Learn About Food Chains and Food Webs for Kids
Food chains and food webs show how animals use plants and other animals for food. Plants and animals are called organisms. An organism is a living thing. Organisms are used for food by other organisms. When an owl eats a mouse, nutrition in the mouse’s body is passed onto the owl. So, food chains and webs show how nutrition passes from one organism to another.
Food chains and webs have what are known as producers and consumers. Producers make their own food. Plants are producers because they make their own food using a process called photosynthesis. Animals are consumers because they must eat plants or other animals for their survival.
So, what is the difference between a food chain and a food web? A food chain shows just one path or connection. A web shows lots of connections.
What Is a Food Chain?
A food chain shows a simple connection. A mouse eats grass. A snake eats the mouse. An eagle eats the snake. Nutrition passes from the grass to the mouse, then from the mouse to the snake and finally from the snake to the eagle.
So, you can see why it's called a chain. A chain connects things. All of these creatures are connected together. They depend on other organisms for their survival. Chains only go one way. A mouse would never eat a snake and grass doesn't eat mice.
Animals can be herbivores, carnivores or omnivores. Herbivores only eat plants. Carnivores only eat meat. Omnivores eat both meat and plants.
Herbivores - plant eaters
Carnivores - meat eaters
Omnivores - plant and meat eaters
What Is a Food Web?
A food web is made up of several food chains put together. They give a better picture of everything an organism can eat. For example, an eagle eats mice, snakes and fish. A food web can be designed to show that.
Do you notice that animals in food chains and webs can be both predators and prey. A predator kills and eats other animals. Prey is the animal that gets killed and eaten. A snake in a food web can be both a predator and prey.
Prey - animals that get killed and eaten
Predators - animals that hunt and eat other animals
Plants are known as producers because they produce or create energy. They do this using a process called photosynthesis. Plants use sunlight, water and nutrients in the soil to make energy. When an animal eats a plants that energy is transferred from the plant to the animal.
Primary Consumers - animals that eat plants are called herbivores and primary consumers
Other Consumers - animals that eat other animals are called carnivores or secondary consumers. When a carnivore eats another carnivore, it's called a tertiary consumer