What eats grass? Grass is a major food source for a huge number of animals, including wild creatures, insects, and even animals you can keep as pets! But not many animals can live on grass alone. Today we’ll share the pets, farm animals, creepy crawlies and wild creatures that eat grass. We’ll look at how much of their diet is made up of grass and what else they need in the way of nutrition.
- What eats grass?
- Wild animals that eat grass
- Farm animals that eat grass
- Cute animals that eat grass
- Insects and bugs that eat grass
- Pets that eat grass
Animals that eat grass vary in shape, size, and general appearance! Some are exclusively herbivores, but some omnivores also eat grass as a regular part of their diet. Whether you’re wondering what wild animals eat grass, or what eats grass that you could keep as a pet, we’ve compiled a list of 25 different animals that eat grass as part of their regular diet!
What Eats Grass?
Some animals live on diets exclusively made up of different grasses. But, it’s more common to find animals that eat a variety of plants, or even grass, insects, and meat. Animals that feed only on plant matter are known as herbivores. But, animals that need a wider diet of plant matter, meat, eggs, and so on, are known as omnivores.
The nutritional composition of grass will vary depending on the type of grass you examine. For instance, one study found that green orchard grass had higher levels of fiber than other types of grass included in the research. So, not all animals that eat grass will benefit from the same types of grass.
Grass eating animals can be found all over the world – some even in our own homes! The types of grass and amount of grass each animal eats will differ depending on their habitat and needs. But, no matter what your reason for learning what eats grass, we’ve included a wide variety of creatures in today’s guide! Let’s get started by looking at some of the more exotic animals that eat grass.
Wild Animals that Eat Grass
Wild animals are those that aren’t living domestic lives as pets. There’s a huge range of wild animals across the world that feed on grass. But, not all of them will have exactly the same nutritional needs. And, because of their differing habitats, many will feed on different types of grass. In many cases, wild animals won’t feed exclusively on grass.
This isn’t an exclusive list. There are so many wild animals that feed on grass, even as a small part of their regular diet. But, here are 5 to start things off.
The typical image of a zebra is herds of striped animals grazing on grassy plains, alongside wildebeest and buffalo herds. Zebras are African mammals found in the East and South of the continent. They come from the same genus as horses and donkeys, which are much more likely to be domesticated!
Zebras feed on a wide variety of grasses, as well as leaves and other plant matter. They can stray over huge areas to get the food they need. Zebras are herbivores, so they will only need plant matter to survive and remain healthy.
There are 5 species of rhinoceros. These animals are large and grey with distinctive horns on their noses. In the wild, rhinos can be found in parts of Africa and parts of Asia. They’re powerful animals that can weigh over 3 tons, despite their diet consisting only of plants!
As herbivores, rhinos consume a wide variety of plants. The exact plants they eat will vary depending on their species and on their habitat. But grasses make up a large part of their diet, along with leaves, fruits, and so on. Rhinos are grazers, so they spend most of their waking day eating!
Another large, wild animal that eats grass is the hippopotamus! Hippos are found in Africa and spend a lot of their time in water, submerging themselves to keep cool. In fact, hippos spend so much time in water that they’re known as amphibious animals.
Hippo diets are primarily herbivorous. They graze on short grasses, but will also eat fruits and other vegetation. Until recently, hippos were considered obligate herbivores – meaning animals that only eat plant matter. But, studies found that hippos also feed on the carcasses of other animals.
4. Western Grey Kangaroo
Like other types of kangaroo, the western grey kangaroo comes from Australia. From a glance, this type of kangaroo might look just like other varieties. But, they are distinguished by finer hair on their muzzle. In the wild, this kangaroo will be found in grasslands and forests.
Western grey kangaroos are herbivores that feed on coarse grasses and other plant matter, like shrubs and even tree bark. The exact makeup of their diet will depend on the habitat that they live in.
The final wild animal that eats grass we’ll include in this guide is another large one – the elephant! Like the rhino, elephants can naturally be found throughout parts of Africa and Asia. But, sadly poaching and habitat loss have threatened elephant numbers.
Elephants feed on a huge variety of plants, including grasses. But, as well as grass, they might eat tree bark, leaves, herbs, and fruits. Like many other wild, grass-eating animals, their exact diet will vary depending on their habitat and the season.
Farm Animals that Eat Grass
It’s not just wild animals that eat grass! Grazing is common among animals that are kept on farms. Plenty of farm animals are herbivores that benefit from a wide variety of plants, including fibrous grasses. So, let’s take a look at some farm animals, or animals common on farms and ranches, that eat grass.
Perhaps this is the most obvious answer to the question “what eats grass”! Cattle are grazers that eat a huge amount of grass every day. In some cases, grass will make up over half of a cow’s daily diet! Cows will often graze on grass in fields and pastures where they are usually kept. But grass and hay can also be found in their feed, which is provided by farmers.
Cows have a complex digestive system that is capable of breaking down the nutrients in grass, particularly the high levels of fiber.
Sheep are another very common farm animal. They are most often kept on farms for their meat, milk, and wool. And, they’re kept on farms all over the world, found in Asia, Europe, Africa, and more!
Sheep are herbivores. So, like many of the other animals on this list, they feed on a wide variety of plants. Sheep are grazers that will spend most of their day chewing at grass, weeds, shrubs and other plants. Grass makes up a large portion of a sheep’s diet.
Horses are an agricultural animal that can be farmed, used on farmland, or kept to ride. Though horses can vary in shape and size, one thing they have in common is their diet.
Like many other farm animals, horses are grazers. They thrive on a high-fiber diet. As a high-fiber food, grass and hay will often make up the majority of a horse’s diet.
The American bison is often farmed for its meat, hide, wool, and dairy. American bison are now more common on farms than they are in the wild. Though European bison are more frequently free roaming than farmed.
Bison thrive on diets that include hay and grass. They, like other grass-eating farm animals, are grazers that will eat little and often throughout the day. The amount of grass compared to other vegetation that a bison eats will depend on the availability of each, and on the season.
Goats are most often farmed for their meat or their milk. There are over 300 breeds of goat, so the exact type seen on farms can really vary. They are clever and inquisitive animals that tend to live in herds. Like sheep, goats can be found on farms and homesteads in most parts of the world.
Grass will usually make up part of a goat’s diet, but they will not feed on grass alone. Instead they will graze on and forage a wide variety of plants, including weeds, shrubs, tree bark, and leaves.
Cute Animals that Eat Grass
A lot of the animals that we’ve look at so far are pretty cute. But, there are so many cute animals that eat grass in the world that we had to dedicate an entire section to them! It was hard to narrow down our 5 favorites, but here are five adorable animals that eat grass.
Capybaras are adorable mammals that live in America. They are semi-aquatic, meaning they are adapted for life on land and in water. Capybaras are also part of the same rodent family as guinea pigs, which are a much more common domestic pet.
These mammals are herbivores, so they can survive on plant matter alone. Grass often makes up a large part of their diet. But, they will also feed on other plants and vegetation that can be found beside and in water.
Deer are cute and gentle animals that can live in a variety of habitats across the world. This includes mountainous areas, green forests, and even wet rainforests. Appearance and traits vary depending on the species of deer, but the majority of bucks are able to grow antlers.
Deer are herbivores, like many of the other animals on this list. The exact vegetation and plants they eat will depend on the season, but also on their habitat. Deer in mountainous terrain won’t eat exactly the same thing as deer living in forests. But, most deer will eat grasses and other green vegetation when it is available to them.
Voles are perhaps the smallest mammal on our list! These rodents can look quite similar to hamsters, but have a longer tail and stouter body. They are also known as meadow mice or field mice. These tiny herbivores tend to live in well-covered areas, like fields.
As herbivores, voles will only eat plants and plant matter. They feed on grasses, plant roots, vegetables, fruits, and tree bark. But, their feeding patterns are often opportunistic. They adjust their diet based on what’s available, scavenging when it’s safe to do so – when no predators are around!
Quokkas are adorable, small marsupials that come from Rottnest Island in Australia. They have a short tail that contains fat reserves for times when food is hard to find! These little animals have furry bodies, dark eyes, and a cheerful expression!
Quokkas are herbivores that mainly feed on grasses and other plants. Seeds, roots, succulents and shrubs can also be part of their regular diet. But, like many other animals on this list, their exact diet will depend on availability.
5. Green Sea Turtles
We’re going in a slightly different direction with this cute grass eating sea creature. The green sea turtle is a large turtle, most often found in tropical and subtropical waters.
Green turtles are actually the only herbivorous turtle species. Though they start life as omnivores, they transition to completely plant-based diets as adults. But, the main types of grass they eat will be seagrasses. Alongside this, they eat algae, seaweed, and other sea-based plants.
Insects that Eat Grass
We’ve looked at a wide range of creatures that eat grass so far. But, did you know the answer to “what eats grass?” can also include insects? In fact, if your lawn is looking a bit patchy, insects could be to blame! Let’s take a look at 5 insects that enjoy eating grass.
The clue is in the name with our first insect! Grasshoppers are herbivorous insects with powerful back legs. Grasshoppers will feed on a large range of plants and vegetation, and can be considered a pest among farmers and others trying to grow their own crops, particularly when found in swarms.
Grass isn’t a main portion of the grasshopper’s diet. Instead, they will eat leaves, flower buds, stems, seeds, and grains. But, many will also eat grass, particularly when other types of plants aren’t available.
2. Grass Skippers
Grass skippers are a type of butterfly, that are also known as banded skippers. These butterflies are one of the largest subfamilies of the skipper butterfly. As caterpillars, these skippers will feast on a range of grasses, leaves, and plants. Which is why so many skippers live in areas where grass is abundant!
Cutworms are the caterpillars of certain moths, and can be a real pest for gardeners. These little caterpillars live in soil and eat plants by cutting them at the base of the stem. Grass is not a major part of their diet, but is an option if other plants and vegetables are not available.
Billbugs are a type of weevil that can also cause a lot of destruction in your yard. As larvae, these insects eat grass stems, which can lead to patchy lawns that struggle to regrow. As these insects grow, they usually move on from eating grass to eating other plants, which can be just as frustrating!
5. Sod Webworms
Sod webworms are another insect whose larvae can damage your lawn. When they grow, these webworms will transform into brown moths. But, until then, they will feast on grasses. If you notice brown, uneven patches appearing in your yard, it could be a sign that you have webworms.
Pets that Eat Grass
Most of the animals we’ve looked at so far are not ones that you’ll have much contact with outside zoos and nature reserves. Even the insects can be pretty uncommon depending on where you live in the world. But, there are plenty of domestic animals that eat grass that you can keep as a pet. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular pets that eat grass.
Rabbits are herbivores that come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. Some are cheeky and energetic, but others are gentle and affectionate. With all the variety available, there’s a bunny breed that will suit most homes!
Rabbits thrive on a diet that includes fresh grass and fresh hay daily. Not only does the fiber benefit their overall health, but fibrous grass helps to grind down their ever-growing teeth. Just be wary of any overhead predators if you let your rabbit loose in your yard! Cats and birds of prey won’t hesitate to swipe a pet bunny away!
On top of grass or hay, rabbits enjoy eating weeds, green plants, vegetables, and fruits. They’ll benefit from a wide range of greens and veggies in their daily diet.
2. Guinea Pigs
Guinea pigs are very similar to rabbits in terms of their dietary needs. Every day, they should have access to plenty of fresh hay or fresh grass. Like bunnies, the fresh grass or hay will help them prevent overgrown teeth, which can lead to health issues like ulcers.
Guinea pigs are personable little pets that are happiest when kept in pairs or groups. They’re popular pets for families and individuals alike. And, like rabbits, they’ll enjoy a wide range of veggies and greens on top of their fresh grass or hay.
Ducks aren’t the most common pet on this list, but nonetheless they can be a great option. In the wild, ducks will eat grass, other plants and veggies, and the insects and small creatures that live amongst them. If you have free-roaming ducks, they’ll likely be the same in your yard, eating whatever looks the tastiest!
Grass likely won’t be a major part of their diet. But, many ducks will eat grass, plants, and aquatic vegetation to get some key nutrients.
Most domestic chickens will be fed a commercial feed and scraps from the house. But, if you let your chickens roam in your yard, or a safely enclosed portion of the yard, they will eat most things! Like ducks, their diet can include grass, plants, insects, small creatures, flowers, and so on.
Chickens can’t live on grass alone. So, you can’t just let them into your garden and leave them alone. Not only does this leave them vulnerable to predators, but could also lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Dogs are yet another common domestic pet that can eat grass surprisingly frequently! They are omnivores that eat a wide range of foods. But, when you go on walks, or let your dog into the yard, you might notice them munching at grass or other plants.
Though some people believe that eating grass is a sign your dog is unwell, studies researching the matter suggest it is a normal behavior and is usually not indicative of any problems. It could instead be a sign that your dog is hungry, bored, or just likes the taste of grass! Just be wary of any plants in the grass or area that could be toxic to your dog.
What Eats Grass?
As you can see, there are tons of animals that eat grass, either as a major part of their diet or just as a small part! We’ve briefly looked at 25 animals that eat grass in this guide, but there are plenty of others out there. Can you think of any other animals that eat grass we can add to this list?
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References and Resources
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- Gursoy, E. (et al), ‘Determining the Nutrient Content, Energy, and in Vitro True Digestibility of Some Grass Forage Plants’, Emirates Journal of Food & Agriculture (2021)
- Novellie, P. & Gayard, A. ‘Long-Term Stability of Grazing Lawns in a Small Protected Area, the Mountain Zebra National Park: Original Research’, Koedoe (2013)
- Gregers Buk, K. & Knight M. ‘Seasonal Diet Preferences of Black Rhinoceros in Three Arid South African Parks’, African Journal of Ecology (2010)
- Dudley, J. (et al), ‘Carnivory in the Common Hippopotamus Hippopotamus Amphibius: Implications for the Ecology and Epidemiology of Anthrax in African Landscapes’, Mammal Review (2015)
- Wattiaux, M. & Howard, W. ‘Digestion in the Dairy Cow’, Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development
- Cutress, D. ‘Is Buying Bison Better than Beef? – Alternative Livestock Option for the UK’, Farming Connect (2021)