Many wild animals animals such as alligators, snakes and birds of prey eat meat as part of their diet. Frogs and even some plants eat meat in the form of insects. These life forms are carnivorous ( flesh-eating or predatory) but are not technically carnivores.
So What Are Carnivores?
True carnivores, of the Order Carnivora, are all mammals with fur. They give birth to live young, and nurse them on milk from the mother. Their digestive systems are designed for processing meat, not plant matter, and they have sharp teeth and claws to capture their food. Their energy and nutrient requirements are obtained from eating meat.
Carnivores generally have eyes that face forward, providing binocular vision and depth perception to hunt down prey. In contrast, the grass eaters they prey on have eyes set on the sides of their head, giving them a 360 degree field of vision to watch for predators as they graze.
Some carnivores, such as the raccoons and bears, eat a great deal of plant matter – berries, fruit, roots – but are still classed as Carnivores.
The Order Carnivora contains over 260 species which range in size from the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) who weighs as little as 25 grams (0.88 oz), to the 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). They are found on every continent except Antarctica.
A complete list of carnivores in the Order Carnivora consists of 245 species, divided into 13 families.
Felidae – Cats
Wildcat, Chinese Mountain Cat, Black-footed Cat, Sand Cat, Jungle Cat, Leopard Cat, Pallas’ Cat, Flat-headed Cat, Rusty-Cat, Fishing Cat, Marbled Cat, Bay Cat, Asiatic Golden Cat, Serval, Caracal, African Golden Cat, Geoffroy’s Cat, Oncilla, Northern Oncilla, Margay, Ocelot, Kodkod, Pampas Cat, Andean Cat, Eurasian Lynx, Iberian Lynx, Bobcat, Canada Lynx, Jaguarundi, Cougar, Cheetah, Snow Leopard, Clouded Leopard, Diardi’s Clouded Leopard, Tiger, Lion, Leopard, Jaguar
Hyaenidae – Hyenas
Aardwolf, Striped Hyena, Brown Hyena, Spotted Hyena
Herpestidae – Mongooses
Small Indian Mongoose, Small Asian Mongoose, Short-tailed Mongoose, Indian Grey Mongoose, Collared Mongoose, Brown Mongoose, Crab-eating Mongoose, Ruddy Mongoose, Striped-necked Mongoose, Cape Grey Mongoose, Somali Slender Mongoose, Kaokoveld Slender Mongoose, Common Slender Mongoose, Egyptian Mongoose, Marsh Mongoose, Long-nosed Mongoose, White-tailed Mongoose, Bushy-tailed Mongoose, Jackson’s Mongoose, Black-legged Mongoose, Meerkat, Yellow Mongoose, Selous’s Mongoose, Meller’s Mongoose, Pousargues’s Mongoose, Somali Dwarf Mongoose, Common Dwarf Mongoose, Gambian Mongoose, Banded Mongoose, Liberian Mongoose, Angolan Mongoose, Flat-headed Cusimanse, Common Cusimanse, Alexander’s Cusimanse
Eupleridae – Madagascar Carnivores
Falanouc, Fosa, Fanaloka, Broad-striped Vontsira, Narrow-striped Boky, Ring-tailed Vontsira, Brown-tailed Vontsira, Grandidier’s Vontsira
Prionodontidae – Linsangs
Banded Linsang, Spotted Linsang
Viverridae – Genets, Oyans and Civets
Small-tooted Palm Civet, Golden Palm Civet, Brown Palm Civet, Sulawesi Palm Civet, Masked Palm Civet, Common Palm Civet, Binturong, Owston’s Civet, Banded Civet, Hose’s Civet, Otter Civet, Malabar Civet, Large-spotted Civet, Malay Civet, Large Indian Civet, Small Indian Civet, African Civet, Abyssinian Genet, Hausa Genet, Crested Genet, Servaline Genet, Giant Genet, Small-spotted Genet, Miombo Genet, Johnston’s Genet, Aquatic Genet, Rusty-spotted Genet, Cape Genet, King Genet, Pardine Genet, Bourlon’s Genet, Leighton’s Oyan, Central African Oyan
Nandiniidae – African Palm Civet
African Palm Civet
Canidae – Dogs
African Wild Dog, Ethiopian Wolf, Dingo, GreyWolf, Dhole, Coyote, Red Wolf, Golden Jackal, Black-backed Jackal, Side-striped Jackal, Arctic Fox, Red Fox, Kit Fox, Swift Fox, Indian Fox, Corsac Fox, Blanford’s Fox, Pale Fox, Ruppell’s Fox, Tibetan Fox, Fennec Fox, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Island Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon Dog, Chilla (Argentine Gray Fox), Darwin’s Fox, Sechuran Fox, Culpeo (Andean Fox), Hoary Fox, Pampas Fox, Crab-eating Fox, Short-eared Dog, Bush Dog, Maned Wolf
Ursidae – Bears
Giant Panda, Asiatic Black Bear, Andean Bear, Sun Bear, Sloth Bear, American Black Bear, Brown Bear, Polar Bear
Procyonidae – Raccoons, Coatis
Pygmy Raccoon, Northern Raccoon, Crab-eating Raccoon, Mountain Coati, South American Coati, White-nosed Coati, Ringtail, Cacomistle, Olingos, Kinkajou
Ailuridae – Red Panda
Mephitidae – Skunks and Stink Badgers
Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk, Molina’s Hog-nosed Skunk, Striped Hog-nosed Skunk, Striped Skunk, American Hog-nosed Skunk, Hooded Skunk, Souther Spotted Skunk, Eastern Spotted Skunk, Western Spotted Skunk, Pygmy Spotted Skunk, Palawan Stink Badger, Sunda Stink Badger
Mustelidae – Weasels, Badgers, Otters, Martens
North American Otter, Sea Otter, Marine Otter, Southern River Otter, Neotropical Otter, Giant Otter, Eurasian Otter, Asian Small-clawed Otter, Hairy-nosed Otter, Smooth-coated Otter, Spotted-necked Otter, Cape Clawless Otter, Congo-clawless Otter, Small-toothed Ferret Badger, Large-tooted Ferret Badger, Bornean Ferret Badger, Javan Ferret Badger, Sumatran Hog Badger, Northern Hog Badger, Great Hog Badger, American Badger, Eurasian Badger, Honey Badger, Wolverine, Patagonian Weasel, Lesser Grison, Greater Grison, Tayra, Striped Weasel, Libyan Weasel, Zorilla, Marbled Polecat, Yellow-throated Martin, Nilgiri Marten, Stone Marten, Pine Marten, Japanese Marten, Fisher, Sable, American Marten, Black-footed Ferret, Siberian Weasel, Steppe Polecat, European Mink, American Mink, European Polecat, Least Weasel, Stoat, Altai Weasel, Colombian Weasel, Long-tailed Weasel, Amazon Weasel, Yellow-bellied Weasel, Stripe-backed Weasel, Malay Weasel, Indonesian Mountain Weasel
Information from Carnivores of the World, Dr. Luke Hunter, Published by Princeton University Press 2011