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11 Amazing Animals That Eat a Lot of Food

a small animal that eats a lot

11 Amazing Animals That Eat a Lot of Food

We all have that friend that eats enormous food portions but never puts on weight.

If there was such a competition, my buddy could probably go pro. My friends and I always compare his ability to eat so much with different big animals.

Out of curiosity, I started researching animals that eat a lot of food.

I came across some fascinating animals. To my surprise, not only do big animals eat a lot but there are also tiny ones that eat a tremendous amount of food.

List of Animals That Eat a Lot of Food

  • Blue Whales
  • Hummingbirds
  • Burmese Pythons
  • Giant Pandas
  • Elephants
  • Tigers
  • American Pygmy Shrews
  • Locusts
  • Bar-tailed Godwits
  • Tasmanian Devils
  • Black-footed Cats

Blue Whales

a big blue whale swimming underwater

Scientific Name: Balaenoptera musculus
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Unsurprisingly, as the largest animal ever existed, the blue whale has a massive appetite. These aquatic creatures eat a lot of food.

The average blue whale eats 16 tons of krill in a single day! In a single mouthful, they can consume around half a million calories (not ideal for most diet plans).

While this sounds like a lot if you consider that a blue whale weighs roughly 200 tons, 16 tons of food per day is proportionally not that much.

Even though they are undeniably massive, measuring approximately the same length as three school busses, they are actually relatively slender, streamlined animals.

Krill, the tiny crustaceans that make up a blue whale’s diet, are high in protein and low in fat, as well as a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Perhaps the “blue whale diet plan” isn’t so bad after all?


Hummingbird feeding on nectar

Scientific Name: Trochilidae
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Omnivore

On the other end of the dietary spectrum is the hummingbird. Their diet consists primarily of nectar, which has little nutritional value.

In fact, nectar is essentially sugar water (fortunately, hummingbirds do not have any teeth to rot). While a highly high-sugar, low-everything-else diet would be catastrophic for humans.

However, this type of food is essential to the survival of hummingbirds. This is because they have one of the highest metabolic rates of any living creature.

Their wings are capable of flapping over 80 times per second. Their hearts need to beat some 20 times per second just to keep up.

Because they expend so much energy in flight, they need to consume roughly twice their own body weight every day in order to stay alive!

In addition to nectar, these tiny birds also feed on mosquitoes, ants, spiders, beetles, and gnats. 

Burmese Pythons

a Burmese Python on the ground

Scientific Name: Python bivittatus
Type of Animal: Reptile
Diet: Carnivore

The Burmese python may not eat as frequently as some other animals, but when it does, it does not hold back.

These massive snakes can grow to around 23 feet (7m) and weigh up to 200 pounds (90 kg), making them some of the largest snakes in the world, along with the anaconda.

Like most snakes, the Burmese python has a relatively slow metabolism, so it only needs to feed once every two weeks. These meals are enormous, though.

Burmese pythons have been known to eat goats, deer, and even alligators! They eat their prey whole, bones, teeth and all, and can eat animals around 50% of their own size in one sitting.

Interestingly, unlike most other animals, the python’s prey does not need to be fully inside its stomach for it to begin digesting. It can start digesting the prey as soon as it enters and can break down bones, teeth, claws, and scales (lovely!).

The entire digesting process usually takes around 5-6 days, which explains why it doesn’t get hungry more than once a fortnight.

Giant Pandas

a panda eating in the woods

Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore

These 200-300 pound bears are, indeed, quite giant, though not that large for a bear. However, unlike other bears, their diet is highly specialized.

In fact, just about the only thing giant pandas eat is bamboo. Bamboo is not very nutritious and is very difficult to digest.

Even giant pandas, whose diet is 99% bamboo, can only digest about 20% of it. In other words, they need to eat an awful lot of it to stay alive.

A giant panda spends, on average, 12 hours a day eating and can eat up to 15% of its own body weight in that time.

The better part of the rest of their day is spent sleeping and digesting. This does not sound like the most well-adapted way of life, and, indeed, it isn’t.

Giant pandas are bears from the Order Carnivora, i.e., meat-eaters. Their digestive system is not typical of an animal that eats 99% plant matter but rather of one that consumes a fair amount of meat.

Related: What Animals Eat Bamboo?

These black and white creatures have somehow managed to survive in a very specific evolutionary niche, which, unfortunately, makes them highly dependent on their environment. The biggest threat to some 1,500 giant pandas left in the wild is the destruction of the bamboo forests which they need to survive.


an elephant eating leaves from a tree

Scientific Name: Loxodonta
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Herbivore

Speaking of animals that eat a lot of food, the elephant, the world’s largest terrestrial animal, has an enormous appetite. However, unlike the blue whale, the elephant’s diet is not exceptionally nutritious and is rather hard to digest.

Like most other animals that eat plants, elephants cannot digest much of their food. In fact, they only digest around 50% of the food they consume.

Similar to the giant panda, elephants need to eat a lot of it. An elephant can eat about 350 pounds (158 kg) of food per day and travel up to 12.5 miles (20  km) to find it.

Elephants eat bark, grasses, fruit (if they are lucky enough to find it), twigs, shoots, and leaves.

Unfortunately, due to habitat destruction, they sometimes come into contact with humans in their search for food and have been known to eat entire crop fields in one sitting.

This leads to conflict with humans, which rarely ends well for the elephants or, indeed, any other animal.


a white tiger with food in its mouth

Scientific Name: Panthera tigris
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

Tigers are hypercarnivores, which means that their diet consists of over 70% meat. In the case of tigers, like other big cats, they are almost exclusively carnivorous.

Meat is highly nutritious; however, acquiring it takes a lot of energy. Tigers can weigh up to 660 pounds (300 kg), and much of that is muscle.

These strong big cats are ambush predators, capable of explosive bursts of immense power. They also roam over large areas, sometimes walking or swimming tens of miles in a single day.

As such, tigers need to consume a lot of high-nutrient food. An adult tiger can eat up to 100 pounds (45 kg) in one sitting, though they generally do not eat again for another day or two after such a large meal.

Tigers will eat anything worth their time, including small animals such as hares or monkeys and much larger ones, such as buffalo, crocodiles, and even bears.

On rare occasions, tigers have even been known to attack elephants and rhinoceros!

American Pygmy Shrews

Scientific Name: Sorex hoyi
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Insectivore

This tiny animal eats a lot of food! The American pygmy shrew is the second smallest mammal globally but has one of the largest appetites for its size. 

It has an exceptionally high metabolism and needs to consume around three times its body weight every day just to stay alive. This results in feeding every 15-30 minutes! 

If pigmy shrews were to go an hour without eating, they would starve to death. 

As such, the American pygmy shrew cannot afford to do much with its time besides eating and only sleeps a very few minutes at a time.

One reason for its fast metabolism is its size. Because it has such a large surface-area-to-volume ratio, it loses heat extremely easily, requiring it to burn more calories to avoid hypothermia.

American pygmy shrews are insectivores, which means their diet is rich in protein and highly nutritious.


a close up photo of a locust

Scientific Name: Schistocerca gregaria
Type of Animal: Insect
Diet: Herbivore

There is a reason why the phrase locusts are often associated with “plague.” A locust needs to eat its own body weight every single day.

Considering this is only 2 grams (a fraction of an ounce), this does not sound particularly impressive. However, where one locust exists, there are often many, many more.

Desert locusts hatch only under certain environmental conditions, which do not often come around. The result is that all of them hatch at once, creating swarms of billions of individuals.

Between them, these swarms consume hundreds of tons of vegetation, devastating entire agricultural systems and threatening economies throughout the world.

A swarm of locusts can stretch across over 40 miles (65 km) of land and will eat everything in its path.

Bar-Tailed Godwits

Bar-Tailed Godwit walking on the beach sand

Scientific Name: Limosa lapponica
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

The bar-tailed godwit has a relatively normal diet for most of the year, except before migration.

This bird has the longest migration of any animal, traveling over 6,800 miles (11,000 km) from Alaska to New Zealand every year. This journey takes them roughly ten days of non-stop flying.

To make this incredible journey, bar-tailed godwits need to have a sufficient food reserve.

In preparation, they consume enough food to essentially double their body weight in fat (luckily, they do not wear clothes and have to size up their entire wardrobe every year).

Tasmanian Devils

an angry Tasmanian Devil baring its teeth

Scientific Name: Sarcophilus harrisii
Type of Animal: Bird
Diet: Carnivore

Talking about animals that eat a lot, the Tasmanian devil is a must mention.

These carnivorous marsupials are widely known for their fearless personalities. No matter the size of the opponent, they are always ready for a fight.

Apart from their ferocious characters, Tasmanian devils have extremely powerful jaws. Powerful enough to crush bones.

They will use this physical ability to eat almost anything they sink their teeth into – from birds, and snakes to mammals, small kangaroos, and even carrion.

An average Tasmanian devil weighs about 20 pounds and will eat 2 pounds of food per day. However, if they are unsure when they will catch their next meal, these small predators will eat up to 40% of their total body weight in one sitting!

In addition, these greedy creatures are so voracious that they are capable of eating all of that food in less than 1 hour.

Black-Footed Cats

Scientific Name: Felis nigripes
Type of Animal: Mammal
Diet: Carnivore

The last member on our list of animals that eat a lot is the black-footed cat.

This feline may look small and cute, but it is a deadly hunter with a huge appetite. Their unusually high metabolic rate makes them almost constantly hungry and in need of food.

These tiny cats make roughly 10 to 14 kills every night, or once every 50 minutes. And they are actually among the most efficient hunters in the world and undoubtedly the most efficient in the cat family.

Black-footed cats have a hunting success rate of over 60%, which is around three times that of a lion. Unlike lions and tigers, black-footed cats need to eat daily to support their fast metabolism since the prey they consume is tiny.

Because they make so many kills, they expend a lot of energy, so they need more food, which is something of a vicious circle.

Related: What Animals Eat Dead Animals?

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