What do manatee eat?

Manatees are herbivorous marine mammals that primarily feed on aquatic vegetation. Based on the provided search results, here are the key points about the diet and eating habits of manatees:


  • Manatees are aquatic herbivores that consume a wide variety of over 60 different plant species, including:
    • Seagrasses (turtle grass, manatee grass, shoal grass)
    • Freshwater plants (water hyacinth, water lettuce, hydrilla, water celery)
    • Mangrove leaves
    • Algae
    • Shoreline vegetation
  • They occasionally supplement their diet with small amounts of fish, mollusks, or other invertebrates ingested incidentally while grazing on plants.134

Eating Habits

  • Manatees spend up to 8 hours per day grazing and can consume 4-9% of their body weight in vegetation daily, which translates to 30-100 pounds for an average adult.134
  • They use their flexible lips and flippers to collect, tear, and guide plants into their mouth. Their rough molars help grind and chew the vegetation.34
  • Manatees require access to fresh water sources like rivers, hoses, or culverts to maintain proper salt balance, even in marine habitats.34
  • During periods of low vegetation or cold temperatures, manatees can fast for up to 7 months by relying on their low metabolic rate and fat reserves.34
In summary, manatees are herbivorous grazers that consume a diverse array of aquatic plants, using specialized adaptations like prehensile lips and rough molars to feed on vegetation found in their freshwater and marine habitats.12345
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