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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Study Carnivorous Animals - their Anatomy, Physiology and Behaviour.

  • Learn to explain differences in the biology of different species of carnivores; by describing the differentiating biological characteristics of the families and genera that fall within the taxonomic order Carnivora.

  • Designed and written by animal scientists and zoologists from the UK, Australia and America.

  • Unlimited support from university qualified tutors with decades of experience working with carnivores on every continent.

  • A great foundation for anyone starting a career

  • Study for professional development, and an opportunity to further your career.



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Study Carnivore Zoology - learn about their evolution, behaviours and much more.

The mammalian Order, Carnivora, comprises a group of mammals that typically feed on a predominant diet of meat.
  • Anatomical features.
    Physiological features.
    Behavioural features.

  • Determine how the anatomy of a Carnivore is modified for eating meat - 
    Teeth modifications.
    Skull modifications.

  • Study Carnivore behaviours and how they are related to a meat-eating lifestyle - 
    Social behaviours.

  • Students studying this course will -
    Gain fundamental knowledge on the taxonomy, anatomy and behaviour that differentiates Carnivores from other mammals.

  • They will then delve deeper -
    Studying the biological characteristics of different groups of carnivores
    Learning about the origin, characteristics, behaviour and threats of different species.


This course has 9 lessons as follows:

Lesson 1. Taxonomy and Evolution

  • Distinguishing characteristics of carnivores
  • Principles of taxonomy
  • Modern science changes to taxonomy
  • Carnivore classification - 12 families
  • Case study - polar bear
  • Carnivore evolution

Lesson 2. Carnivore Biology

  • Introduction
  • Musculo skeletal system
  • Types of joints
  • Types of muscles
  • Digestive system
  • Excretory system -skin, kidneys, liver
  • Endocrine system
  • Nervous system
  • Reproductive system
  • Case study - Domestic cat
  • Respiratory system
  • Anatomical adaptations for feeding
  • Locomotion
  • Camouflage
  • Sight

Lesson 3. Carnivore Behaviour

  • Kinds of behaviour - reactive, active, cognitive
  • Learned behaviour -classical conditioning, operant conditioning
  • Physiology and behaviour
  • Senses
  • Range and distribution
  • Ecology
  • Longevity
  • Reproduction
  • Predation
  • Pathogens and parasites
  • Sustainable management
  • Mating and sexual behaviour
  • Social behaviours
  • Hunting behaviours
  • Territories

Lesson 4. Canines

  • Introduction
  • Atelocynus (short-eared dog)
  • Canis (dogs, wolves and foxes)
  • Cerdocyon (crab-eating fox)
  • Chrysocyon   
  • Chrysocyon (maned wolf)
  • Cuon (dhole)
  • Dusicyon (Falkland Islands wolf)
  • Lycalopex (culpeo, fox)
  • Lycaon (African wild dog)
  • Nyctereutes (raccoon dog)
  • Otocyon (bat-eared fox)
  • Vulpes (fox)

Lesson 5. Felines

  • Sub families
  • Anatomy
  • Digestive system
  • Panthera (Lion, tiger, leopard, Jaguar)
  • Neofelis (Clouded Leopard)
  • Pardofelis (Marbled Cat)
  • Felis (cat)
  • Prionailurus (Fishing Cat)
  • Leopardus (Andean Mountain Cat)
  • Case study - Tiger

Lesson 6. Bears

  • Introduction
  • Anatomy
  • Dentition
  • Lifespan
  • Hibernation
  • Mating and reproduction
  • Living genera and species
  • Ursus
  • Helarctos(Sun Bear)
  • Melursus (Sloth Bear)
  • Tremarctos (Andean Bear, Spectacled Bear)
  • Ailuropoda (Giant Panda)
  • Case study - Giant Panda

Lesson 7. Aquatic Carnivores

  • Introduction
  • Odobenidae (walrus)
  • Phocidae (true, earless, or hair seals)
  • Otariidae (eared seals) (fur seals, sea lions)
  • Case study - Walrus conservation

Lesson 8. Mustalids

  • Introduction
  • Mustelidae family - Weasels, Baders, Otters
  • Genus Taxidea (American badger)
  • Mellivora (Honey badger)
  • Arctonyx
  • Meles (Badgers)
  • Eira (Tayra)
  • Gulo (Wolverine)
  • Martes (Martens and Fishers)
  • Melogale (Ferret badgers)
  • Iconyx (Striped polecat)
  • Lontra (New world otters)
  • Enhydra (Sea otters)
  • Lutra (old world otters)
  • Mustella Weasels, European Mink, Ferrets, Stoats and polecats
  • Others
  • Mephitdae family - skunks

Lesson 9. Other Carnivores

  • Introduction
  • Procyonidae (raccoons)
  • Ailuridae (lesser panda) 
  • Viverridae (civets, genets)
  • Herpestidae (mongooses - often considered part of Viverridae)
  • Hyaenidae (hyenas, aardwolf)

Course Duration - 100 hours of self-paced study.


  • To discuss the characteristics, classification and significance of carnivorous animals to man, ecosystems and environments.

  • To describe anatomical and physiological features of carnivores, which differentiate carnivores from other types of mammals.

  • To explain carnivore behaviour.

  • To differentiate different types of animals belonging to the taxonomic family called Canidae.

  • To differentiate different types of animals belonging to the taxonomic family called Felidae.

  • To differentiate different types of animals belonging to the taxonomic family called Ursidae.

  • To differentiate different types of canine animals that are aquatic.

  • To differentiate different types of animals belonging to the taxonomic family called Mustelidae and Mephitidae.

  • To differentiate different types of animals belonging to other taxonomic families. 


The word carnivore means "meat eater", and most carnivores do eat meat, but some do not. The following are characteristics that are applied to carnivores:

  • Most have teeth modified for eating meat (with some variations).

  • Their skulls are varied but generally have a relatively large brain case.

  • Their brains are relatively large, and they are intelligent.

  • Most have well developed senses.

  • Their stomachs are always simple.

  • They have a thick coat of hair - varied in colour.

  • Most are medium sized animals - the smallest is a weasel around 35gm, and largest are elephant seals weighing up to 3,600 kg. 

  • Males are commonly larger than females.

  • They are relatively long lived animals (most to 10 years or more).

  • Many are the top predators in their ecosystems.


The Carnivore Zoology course is an insightful reference course providing a vast knowledge about these fascinating animals. It is aimed at students with a keen interest in carnivores or, equally, for those interested in animals in general and wanting to specialise.


At ACS we provide you with more than just a set of course notes.

Your 'learning package' includes:
  • Course notes.

  • Self-assessment quizzes.

  • Assignment feedback.

  • You can interact one on one with professional animal scientists with decades of experience - just email, phone or log on to chat to connect with a tutor.


Enrolling is easy, simply go to the box at the top of the page and select your payment plan and method of learning.

If you have any questions, or would like help in choosing the right course for your career development, then please get in touch with our specialist tutors today using our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

Meet some of our academics

Kara WightKara Wight - Animal Scientist, Photographer and Business woman. BSc (Applied Bioscience and Zoology), HND (Animal Care), HND (Photography & Imaging) Kara gained an HND in Animal Care and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Applied Bioscience and Zoology. She has a wide range of experience working with animals such dogs, small pets, birds, zoo animals, British wildlife and reptiles. Kara gained this experience working within animal parks, canine rescue centres and a wildlife hospital. She also managed an animal care training facility for a college. At this training facility she instructed and lectured students within Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing from National Certificate level to Higher National Diploma levels. Kara also gained an HND in Photography and Imaging and has 5 years’ experience within this sector. She ran a small portraiture and wedding photography business and also exhibited work in art exhibitions. Kara gained more experience photographing sporting and festival events. Kara currently runs a pet care and training business in the UK and also has entry to undertake her MSc in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law this academic year.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Marius Erasmus Subsequent to completing a BSc (Agric) degree in animal science, Marius completed an honours degree in wildlife management, and a masters degree in production animal physiology. Following the Masters degree, he has worked for 9 years in the UK, and South Africa in wildlife management, dairy, beef and poultry farming.

Check out our eBooks

Animal PsychologyExplore how animals think and comare how this differs between different animals (and humans)
Working with AnimalsIf you enjoy interacting with animals, are interested in biological science, or are passionate about wildlife, pets or farming; you may thrive in the type of jobs outlined in this book. Get to know more about the industries and the occupations that you could do. The Working with Animals ebook is a comprehensive catalogue to inspire you in your career in working with animals!
Carnivore AnimalsLearn about mammals of the Order Carnivora which includes such animals as dogs, wolves, bears, racoons, cats, weasels, hyenas, seals, sea lions and walruses. This book covers an array of facts about the biological characteristics of different groups of carnivores. Learn about the anatomy, habitat, behaviour, physiology, diet and reproduction of different carnivores. The eBook also covers the relationships between humans and carnivores, both in the context of managing domestic and wild carnivores.
Getting Work in a Modern WorldGetting Work in a Modern World is a must read; for students, parents, the unemployed, careers advisors or anyone interested in changing or forging a sustainable career. This is realistic guide to getting a job or starting out in business and understanding different industries. Topics covered in this book include 1/Career Myths, 2/ Finding Your Path, 3/ Understanding Employers, 4/ Preparing for a Job, 5/ Jobs to Consider: Looking to the Future, 6/ Information Technology, 7/ Business, Management and Sales, 8/ Health and Wellbeing, 9/ Horticulture, 10/ Wildlife and Environmental, 11/ Animal Care, 12/ Agriculture, 13/ Hospitality and Tourism, 14/ Media and 15/ Education.