Ten Mammals That Are Omnivores


Omnivorous mammals are animals that feed on both plant and animal matter. Omnivores have adapted to derive nutrients and energy from plant and animal food sources. They can digest proteins, carbohydrates, fats and fibre. Some omnivorous mammals can incorporate into their diet, fungi, algae and bacteria.

If you want to know about plant eating herbivores, I have written an article which you can read here.

American Black Bear

The black bear is smaller than the other common North American bear species. They are an adaptable mammal that will eat whatever is plentiful. For this reason, they eat both vegetation and meat.

Black bears may consume up to 85% vegetation as part of their diet, especially if it is readily available. Throughout the year they browse on a wide variety of plants such as grasses, roots, buds, nuts, seeds, berries and other fruits.

Black bear

The black bear loses a large portion of its fat and weight. Once the winter season is over, the black bear will try to gain back all the lost weight. To do this, they will change their diet.

They prefer protein-rich foods from meat sources. These will include young moose, deer and elk. Black bears will also feed on carrion. This bear derives some protein from incorporating insects into its diet too.

Ever wondered where you can see black bears. You can find out hereOpens in a new tab. in this article I have written.

Gray Fox

Gray foxes are capable of eating both plant and animal matter. Gray foxes consume a considerable amount of plant matter.

During the summer, the diet of a gray fox is made up more of plant material and fruits than during the winter months.

The gray fox has a preference for fruit. They roam around looking for fruits that are ripe and readily available. 

The favorite plants in their diet consist of apples, grapes, and persimmon.

The gray fox mainly favors meat, and this makes up a substantial part of its diet. In the winter months, they eat more meat than they do in the summer. The gray fox preys on voles, rabbits, mice, shrews and birds.

Squirrels

Squirrels are opportunistic feeders and not shy to feed on almost everything they can find. The diet of a squirrel mainly consists of nuts, seeds and fruit.  

If their usual food sources are limited, they will feed on small birds, insects, bird eggs and small rodents.

Feeding habits of a squirrel depend on the availability of food. Squirrels are primarily herbivorous, but over time they have become quite adaptable to different situations and habitats.

Preferred foods for squirrels are nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, roots, bulbs, bark and fungi. Squirrels spend their time foraging about searching for food. 

The squirrel stores food for the winter.

During different seasons, the conditions change, and food can become scarce. In this case, squirrels are forced to eat whatever they can find. Due to this, squirrels are classed as omnivores as they will change their diet.

When hunger strikes, these little creatures will eat whatever they can find. Their diet can include flowers, insects, tree bark, leaves, grass, and birdseed. Squirrels will also prey on baby birds and eat eggs if they happen to find them.

Since they have such a diverse palate, squirrels in urban areas may invade people’s homes and eat pet food. If you leave pet food outside, squirrels will eat it. Squirrels are also known to go through garbage bins, eating whatever they can find.

I saw some squirrels chasing each other recently and I wanted to find out why. If you want to know, I have written an article which you can find hereOpens in a new tab..

Chipmunks

Chipmunks are speedy creatures that come from the same family as the squirrel. Like the squirrel, they also have an omnivorous diet. 

A significant part of their diet is made up of vegetation including seeds, nuts, berries, mushrooms, buds, along with other fruits. Aside from these, chipmunks also feed on bird’s eggs, baby birds, insects, small frogs and worms.

Chipmunk
Chipmunk

Chipmunks have a similar digestive system to a squirrel. These small mammals are unable to digest cellulose. As they cannot digest cellulose, they rely on an omnivorous diet. 

Chipmunks forage all day searching for nuts, leaves, seeds and fruits on the ground. However, once in a while, chipmunks will climb up trees to look for more food. If a chipmunk happens to find newly hatched birds, they will eat them, especially when food is scarce. 

Raccoons

The North American raccoon can easily be identified by its hairless front legs which closely resemble slim human hands. 

Raccoon

The raccoon is classified in the order Carnivora. However, their diet is omnivorous, as they eat vegetation as well as meat.

The vegetation that raccoons eat is varied. Part of a raccoon’s diet includes citrus fruits, berries, acorns, apples, beechnuts, figs, walnuts, corn and wild grapes. 

Raccoons also eat meat, with the diet consisting mainly of invertebrates with a smaller amount of vertebrates.

raccoon

Raccoons like to search for food in water sources. This is often mistaken with them washing their food before eating it. Raccoons manipulate their prey as they feed, and a frog in the water makes a tasty meal.

Favorite raccoons treat comprises of fish, crayfish, insects, bird’s eggs, worms and molluscs. 

Raccoons also live in urban areas. Here they will scavenge around people’s homes and garbage. Urban raccoons are more than willing to eat whatever they can find, and pet food left in the garden will be eaten.

For more information on these cute animals, I have compiled 101 facts which you can find hereOpens in a new tab..

Grizzly Bears

Grizzly bears are classified in the carnivore order. However, they eat a wide variety of food items derived from both plants and animals. 

Grizzly bears are well adapted to survive every season. They hibernate through the winter months. They emerge from their dens at the beginning of spring, but the food supply is usually minimal at this time. Most of the vegetation is still without leaf, and only a few kinds of grass are available in the lower elevations. 

Grizzly bear with fish

Grizzly bears will consume almost everything they come across, including nuts, berries, leaves, fungi and roots. Their diet also includes fish, especially spawning salmon in northern regions of the continent.

Grizzly bears forage on the sunny slopes looking for dead animals to scavenge. If lucky, then will find moose, elk or deer that didn’t make it through the winter.

As more plants sprout in spring, the grizzly bears spend more time feeding on roots, lily bulbs and other starchy vegetation. 

They have powerful long claws to dig out deep roots and tubers. Bears will also eat salmon carcasses from the fish that died after spawning. 

In the summer, the bears are most likely found near wet meadows, along rivers, marsh edges and in wetland areas. They favor these areas because of the abundance of plants and grasses. 

Grizzly bears also have a liking for fruits such as blueberries and huckleberries, which they consume in large quantities.

Fall is usually a critical period for grizzly bears as they strive to pack on plenty of fat. They also use this time to stock up on energy to take them through the winter season. 

The amount of food gradually dwindles, succumbing to frost. Bears that live on the coast tend to feed on the spawning salmon that provides them with much-needed proteins and fats. 

Grizzly bears are not avid hunters, but they are capable of taking down moose, bighorn sheep, elk and deer. They will not risk injury by avoiding healthy adults. They will instead prefer to prey on small calves or injured animals. 

Grizzly bear

Grizzly bears wander through various habitats looking for carrion left by other animals.

Do you know what a pizzly bear is? If not, I have written an article which you can find here.

Red Fox

Red foxes have a diet that consists of rodents, insects, eggs, birds, fruits and various small mammals. Although classified in the order Carnivora, the red fox is willing to consume almost anything it can find.

Red foxes are avid hunters and tend to pounce on their prey. The red fox has a liking for small rodents such as voles, rabbits and field mice. The way they hunt does not limit their diet because they also feed on earthworms, grasshoppers, amphibians, fish, small reptiles and molluscs. Red foxes will eat carrion from other animals as well as hunt young deer.

The red fox feeds on less plant matter compared to the gray fox. The red fox is known to eat fruits, roots and some species of grasses. 

Their preferred fruits and seeds include grapes, plums, acorns, apples, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries. Red foxes will sometimes graze on tubers like potatoes and some flowering plants. 

Red foxes are excellent at surviving in cold conditions. If you want to know how, you can read an article I have written here.

Opossum

The opossum is a mammal that has the most diverse diet. They are omnivores surviving on vegetation as well as meat as the primary food sources. 

The staples of an opossums diet mostly consist of smaller rodents, insects, worms, snails, frogs and birds.

Opossums consume vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts. They will also eat a variety of grasses for nutrients. 

Opossums in urban areas are not shy of perusing garbage cans. Anything they find that is edible, they will consume.

Ever wondered why opossums play dead. You can find out here in this article I have written.

American Badger

The American badger, out of all the species of badger, is the most carnivorous. They eat small mammals such as ground squirrels, gophers and chipmunks.

They are adapted for fossorial activity, digging their prey out of the ground.  They have several adaptations for this type of activity, including small ears, sharp claws, and a long snout.

Badgers will cache food they catch for later.  A video surfaced in March 2017 of a badger burying a whole calf carcass by itself.  University of Utah biologists were trying to capture footage of vultures and other avian scavengers, but captured some amazing footage of the incident. This is the first known instance of a badger burying an animal larger than itself. 

There is a great article by the University of Utah which you can find here.

Here is the amazing footage of a badger burying an entire cow.

The badger spent five days burying the 50-pound carcass.  The badger then went back to the carcass over the next two months.  

Badgers also eat earthworms, insect larvae, fruit, vegetables and plant bulbs.  Favorite fruit includes apples, pears, plums and elderberries.  

Badgers will also seeds, acorns and nuts, and will also crops of sweetcorn and wheat from farmers fields.

Badgers are a nuisance to both farmers and gardeners as they can do a lot of damage.

Skunk

We all know that skunks can smell bad, but this is not to do with their diet.  Skunks are omnivores, eating a variety of fruits, plants and meat.  They will eat a variety of food to get enough varied nutrients 

Skunks eat fruit such as apples, pears, bananas, berries and melons.  

Skunks will eat larvae, earthworms, frogs, snaked, birds, moles, lizards, grubs, rodents and also bird eggs.

Skunks in urban areas will seek out garbage left by humans and can be a nuisance in gardens.  Pet food left out for pet cats and dogs can be a tasty snack for a wild skunk.  

Skunks can also be found scavenging on carrion and roadkill.

Ever wondered why skunks spray. You can find out here in an article I have written.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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