There are many animals in the world that eat grass, from domesticated animals like cows, goats, sheep, and rabbits to wild animals like pandas, zebras and pronghorns. The grass is a nutritious food source, providing them with essential vitamins A and C and minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, protein, energy, and calcium.
Animals that eat grass often have strong digestive systems that can break down the tough plant fibers in the grass and extract all the nutrients to help them stay healthy and fit. Some animals, like cows and sheep, are able to digest grass better than others. That’s because they have a four-chambered stomach that ferments the cellulose in the grass, breaking it down into nutrients that are easy to absorb. .
9 Examples of Animals That Eat Grass
With some animals eating grass, it’s no wonder that grasslands are one of the most common biomes in the world. This article will discuss the different types of animals that consume this nutrient-rich plant and the benefits they receive from doing so.
Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Cute, cuddly, and bamboo-loving pandas are some of the most beloved animals in the world. Though often thought of as bears, pandas are actually a member of the raccoon family. These animals can be found in central China, munching exclusively on bamboo and lounging in trees. Despite bamboo’s tree-like appearance, it’s a fast-growing perennial grass that can grow up to four feet in a day.
Pandas often feed on young bamboo shoots during their mating season in the spring. These young shoots contain phosphorous and nitrogen, which are necessary for reproduction. The animals will also consume older, tougher bamboo leaves and stems when available.
Scientific Name: Lama Glama
Llamas are a type of South American camelid, and like their camel cousins, they are well-adapted to life in arid environments. Llamas are usually found in the Andes mountains, where they graze on a variety of grasses; clover, alfalfa, and dandelions. Additionally, llamas also eat other plants, including shrubs and cacti.
They play an essential role in the lives of indigenous people in the Andes, who use them as pack animals and for wool production. In recent years, llamas have also become popular as companion animals in the United States and Europe. Thanks to their gentle nature and amusing antics, llamas have found a place in the hearts of many people around the world.
3. Gopher Tortoises
Scientific Name: Testudinidae
Tortoises are hard-shelled reptiles found all over the world. Turtles like the gopher tortoise are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of plants and grasses. In the wild, these turtles live in scrublands where the soil is nice and sandy so that they may dig.
Gopher tortoises are one out of only a handful of tortoises that live east of the Mississippi River. They can be found in states like Florida, Georgia, and other surrounding states. Gopher tortoises are almost extinct in South Carolina and Louisiana.
Scientific Name: Trichechus
Manatees are large aquatic mammals, closely related to elephants. They can be found in shallow coastal waters throughout the world and are known for their docile nature and slow movements. Manatees are herbivores, and their diet consists mainly of seaweed and other aquatic plants.
With their slow movements and gentle nature, manatees are often referred to as the “cow” of the sea. Like cows, they spend the majority of their time eating grass.
In fact, manatees graze on an average of 100-200 pounds of seaweed and grass every day. Nevertheless, these gentle giants play an important role in the ecosystem, and their conservation is critical to the health of our planet’s oceans.
Scientific Name: Equus quagga
Zebras are easily recognizable thanks to their iconic black-and-white stripes. There are three main species of zebra: the Grevy’s, Burchell’s (plains), and the mountain zebras. Plains zebras are the most common and can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
The Grevy’s zebra is the largest species and is native to East Africa. Mountain zebras are the smallest and most endangered species, with a population of less than 10,000. All three species of zebra are herbivores and primarily eat grass. However, they also feed on leaves, tree bark, and shrubs.
Zebras have an interesting social structure and live in harems consisting of one stallion and several mares. Foals are born with brown-and-white stripes, which gradually turn black-and-white as they grow up. Zebra stripes are thought to provide camouflage from predators, as well as regulate their body temperature.
6. White Rhinoceros
Scientific Name: Ceratotherium simum
The white rhinoceros is the largest of all rhino species and can weigh up to two tons and measure over four meters in length. These massive animals are herbivores that primarily eat short grass, with 74% of their diet coming from four species of grass, including Panicum maximum, Themeda triandra, Urochloa mossambicensis, and P. coloratum.
White rhinos are found in southern Africa, where they graze on open plains. Today, there are only around 20,000 white rhinos left in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching.
White rhinos are relatively docile, social creatures that live in groups called herds. Females and their calves make up the majority of these herds, while males tend to live solitary lives except when mating. Interestingly, the white rhino is not white – its skin is grey. The ‘white’ in its name comes from the Dutch word for ‘wide,’ referring to the animal’s wide mouth.
Scientific Name: Antilocapra americana
The pronghorn is a species of ungulate native to North America. These animals are often mistaken for antelopes, but they are the only surviving member of the family Antilocapridae. Pronghorns are built for speed and can run up to 40 miles per hour!
These fleet-footed animals primarily eat grasses and shrubs but will also consume leaves, buds, flowers, and fruit when available. Their diet is so varied that it changes with the seasons. For example, in spring and early summer, pronghorns consume more forbs (a type of flowering plant), while in late summer and fall, they eat more shrubs.
Pronghorns are social animals that live in herds of up to 100 individuals. These herds are generally made up of females and their young, but males will join during the breeding season. Pronghorns mate for life and only reproduce every other year.
Scientific Name: Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
The capybara is a rodent of the family Hydrochoeridae. It’s the largest living rodent in the world, with a typical adult weighing between 35 and 66 kg (77 and 146 lb). The capybara inhabits Central and South America and is a popular exotic pet.
The capybara is a herbivore, and its diet consists mainly of grasses, aquatic plants, and fruits. Capybaras are grazers and prefer to eat tender, new growth. They will, however, eat almost any plant, including dried grasses and even bark.
Capybaras are social animals and live in groups of up to 20 individuals. These groups are called “herds” and are led by a dominant male. Capybaras are very vocal animals and communicate with each other using a variety of sounds, including grunts, barks, and clicks.
9. Red Kangaroos
Scientific Name: Macropus Rufus
Red kangaroos are the largest of all kangaroo species. They are found throughout Australia, inhabiting open grassland and woodlands. Red kangaroos are herbivores, and their diet consists of 57% fat-leafed saltbush (wet weight), 31% grasses such as Dicanthium and Enneapggon, and 12% round-leafed saltbush, Bassia. These beautiful creatures can survive prolonged periods of drought by conserving water and reducing their body temperature.
Red kangaroos are excellent jumpers and can leap up to 9 meters in a single bound. Interestingly, female red kangaroos often give birth to twins, but only one joey will survive to maturity.
The other joey will die soon after birth and be partially digested by the mother, providing nutrition for the surviving joey during its early development.