Nutrition in Animals

Introduction to Nutrition

Unlike plants, animals cannot prepare their own food and are dependent on plants for getting their nutrients. They are dependent either directly, indirectly (in this case they eat other animals that eat plants) on plants or there are some animals that depend on both. Food serves as the fuel for all organisms ( plants and animals including humans).

They require it for their functioning, growth, and repair. Let us know more about how animals take in their food and utilize it for various processes and to meet their energy requirements. We will also get to know about the components of food and necessary nutrients.

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Components  Of  Food and Various Nutrients

The essential components of food include:

  • Carbohydrates: These are present in the form of sugars, starches, and cellulose. They are the major energy-providing nutrients made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
  • Proteins: Composed of a large number of small units called amino acids. Play an important role in growth and repair.
  • Fats: Act as stored reserves of energy and play a key role in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins are the complex organic structures of prime importance in the growth and nurturing of the body. They are not responsible for providing an energy. Essential vitamins include fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K and water-soluble vitamins like C and B-complex. Minerals are required only in minute quantities. Important ones include Iron, calcium, phosphorus, iodine, sodium, and potassium.
  • Fibre: It constitutes the indigestible material occurs in any food acting as roughage. It adds to the bulk of food and aids in digestion.

Complex nutrients such as carbohydrates are broken down into simpler substances which can then be readily utilized by the body. This process is known as digestion.

Modes of Intake of Nutrients

These include sucking, chewing, scrapping, siphoning, and swallowing. They vary from organism to organism.

Honey-bee sucking nectar for intake of nutrients


  • Sucking – Bees and birds like hummingbirds suck the nectar from plants
  • Chewing – Ants feed on food particles by chewing.
  • Scrapping – It is employed by snails to feed on leaves.
  • Swallowing-  Eagles and snakes like the python capture their prey and swallow it whole!
  • Siphoning – Butterflies suck on the nectar from flowers through siphoning.
  • Infants of humans and certain other animals depend on their mother’s milk for nutrition.

siphoning of nutrients in butterflies                             

Did You Know?

  • Egyptian vulture is the only bird that feeds on eggs and loves to munch on ostrich eggs!
  • Crocodile mommies never taught their young ones to chew their food properly. In fact, they never use their teeth to chew on food. They rely on their huge chompers to capture and grip their prey to death before gulping it!
  • The Japanese Macaque is a very hygiene conscious animal and prefers to wash their food before feeding on it!

Questions For You

Q1. What is the mode of intake of food in butterflies?

a. Siphoning           b. Sucking

c. Chewing             d. Swallowing

Ans: Siphoning. Butterflies use this technique to suck on the nectar from flowers.

Q2. What is the process of breakdown of complex compounds into small readily absorbable substances called?

a. Assimilation              b. Egestion

c. Digestion                   d. siphoning

Ans: Digestion. Digestion is the process of breakdown of complex compounds into readily absorbable smaller units.

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