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12 Examples of Hypercarnivores (With Pictures)

There are many animals that eat meat, but a hypercarnivore’s diet is 70% meat or more. If you’re curious about examples of hypercarnivores in the animal kingdom, you’ll find 12 carnivorous species below.

12 Examples of Hypercarnivores

Some animals can eat varied diets, but these creatures need meat in order to meet their nutritional needs. Many types of animals can be hypercarnivores, including reptiles, birds, and fish. All hypercarnivores eat meat, but these animals aren’t always predators. Some are scavengers that don’t hunt for food.

What kinds of animals are hypercarnivores? These are some of the many animals that primarily eat meat.

1. Alligators

Alligators in lake
Alligators in lake Image by Jim Degerstrom from Pixabay

These large reptiles can only be found in North America and China. Since alligators can’t swim in saltwater, they can only be found in freshwater habitats, like swamps, rivers, and wetlands. Thanks to their size, strength, and powerful jaws, alligators are apex predators.

An alligator’s diet changes as it grows. Young alligators mostly feed on fish, insects, and snails, but as alligators get bigger, they move on to larger prey. Adult alligators eat large fish, reptiles, and mammals, and have even been known to ambush bears and panthers!

2. Lions

Lions
Lions

The lion is a large cat that can be found in grasslands and savannas in India and Africa. Lions live in groups called prides, which typically consist of around 10 to 15 lions. Even though male lions are larger than females, groups of female lions hunt for food for the rest of the pride.

Lions feed on a variety of large mammals, including zebras, wildebeest, and giraffes. While lions will kill other predators when threatened, they usually don’t eat these animals. Lions are apex and keystone predators, but they still avoid hunting certain large animals like elephants and rhinoceroses.

3. Shrikes

shrike perched on a tall grass
Shrike perched on a tall grass | image by Yogendra Joshi via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

These medium-sized birds are known for violently attacking their prey. In fact, they’re sometimes called butcherbirds. While the majority of shrike species live in Africa, Asia, and Europe, two species can be found in North America.

Shrikes mostly feed on insects and usually impale their prey before they eat. This helps them to break down their food into smaller pieces that are easy to digest. Some shrike species, like loggerheads, will also grab insects by the neck and shake them to death.

4. Vultures

Turkey vulture
Turkey vulture

The vulture is a bird of prey that usually has a bald, featherless head. There are 23 vulture species, which are divided into two categories. Old World vultures can be found in Africa, Europe, and Asia, while New World vultures can only be found in North and South America.

Many hypercarnivores are hunters, but vultures are scavengers. They feed on the carcasses of animals, but will sometimes kill animals that are near death. A vulture’s stomach acid is extremely corrosive, and because of that, it can safely digest carcasses infested with bacteria.

5. Domestic Cats

Domestic tabby cat
Domestic tabby cat | image by Steve Johnson via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Dogs can feed on plants and animals, but the domestic cat is an obligate carnivore. This means that cats can only get the nutrients they need from meat. Domestic cats can be found all over the world, and there are more than 60 recognized breeds.

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The protein in cat food comes from a variety of sources, including fish, poultry, and beef. When cats are kept outdoors, they are avid hunters and frequently feed on birds. Indoor cats will also try to hunt and are known for killing mice.

6. Crocodiles

A crocodiles
A crocodile | Image by miniformat65 from Pixabay

The crocodile is a semiaquatic reptile that can be found in tropical habitats in North and South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Unlike alligators, crocodiles can be found in saltwater and freshwater habitats. Although crocodiles don’t form social groups, they’re very social reptiles and will sometimes feed together.

Crocodiles can apply more than 3,700 pounds of pressure with their jaws, giving them the strongest bite in the animal kingdom. They use their powerful jaws to grab onto prey and hold onto it until it drowns. There are some crocodile species that mostly feed on fish, but other species, like the saltwater crocodile, primarily feed on large mammals.

7. Dolphins

Alantic white sided dolphin breaching
Alantic white sided dolphin breaching | image by Anna via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

You can find dolphins in all kinds of aquatic habitats, including freshwater, oceans, and coastal environments. Dolphins are aquatic mammals that breathe oxygen through blow holes on the top of their heads. They’re known for their intelligence and their complex vocalizations.

People often think of dolphins as gentle, friendly creatures, but they’re active predators. Dolphins eat a wide range of fish and will also feed on crustaceans and squids. The animals they feed on have a high water content, and because of that, dolphins don’t have to drink water to survive.

8. Tigers

White tiger on log
White tiger on log | Image by SusuMa from Pixabay

The tiger is the largest of all cat species. While tigers were once found in many countries, they can only be found in 13 countries today.

70% of wild tigers can be found in India. Tigers thrive in forests, but can also be found in savannas, grasslands, and even swamp habitats!

Wild tigers mostly feed on medium to large animals, such as wild boar, sambar deer, and water buffalo. When food sources are scarce, tigers will also hunt for smaller animals, like monkeys, hare, and fish. Most tigers are nocturnal predators, but some tigers species are known to hunt in daylight.

9. Gharials

Gharial
Gharial | Image by Petr Stěhule from Pixabay

These crocodilians are known for their long, thin snout. They can only be found in Nepal and Northern India.

The gharial is one of the largest types of crocodilian and can grow to be more than 19 feet long. Unfortunately, these animals are classified as endangered.

Since gharials have slender snouts, they don’t have the jaw strength that crocodiles do. Since the shape of their snout makes it difficult for them to hunt for mammals, they mostly feed on fish. Young gharials will eat frogs, crustaceans, and insects.

10. Starfish

Starfish underwater
Starfish underwater | image by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr

The starfish is a marine animal that’s known for its unique shape. There are approximately 1,900 starfish species, and these invertebrates can be found on the seabed of every ocean in the world! Starfish don’t have brains, but they do have a complex nervous system.

Most starfish species are predators, but there are some types of starfish that are scavengers. Starfish have tiny suction cups on their bodies that they use to move and catch prey like snails and sponges. When it digests food, it moves its stomach outside its body through its mouth.

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11. Owls

Barn owl
Barn owl | Image by Jean van der Meulen from Pixabay

These nocturnal birds of prey can be found in a variety of habitats across the globe, including deserts, forests, and arctic tundra. There are more than 200 species of owl, which include true owls and barn owls. While owls are mostly solitary, a group of owls is known as a parliament.

All owls are hypercarnivores, but an owl’s diet can vary based on its species. Some owls mostly feed on fish, while others hunt birds and small mammals. Owls have many adaptations that make them effective hunters, including silent flight and sharp talons.

12. Spiders

Wolf spider on pebbles
Wolf spider on pebbles | image by Jean and Fred Hort via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

With over 50,000 recorded species, spiders are one of the most diverse animal orders in the world. All spiders have eight legs and spinnerets, but there are many differences between various species. Spiders can be found in all habitats but high mountains, oceans, and polar regions.

While spiders mostly feed on insects, larger spiders may also eat small vertebrates, like lizards and frogs. Some spiders catch prey in webs, but other species, like wolf spiders, are active hunters.