San Dieguito River Valley ConservancySan Dieguito
River Valley Conservancy

What are carnivores?


If you said, they eat meat – you right! Carnivores are animals that eat meat. You might observe that this carnivore on the slide is enjoying a nice meaty treat in the form of a squirrel. As scientists, we can determine if an animal is a carnivore due to the specialized teeth, or sharp incisors, of the species that make it easier to tear through meat. You too have incisors on the right and left side of your mouth – granted probably not as sharp as these carnivores. However most humans also eat vegetables, thus we are considered omnivores and not necessarily carnivores.

Carnivores like this coyote are predators meaning they use their sharp teeth to hunt other animals or prey for food. Carnivores play a special role in the food web as predators in controlling prey populations. Without these carnivore predators keeping prey populations in check, the ecosystem might become unbalanced. Thus, it’s really important for scientists to study this animals to make sure ecosystems are healthy. But how do they do it, especially when many of these animals are scared of humans or might only come out at night?