examples of heterotrophs

What Are The Examples Of Heterotrophs? 

Before knowing the examples of heterotrophs, you should have an idea about heterotrophs. Heterotrophs are also known as consumers because they consume hosts or other consumers. Heterotrophs occupy the second and third levels in the food chain, a sequence of organisms that provide energy and nutrients for other organisms. All animals and non-photosynthetic plants are classified as heterotrophs since they are unable to prepare food. Humans and other vertebrates are dependent upon converting organic, solid, or liquid food into energy. Whereas, other organisms like fungi rely on converting dead organic matter into nutrients. Let’s move on to the examples of heterotrophs.  

What Is Heterotrophs? 

An organism that eats another organism is called a heterophase. It is a short but incomplete definition of heterotrophs. So, the actual definition of heterotrophs is, a living organism that eats other organisms for their energy source or uses plants to make their food. Animals are heterotrophs. What does it mean? So, Heterotrophic organisms are consumers in the ecosystem because they can not manufacture their own food. For instance, humans can not prepare their own food, but they use crops, fruit, and vegetables, for energy. 

There are three main types of heterotrophs, herbivores, carnivores and omnivores, and Detritivores. Herbivores are those who feed on organic matter like living plants. Carnivores and omnivores are those who feed on both plants and meat, and both types of heterotrophs occupy the third position in the food chain. Detritivores are those who feed on decaying organic materials such as dead plants and animal matter, and animal feces. 

Let’s know what are examples of heterotrophs in detail. 

What Are The Examples Of Heterotrophs? 

Before knowing the examples of heterotrophs, take a quick look over the list given below and then understand these examples in detail. 

  1. Heliobacteria
  2. Non-Sulfur Bacteria 
  3. Manganese-Oxidising Bacteria 
  4. Fungi 
  5. Humans 
  6. Protists 
  7. Carnivorous Plants 
  8. Herbivores 
  9. Carnivores 
  10. Omnivores 
  11. Detritivores 
  12. Protozoa  

12 Examples Of Heterotrophs? 

There are multiple examples of heterotrophs because there are tremendous plants and animals on the earth. Many plants and animals are still unknown to us and researchers are continuously studying such plants and animals. Below we have given more than 10 examples of heterotrophs.

1. Heliobacteria


Heliobacteria are photoheterotrophs and they require an organic carbon source in soils and are more abundant in water-saturated soils. They are anaerobic and are useful in the fertility of paddy fields. Anaerobic means those who don’t breathe and don’t need oxygen.

2. Non-Sulfur Bacteria Non-Sulfur Bacteria 

Non-sulfur bacteria are those who use organic acids but not hydrogen sulfide. There are purple and green non-sulfur bacteria. Purple uses hydrogen and makes up a variety of separate groups. Relatives include non-photosynthetic proteobacteria. There is no oxygen byproduct.

3. Manganese-Oxidising Bacteria

Manganese-Oxidising Bacteria Manganese-oxidizing bacteria is a chemoheterotroph using igneous lava rocks. It is much rarer than iron in the oceanic crust and not as much known. However, it is much easier for bacteria to extract from igneous glass.

4. Fungi


Fungi including mushrooms and toadstools, yeasts, and molds are heterotrophs that make up around 2% of the earth’s biomass and are their own kingdom of life.

5. Humans Humans 

Are animals autotrophs or heterotrophs? Animals including humans are not autotrophs but they are heterotrophs because they depend on other organisms to derive nutrition from them. Humans obtain nutrition from plants, and animals, hence called omnivores also.

6. Protists Protists 

Protists are unicellular organisms meaning they have only one cell, so you can not see them with your naked eye. You need a microscope to see them. Protists belong to the kingdom Protista and all of them are not heterotrophs. They can be autotrophs, heterotrophs, or micrographs. This is one of the great examples of heterotrophs in the ocean.

7. Carnivorous Plants

Carnivorous Plants 

Carnivores means those who eat meat. Now, you may be shocked by reading about carnivorous plants, where plants eat meat. Yes, some plants eat meat also. Carnivores plants attract, trap and digest animals for the nutrients they contain. There is currency around 630 species of carnivore plants known to science. Although most meat-eating plants consume insects, larger plants are capable of digesting reptiles and small mammals.

8. Herbivores


While looking for examples of heterotrophs in biology, you can not ignore a big group of heterotrophs which are herbivores. Examples of heterotrophs who are herbivores include elk, goats, cows, buffalo, zebras, sheep, parrots, elephants, squirrels, deer, moose, mice, yak, kangaroos, swans, manatees, chipmunks, honey bees.

9. Carnivores


Are carnivores autotrophs or heterotrophs? Carnivores are heterotrophs and they are lions, tigers, great white sharks, seals, polar bears, hawks, penguins, sneakers, frogs, herons, vultures, toothed whales, octopuses, and coyotes.

10. Omnivores


Omnivores means those animals who feed on both plants as well as meat. They also fall under the heterotroph category. The heterotrophs’ examples in the omnivores category include jerboas, box turtles, all great apes, galagos, toucans, wasps, raccoons, pigs, black bears, flies, brown bears, hedgehogs, piranhas, emus, humans, aardvarks.

11. Detritivores


The detritivores are also heterotrophs and they are millipedes, earthworms, fungi, springtails, bacteria, woodlice, ding flies, slugs, sea stars, sea cucumbers, fiddles, crabs, and polychaete worms.

12. Protozoa


Protozoa require carbon to survive and reproduce, hence they are chemoheterotrophs. Protozoa is an animal found worldwide in most habitats. Most of their species are free living, but all higher animals are infected with one or more species of protozoa.

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What Is A Heterotroph With Four Examples?

Heterotrophs are organisms that consume other organisms for energy. Animals, fungi, and many protists and bacteria are heterotrophs. They use the process of cellular respiration to turn their food into energy. Heterotrophs are also called consumers. They are very different from autotrophs, also called producers.

What Is Heterotroph Class 7 Example?

Organisms which can not make their own food and obtain it directly or indirectly from green plants are called heterotrophs. They are producers. They are consumers. For example, all green plants, cynobacteria, etc.

What Are The 3 Types Of Heterotrophs?

There are three types of heterotrophs: are herbivores, carnivores and omnivores.

Is A Mushroom A Heterotroph?

Mushrooms are heterotrophs (i.e., they cannot perform photosynthesis). Consequently, they feed on organic matter.


In this article, you have learned all about the types of heterotrophs with examples. Now, you can get a hint after hearing a question like, what are some examples of heterotrophs? Because above you have learned more than 2 examples of heterotrophs. A leafy grass plant takes in sunlight, carbon dioxide, trace minerals from the soil, and water to produce plant sugars it uses for energy. The plant consumes sunlight, and through photosynthesis, they create its own food. So, this was all about the examples of heterotrophs.