What are Carnivores?
Carnivores are relatively long lived animals, most living more than a decade. Some seals are know to live over forty years.
Some carnivores eat things other than other animals; and some non carnivores eat meat. Giant Pandas eat mainly vegetation. Bears & racoons eat both plants and animals. Some seals are filter feeders. Most are carnivorous though.
A common distinguishing characteristic however is that most have characteristic enlarged teeth (ie. fourth upper premolar; and first lower molar); which work together to effectively cut and shear off pieces of meat and tendon. Together these teeth are called the “carnassial pair”
Some carnivores (eg. Bears, racoons and seals) have secondary modifications to the “carnassial pair” making them different to the typical carnivore animal.
All carnivores also have incisors (teeth in the front centre). The third incisor is frequently enlarged and more conical shaped.
The skulls can vary between species, but have a relatively large brain case.
Most tend to be medium size animals -if too small they wouldn’t be big enough to overpower & kill prey. Males are commonly larger than females. Most have highly developed senses. Hearing and sight is often better than in humans.
Mating can be polygynous, monogamous or polygynandrous. Solitary species (eg. Bears & cats) are often polygynandrous, living alone most of the time and coming together only during mating season with multiple partners. Some, particularly in colder climates are seasonal in breeding; but others may breed at any time. Some can have as many as two or three litters a year. Gestation periods can vary from just over a month in weasles to fifteen months in a walrus. Litters can vary from one to fifteen, but mostly not more than five.
Many carnivores are built to move fast. Aquatic carnivores tend to be very good swimmers, and many terrestrial carnivores are agile and fast runners. Even some like bears that may appear clumsy at times, are actually capable of bursts of fast speed.
Carnivores are hosts to a diverse variety of both internal and external parasites (including protazoans, nematodes, fleas, lice and ticks)
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