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Photo: Nick Hobgood,

As you know, all living things have to eat food. Whether you are a clown fish or a tiger, food is a necessity! Many different types of animals share habitats and live in communities together. Many times, one type of animal will be a source of food for another type of animal in a community.

Within a food chain, some living things are producers and some are consumers. Plants are producers, as they make their own food (using sunlight, soil, and other elements). Animals are consumers because they have to eat other animals and plants.

Photo: Mike Baird,


There are four different types of consumers in the animal kingdom. A carnivore is an animal that only eats other animals. An herbivore is an animal that only eats plants. An omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and animals. A scavenger is an animal that eats dead animals.

The diagram to the left is an example of two food chains. A food chain shows the order that animals eat each other in a community. In the image to the left, you can see what animal or plant is food for another animal in its community. For instance, the food chain with the eagle shows how a leaf is food for a grasshopper, which then becomes food for a hungry mouse. The mouse is food for a snake, which is then eaten by an eagle. In this way, all of these animals are connected. 



What happens to a food chain when the number of animals in a community changes too much? Sea otters can help us understand the answer to this question. Sea otters are needed members of the ocean community because they eat sea urchins. In places where there are low numbers of sea otters, the number of sea urchins increases too much because they are not being eaten by sea otters. As a result, the sea urchins eat too much of a food called kelp, which destroys many ocean communities because many ocean creatures rely on kelp to survive. This proves how sea otters are not only cute but needed members of their communities.

Words to Remember

Photo: Hans Hillewaert,

Habitat: A place where an animal lives that gives it the food, shelter, water, and other elements it needs to survive. Community: Two or more types of animals that live in a habitat together. Producers: Living things that create their own food to survive, like plants. Consumers: Animals that have to eat plants or other

animals to survive. Carnivore: An animal that only eats other animals. Herbivore: An animal that only eats plants. Omnivore: An animal that eats both other animals and plants. Scavenger: An animal that eats dead animals. Food Chain: Shows the order that animals eat each other in a community  

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Food Chains  
Food Chains