animal that feeds on decomposing plant and animal parts as well as faeces

Detritivores are animals that eat dead plants and animals. They also eat waste from other animals. They help to break down dead things and turn them into soil. This helps plants to grow. Detritivores are important for the environment. Some examples of detritivores are earthworms, millipedes, and woodlice, they live in the soil and eat dead leaves and other things. In the ocean, there are also detritivores like crabs and sea cucumbers, they eat dead things on the bottom of the ocean.

An earthworm
Woodlice in tree bark
Bacteria (Escherichia coli cells magnified 25,000 times)

Difference from Decomposers change

Detritivores are different from decomposers. Decomposers are things like bacteria and fungi. They break down dead things by absorbing them. Detritivores eat the dead things and break them down inside their bodies.

Importance change

Detritivores are important for recycling nutrients in the environment. Detritivores also play an important role in food webs. They eat dead things and turn them into nutrients for plants. Then, herbivores eat the plants and get energy from them. Carnivores eat the herbivores and get energy from them. This is how energy flows through a food web. They also help to keep the soil healthy and help to clean up dead things, so they don't spread disease.

Eating Habits change

Detritivores also have different ways of finding food. Some, like earthworms, use their sense of touch to find food in the soil. Others, like crabs, use their sense of smell to find food in the water.

Detritivores have different ways of eating dead things. Earthworms swallow the dead things whole. Others, like millipedes, have special mouthparts to chew the dead things. Some detritivores, like woodlice, can even eat cellulose, which is a tough part of plants.

Reference change

[1] Merriam-Webster (n.d.). Detritivore Definition & Meaning.

[2] BD Editors. (2019, March 27). Detritivore - Definition, Function and Examples | Biology Dictionary. Biology Dictionary.

[3] Kanchwala, H. (2019, March 23). Detritivore: Definition, Function and Examples. Science ABC.

[4] Detritivore | Definition, Role, & Examples. (n.d.).