Carnivora is an order of mammals that contains upwards of 280 species. We all love the big guns that make this group so awesome — lions, tigers, bears, wolves, hyenas, and the like. But these enigmatic species are not the only fascinating creatures in this group of animals.
Although the name Carnivora suggests they primarily eat meat, this isn’t always true — in fact, many species are omnivores and insectivores. Here are some of the animals that deserve more attention than they currently get. Do you know all 10?
10. Malay Civet
The Malay civet, also known as the Malayan civet and Oriental civet, is a cat-like animal that is native to the Malay Peninsula and islands of Borneo, and the Philippines, among others.
The civet is actually an omnivore, supplementing its diet of insects and small vertebrates with fruit.
These nocturnal creatures are widespread throughout much of South-East Asia. Despite their cat-like appearance and behavior, civets are not felines. They are more closely related to other small carnivores such as weasels and mongooses.
9. Sloth Bear
Grizzlies and polar bears are amongst the most popular members of Carnivora, but what about the sloth bear? Unlike brown and black bears, sloth bears have lankier builds, long, shaggy coats that form a mane around the face, long, sickle-shaped claws, and a specially adapted lower lip and palate used for sucking insects.
Also known as the labiated bear, this endangered animal primarily feeds on insects such as bee colonies and termite mounds.
They are found across the Indian subcontinent, as well as Sri Lanka.
8. Spotted Linsang
And now for a very elusive species. Footage of these animals is rare — this clip of a lingsang from Thailand shows they are nocturnal … and very shy.
The linsang has a varied diet, feeding on rodents, lizards, birds, insects, and small mammals.
The hunting behavior of the spotted linsang is unique — it slithers across the floor slowly, being mistaken for a python from time to time!
They are endemic to South Asia.
A perhaps more well-known animal, the aardwolf is closely related to hyenas. Unlike its laughing relatives the aardwolf doesn’t hunt large animals, instead feeding on insects — mainly termites. What termites lack in size, the aardwolf makes up for in quantity.
They can eat up to 250,000 termites in a single night!
They are found throughout SubSaharan Africa.
6. Sunda Stink Badger
Stink badgers do what it says on the tin — they look like badgers and they smell like skunks.
They are actually in the skunk family (Mephitidae), which is a subdivision of the mustelids, which is a superfamily of the Carnivora order.
They are constrained to the western islands of the Malay Archipelago, so again, there is little known about them compared to most species.
Sunda stink badgers have an unusual diet, feeding on carrion, eggs and insects.
They are found in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, and the northern Natuna Islands.
5. South American Coati
Also known as the ring-tailed coati (for obvious reasons), these small mammals are related to raccoons, and excluding the face this resemblance is apparent. These animals are found from the South Western U.S. states all the way to Argentina.
The diet of coatis is pretty varied, but notable mentions go to tarantulas and crocodile eggs. Pretty brave animal.
4. Northern Olingo
The olingo is another member of Carnivora closely related to raccoons, but this one is much less widely distributed. Being limited to some Central American countries, this tree-dwelling animal usually inhabits mountainous areas over 1,000 meters above sea level.
This animal is our only vegetarian — the olingo feeds almost exclusively on fruit such as figs. Does it sound like a contradiction to say this animal is a vegetarian, and also a member of the order of Carnivora? Nope! Remember, ‘Carnivora’ is a scientific classification, with a different meaning from the colloquial terms ‘carnivore’.
This carnivoran is native to Central America.
Now for a feline species…
The “tiger cat” is native to South and Central America, mainly active during the night.
In stark contrast to the olingo, the oncilla is an obilgate carnivore, and needs small mammals, eggs and the like to keep going.
2. Raccoon Dog
The raccoon dog is not closely related to the raccoon at all, and gets the “raccoon” part of its name just from its resemblance to our furry friends. This is a canid, being more closely related to wolves and dogs.
Another non-fussy eater, the raccoon dog munches on rodents, birds, insects, but to name a few.
1. Maned Wolf
At number 1, we have something that looks like it belongs in a Van Helsing film. This fox-wolf-deer hybrid of an animal is called the maned wolf. The largest canid of South America, this lanky creature is not a wolf or a fox (and certianly not a deer).
In fact, it is not closely related to any other extant species, and is in its own genus: Chrysocyon (meaning “golden dog“). The maned wolf feeds on rabbits, birds, rodents, and even fish.