Frugivorous animals: characteristics and list of examples

Frugivorous animals create mutually beneficial interactions with trees and plants in their natural habitats. These interactions are influenced by a great dynamic of the community, contributing to continue generating and maintaining biodiversity on planet Earth. Birds, mammals, reptiles and other animal groups feed on a great diversity of fruits and seeds on a daily basis, thus favoring the dispersal of said seeds and, therefore, the maintenance of forests and other plant ecosystems in which they coexist. Thus, it is an interaction of vital importance, like each one of the different trophic relationships that are established in nature.

Frugivorous animals: characteristics

The fruit – eating animals are characterized by following a vegetarian diet based on fruit consumption . Sometimes exclusively, sometimes combined with other types of food (herbivorous or omnivorous ).

Each and every one of the frugivorous animals, as fruit consumers, performs a series of functions of great importance within the balance of the habitats and ecosystems in which they live. In this way, relationships are established between plants and this type of animals in which, both vertebrates and invertebrates, cover their nutritional needs based on fresh fruits, nuts, berries, legumes, cereals, etc. and plants, for their part, benefit from the seed dispersal that such fruit-eating animals carry out.

A great diversity of frugivorous animals, grouped as consumers with positive or negative effects, play a fundamental role in the ecological and evolutionary balance of the plant populations from which they obtain their food. Let’s see in more detail in the next sections which are the main groups of frugivorous animals and some examples of the most outstanding species.

Did you know that 1 in 4 mammals bases their diet mainly on the consumption of fruits? The animal kingdom or Animalia never ceases to amaze us, and represents the largest group of frugivorous animals. Due to the abundance of fruit trees and shrubs in many areas of the planet (mainly in tropical regions), many have been mammalswho have chosen to cover their nutritional needs with these delicacies loaded with vitamins and other benefits, among them, the dispersion of the seeds that are inside the ingested fruits. In this way, primates, tapirs, rodents and other mammals have teeth and jaws adapted to chewing the fruits, as well as other adaptations in their limbs (arms, legs and tails) to obtain a greater quantity of fruits and open them if necessary.

Some examples of the most representative species and groups of frugivorous mammals are:

  • Bat hammerhead 
  • Bornean orangutan 
  • Chimpanzees 
  • Gorilas
  • Guinea pigs 
  • Field Rabbits 
  • Squirrels
  • Lemurs 
  • Tapir amazónico 
  • Flying fox 
  • Zarigüella
  • Musarañas 
List of frugivorous animals – reptile examples

Another group in which there are frugivorous animals is that of reptiles . In fact, many reptiles have a varied omnivorous diet , within which they include the consumption of fruits, such as berries and fleshy fruits, which they ingest both in their natural habitats and in captivity, if they are living in reserves, zoos or even as pets.

The following reptiles are frugivores , although some include other types of foods in their diet:

  • Green Iguanas
  • Land turtles
  • Dragonfly 
  • Lawson’s dragon (
  • Eastern Bearded Dragon 

Beyond toucans (family Ramphastidae) and parrots (Psittacidae), a great biodiversity of frugivorous birds abounds in forests and parks in every corner of the planet. Mainly characterized by the presence of a strong beak that allows them to open the fruits and consume the pulp and / or seeds, birds that eat fruits are fully adapted to a varied frugivorous diet, from berries to nuts. Some of the best known examples of frugivorous birds are:

  • Common fat-billed 
  • Great tit 
  • Royal finch
  • Caspian Gull 
  • Atlas flycatcher 
  • Common wattle 
  • European Robin 
  • Colirrojo real 
  • Common blackbird 
  • European Goldfinch 
List of frugivorous animals – examples of invertebrates

Another group that has animals that eat fruit is that of invertebrates . However, among the frugivorous invertebrates , few species and groups choose this type of diet, since most are predators of other animals or plants, but without their own consumption of the fruits. However, the famous fruit fly ( Drosophila melanogaster ) and aphids are some of the invertebrates that do opt for a frugivorous diet. Within the aphids, various species have created a parasitic relationship with plants and trees from which they consume their stems, leaves and fruits. They stand out from them:

  • Oleander aphid 
  • Oak and holm oak aphids 
  • Rose aphid 
  • Cereal aphids 
  • Green-winged lacewing larvae (family Chrysopidae
Fish that are frugivores

Are there also frugivorous fish? The answer is yes, without a doubt, this type of diet has also reached throughout the evolution of species to aquatic ecosystems and some groups of fish. Although they are not strict frugivores, these fish combine the consumption of fruits with that of microcrustaceans, algae and larvae. Some examples of frugivorous fish are:

  • Vegetarian piraña 
  • Black Cachama 
  • Silver Dollar 
  • Tometes trilobatus
  • Utiaritichthys longidorsalis

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