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Word of the Week: Omnivore

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Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Omnivore [ OM-nuh-vohr ] (noun): An organism that can feed on both plant and animal material.

This fun word comes from the Latin words omnis, meaning “all” and vora, from vorare, meaning “to eat or devour.”

When omnivores consume animal materials, some will hunt and eat their food like carnivores, eating herbivores and other omnivores. Others are scavengers and will eat dead matter. Many will eat eggs from other animals.

When omnivores consume plant materials, many consume fruits and vegetables but there are also certain limits on what kinds of plants they can eat. Unlike herbivores, omnivores can’t digest some of the substances in grains or other plants that do not produce fruit.

Skunks are omnivorous mammals that we are very familiar with in High Park! They eat insects, larvae, earthworms, grubs, rodents, lizards, salamanders, frogs, snakes, birds, moles, and eggs. They also commonly eat berries, roots, leaves, grasses, fungi and nuts.

It might surprise you to learn that bees are a part of a skunk’s omnivorous diet. In fact, skunks are one of the primary predators of the honeybee, relying on their thick fur to protect them from stings! They scratch at the front of the beehive and eat the guard bees that come out to investigate. This “bee-haviour” is something that mother skunks will teach their young.

On your next summer visit to High Park, keep an eye out for skunks and other omnivores!