How do animals that are strictly carnivorous or herbivorous make up for the missing components of their diet?


Assuming these animals have requirements for vitamins, minerals, proteins etc. similar to people. How do they get by if these things aren’t present in their diet?

In: Biology

Some components can be made in the bodies of animals but not in humans thats why we need to have a more diverse diet

>animals have requirements for vitamins, minerals, proteins etc. similar to people.

They don’t have the same requirements, they have their own requirements fulfilled by the diet they’re adjusted to.

For example cats don’t need vitamin C, they make their own, while humans need some from food or they get scurvy.

On the other side, couple of aminoacids cats need only come from animal proteins, so it’s impossible to make a vegan diet for them, but it is possible for humans, all the aminoacids we don’t synthesize are available in some plant or another.

There are no “missing components”. Each animal has developed to handle different nutritional requirements in different ways. For example, rabbits are more or less entirely herbivorous, and so lack a good source for vitamin B-12 in the foods they eat. However, they have an excellent source of vitamin B-12 being produced by the microorganisms living in their lower intestines. The lower intestines cannot absorb that B-12, so they simply ingest their own leavings periodically.

Or take cats. They require 22 amino acids. 11 of these they must consume, but the rest they can synthesize if necessary. Two of the ones they cannot synthesize (the “essential” amino acids) are found only in animal flesh, making cats “obligate carnivores”; they must consume flesh in order to be healthy.

Even the common cow is well-adapted to its diet. A cow “chewing its cud” is just a cow chewing grass or other fodder that it has regurgitated, having previously eaten in and allowed it to ferment in its “rumen”, sometimes erroneously referred to as its first stomach. Of course, by the nature of grazing, they also ingest ants and other insects, which add to their nutrient inventory.

There are also some examples of animals that are generally regarded as herbivorous eating animals; deer, for example, have been observed eating fledgling birds out of nests, presumably in response to calcium deficiency.