Introduction

Nonruminant, noncamelid, herbivorous mammals are a varied and robust group. Examples will be provided (in parentheses) throughout this article to aid in illustration of the point at hand. They range from some of the smallest mammals (mice) to the largest (elephant). They live in mountains (hyrax), prairies (zebra), trees (colobus monkey), jungles (tapir), deserts (kangaroo rat), rivers (hippopotamus), and underground (rabbit). They are solitary (hyrax) or participate in complicated social groups (mole rat). They hop (kangaroo), gallop (horse), swim (manatee), tunnel (mole rat), and fly (fruit bat). They have long gestations with single births (elephant), or short gestations of several offspring (gerbils). Many are feral, some have long histories of human domestication (horse, rabbit), and others are popular pets (mice, hamster). Their main and often exclusive source of food is plants fruit, nectar, flower, seed, stem, leaf, root, bark, and sap. Within species, the food source can be wide and versatile (porcupine, rhinoceros), or narrow and specific (koala, panda, gibbon). Pandas are classified as carnivores, but subsist mainly on plant parts. This article discusses differences among herbivorous mammals, and explores commonalities among them and among other animals as well.

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