a stomach upset together with the vegetation. Facultative carnivores are animals that consume meat and also small amounts of plant matter.
The gray wolf is among the largest carnivores in the canid family. They prefer to feed on large hoofed animals such as moose, elk, deer, mountain sheep, and caribous.
Gray wolves are social creatures who travel in packs and hunt together. They take turns chasing prey to exhaustion before then finally killing it.
A single wolf can consume up to 20 pounds of flesh in one feeding. This mammal has a fantastic sense of smell and hearing. They pick up the scent of prey and then stalk it. When the right moment comes, the pack will pursue the victim, making the kill.
Gray wolves can run at fast speeds to catch prey. A wolf can run up to 35 miles in an hour. They have powerful limbs and claws to hold down the game. Wolves take down animals by latching onto the rump area.
The gray wolf also feeds on rodents, rabbits, beavers, and many other small mammals.
Polar bears are one of the most adaptable animals, considering the extreme conditions in which they live. They have specific physical characteristics to search and hunt for food in the arctic snow and ice.
Polar bears are avid carnivores, with their primary food consisting of seals. Ringed and bearded seals make up most of the opposite bear’s diet.
Polar bears are equipped with a unique sense of smell and sight. They can quickly locate a seal’s breathing hole even if it is one kilometer away.
After locating a potential meal, the bear walks stealthily towards the hole and lies in waiting. This can take up to several hours. The seal will sometimes breach the water in that particular ice hole. The bear will smell the seal’s breath and spontaneously launch an attack. They use their sharp claws to drag out the seal and bite into the skull to kill it.
Polar bears hunt seals, which are also resting on top of the ice. If they smell a seal nearby, they will stalk them, suddenly rushing forward to attack.
Besides seals, polar bears eat beluga whales, walruses, aquatic birds, reindeer, rodents, and caribous. Polar bears will also scavenge on carcasses that they find.
Coyotes belong to the dog family and are carnivores. Coyotes are facultative carnivores, adapting to incorporate plant matter into their diet. However, this is usually in minimal amounts and when meat-based food is scarce.
Coyotes are primarily carnivores and spend considerable time hunting various animals. A coyote’s staple diet consists of animal meat from deer, hares, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, birds, fish, and amphibians. They also scavenge on kills from other animals.
Coyotes are adapted to hunting prey. They have sharp teeth and claws for ripping and tearing flesh.
Additionally, coyotes have a keen sense of smell. They can easily catch the scent of prey even from a few miles away. Their hunting success is further aided by high running speeds of up to 40 miles an hour to catch up with a meal.
Mountain lions are considered generalist predators because they will catch and kill almost any animal that comes their way. While they are known to eat large mammals such as deer or moose, rabbits and other small animals are no exception.
Mountain lions have extraordinary leaping capabilities, which they use when catching prey. They will also use the ambush strategy to see their game unawares.
The mountain lion has to eat at least 10 pounds of meat in a single day. Mountain lions have to hunt to make a successful kill.
Mountain lions are primarily found in rocky and bushy areas since they make the best places for stalking. However, this animal has other hunting strategies. The large, wide paws enable it to walk and run efficiently in the snow. This means that it can hunt well, even in winter.
When mountain lion catches up to their prey, they use their sharp teeth that deliver a deep suffocating bite to the neck. This is enough to kill the game instantly or cause massive bleeding that will weaken it sufficiently.
Black-footed ferrets are long, slender mammals that rely on prairie dogs as their primary food source. They are exclusively carnivores and feed only on meat. Prairie dogs make up about 90% of the ferret’s diet, but they can also feed on other small animals.
In some regions, prairie dogs hibernate during the winter season. This means that the black-footed ferrets have a limited diet at this time. On such occasions, black-footed ferrets tend to feed on mice, rabbits, birds, voles, and ground squirrels.
Black-footed ferrets are nocturnal, hunting at night. They have enormous eyes with excellent vision, backed by a powerful sense of smell.
A combination of sight, smell, and hearing helps them hunt in the dark. Furthermore, they have sharp claws for attacking and holding onto prey during hunting sessions.
Black-footed ferrets have strong jaw and sharp teeth, enough to deliver a fatal bite that instantly kills the prey.
The weasel is a ferocious carnivore for its size. They are considered one of the most petite carnivores in North America and the world. The weasel is an adept predator, hunting both day and night tirelessly. Their ardent appetite fuels their rapid metabolism.
Their diet mainly consists of mice and moles. However, they also hunt down other small animals, such as rabbits, chipmunks, rats, and shrews. When their preferred prey is scarce, weasels are forced to gorge on frogs, fish, insects, and eggs.
This small mammal is an opportunistic predator and will rarely pass on the chance to prey on any small animal that comes its way.
Also, the weasel is known as a bloodthirsty and ruthless creature. They have a reputation brought about by how they eat and kill prey. They administer a fatal bite on the skull and feast on the brain.
The jaguar is a deadly predator and is known to eat over 85 species of animals. Jaguars are powerful and fatal carnivores as they can hunt on land and water.
Jaguars have a preference for large prey but will eat almost every animal that it finds. Jaguars will prey on deer, moose, armadillos, peccaries, rodents, turtles, and even birds.
Unlike other big cats, jaguars are excellent swimmers. They take advantage of this opportunity to catch and feed on fish and turtles. Jaguars can also climb trees. Jaguars climb trees and snatch monkeys or birds from their nests.
When a jaguar lives near a human settlement, it may prey on livestock, including cattle and sheep. This is the leading cause of conflicts between humans and jaguars.
The American badger is a carnivore feeding on ground squirrels, moles, marmots, pocket gophers, prairie dogs, woodrats, kangaroo rats, voles, deer mice, and pika.
American badgers also eat snakes as part of their diet and are significant predators of rattlesnakes.
Badgers also prey on lizards, amphibians, smaller skunks, carrion, and fish. They also prey on birds’ nests on the ground, such as sand martins. Badgers are nocturnal but can be seen in areas with low human populations during the day.
American badgers have been seen hunting in conjunction with coyotes. When animals see a coyote, they generally go into their burrow, whereas when they see a badger, they will come out of their holes. By working in tandem, the prey is unsure of what to do. Badgers expend less energy while hunting in caves than above ground.
Carnivores are not only restricted to the land but also survive in water. The walrus is a carnivore surviving on a diet of meat. They prefer mollusks such as clams. They will also eat gastropods, crustaceans, cephalopods, sea cucumbers, and other small, soft-bodied animals.
Walruses may also eat the carcasses of young seals when other food is scarce. Some walruses will eat seals, with bearded and ringed seals making up their diets.
Walruses eat up to 6% of their body weight daily, with some adults feeding on up to 6,000 clams in a single feeding session. It has been noted that walruses usually fill their stomachs twice daily.
Walruses forage on the bottom of the ocean, with most feeding occurring between 10-50m below the surface. They rely on their vibrissae (whiskers) to locate food in deep, murky waters.
The blue whale is considered a carnivore, the largest animal to have ever lived on Earth. They eat large amounts of krill, small shrimp-like animals. Krill usually grow between 1 – 2 cm, although they can grow up to 6 cm.
Blue whales are baleen whales. They filter their food through baleen plates, eating krill and copepods. They take in vast amounts of water with the food before pushing it back through the leaves using their tongues. This allows them to use the leaves to keep the water out while keeping the food inside.
A blue whale can eat up to 8,000 lbs of krill every day. This amounts to approximately 40 million krill per day. Blue whales have such large stomachs that filling their stomach would take an estimated 2,200 lbs of food.