This is a multi-species animal army with predators of all shapes and sixes, foxes, lions, bears, tigers, leopards, wolves, lynx, eagles, falcons and so on.

The herbivores have been excluded from the army because they appear to serve no apparent purpose. They have no talons, no sharp teeth, no ability to pounce on a foe. A few of the more patriotic herbivores have volunteered their services but every time were rebuffed and ridiculed.

This is strictly animal on animal combat. There are no tools or artificial armor. All animals have achieved human level intelligence without tool building. They are able to vocally communicate fluently regardless of their physiology. They feel the same six emotions that humans feel, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, happiness and sadness. Each species has general personality attributes derived from that species' physical characteristics. Eagles tend to be a bit arrogant. Wolves are highly social. Elephants tend toward wisdom and pontification.

Discussion about what the carnivores eat is out of scope. Also, why the herbivores would want to help the carnivores is out of scope. They just do.

How can the herbivores prove that they have a place in the army alongside the carnivores? What special capabilities do they bring to the table that would be valuable in winning a war?

  • $\begingroup$ Have you heard the parable of the Lion and the Mouse? $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ This (and some of the answers) anticipate the themes in Zootopia (May 2016). $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Jun 4, 2016 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ Are you telling me, that a bunch of wolves, who have to put considerable effort into planning the tactics required to take down a lone bison for dinner, can't see the utility in an elephant?! The wolves would surely approach the elephant for help! "Hey, can you help us?" "Fight! I don't know how to fight." "That's the beauty of it, you don't need to. You just run in and try and stand on everything." "Oh!" $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ Take a look at huntercourse.com/blog/2011/11/… Note that of the first five animals listed, only the crocodile eats meat. The elephant, rhino, hippo and cape buffalo are very dangerous herbivores if provoked. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 9:37
  • $\begingroup$ Animals like rhinos and elephants are GIANT and have sharp tusks/horns. Plus, you don't need to expend resources for herbivores cause it's easier to grow plants than grow, fatten, and slaughter cattle or other domesticated animals for the carnivores. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 29, 2017 at 7:02

15 Answers 15


I second the answers that place herbivores in the role of heavy cavalry (or, I would hazard, animal 'pikemen' - big masses of bodies that a few lions or dogs cannot really approach), or as runners, scouts etc.

But consider the social dynamics. Most carnivores are lone wolves (e.g. prey birds) or hunt in small packs. Two small packs of lions in the same territory will fight each other before they turn their attention to prey. Completely un-managable.

The strategists and generals of the army may well be intelligent herbivores, since they are used to dealing in large numbers and the movement of any army worthy of the name is necessarily the movement of a herd.

Managing an army is a man-management and foraging task. More soldiers die of disease and malnutrition than enemy action. Persuasive oratory by the general is constantly needed to prevent mutiny when the promised wages inevitably fail to materialise.

Your supreme commander is probably a Pig. He 'gets' the psychology of both plant eaters and meat eaters. He can make speeches that appeal to both.

His Aides de Camp include hares, horses, rats etc as well as carnivores. The army's chief quartermaster is a squirrel (for obvious reasons). The rats are his military police and political commissars (supported by dog packs as enforcers), they are everywhere and constantly on the lookout for sedition and poor morale.

The main body of the army - deployed in the centre - consists of a battle hardened Bovine core. They don't do much, but serve to anchor the centre and while they retain cohesion, are unlikely to be routed by a few mangy carnivores, especially since the former outnumber the latter. The Bovine blocks are probably officered by dogs to move them about effectively. This main core does not charge the enemy until their foes are on the brink of collapse, because once they let rip you ain't getting them back in formation.

The carnivores are deployed on the wings like traditional cavalry - to try and encircle the enemy centre, or as skirmishers ranged along the front to worry the main body of the enemy force, and possibly a few key shock troops kept in reserve - however this small cadre is unlikely to be decisive.

Another possible formation echoes renaissance pike and shot armies. Big blocks of dumb heavy Bovines (pikes) surrounded and supported by faster moving and more long-ranged carnivores (musketeers). When superior enemy numbers threaten, the carnivore sleeves of the animal tercio shelter under the legs of their more bulky comrades.

enter image description here

Substitute the pikemen for cows and the blocks of shot at the corners for carnivores. Then go read thos fabulous account of the Battle of Ceresole.

A snippet:

The pike and shot infantry had by this time adopted a system in which arquebusiers and pikemen were intermingled in combined units; both the French and the Imperial infantry contained men with firearms interspersed in the larger columns of pikemen.[42] This combination of pikes and small arms made close-quarters fighting extremely bloody.[43] The mixed infantry was normally placed in separate clusters, with the arquebusiers on the flanks of a central column of pikemen; at Ceresole, however, the French infantry had been arranged with the first rank of pikemen followed immediately by a rank of arquebusiers, who were ordered to hold their fire until the two columns met.[44] Montluc, who claimed to have devised the scheme, wrote that:

In this way we should kill all their captains in the front rank. But we found that they were as ingenious as ourselves, for behind their first line of pikes they had put pistoleers. Neither side fired till we were touching—and then there was a wholesale slaughter: every shot told: the whole front rank on each side went down.[45]

Again, substitute the big bovines for pikes and the big cats for those armed with firearms.

Another bit of Ceresole from the link above that I like, which I have edited to substitute animals for men:

On the first charge, Enghien's wolfpack penetrated a corner of the Imperial Bull-square, pushing through to the rear and losing some of the volunteers from the Black Forrest.[54] As bulls ranks closed again, the wolfpack turned and made a second charge under constant arial attack from the hawks circling above the Imperial formations. This was far more costly, and again failed to break the Imperial Bulls. Enghien, now joined by Dampierre's Foxes, made a third charge, which again failed to achieve a decisive result; fewer than a hundred of the wolves remained afterwards.

Enghien believed the battle to be lost—according to Montluc, he intended to stab himself, "which ancient Romans might do, but not good Christians"—when St. Julian, the commander of his own Bulls, arrived from the center of the battlefield and reported that the Imperial Bulls there had broken formation after a long horn to horn tussle with our own, and then been chased from the battlefield by our own skirmishing hounds, which had been held in reserve.

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    $\begingroup$ Brilliant! And a proposed order of battle too! $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ I added a few more tidbits and a piccy. A mixed force of animals is crying out to be deployed like this! $\endgroup$
    – rumguff
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ "Your supreme commander is probably a Pig." Because some comrades are more equal than others? Also this bit amused me: "The army's chief quartermaster is a squirrel (for obvious reasons)." In my mind those reasons being a squirrel hopelessly trying to drag a sword to and from their hidden stash of nuts and weapons... kind of like if the IRA's quartermasters happened to be dwarf leprechauns. $\endgroup$
    – user20787
    Commented Jun 6, 2016 at 16:48

I think the herbivores would argue that the carnivorous are highly specialised, and tend not to be very social.

On a battlefield, charging Rhinos, Bisons, Buffalos, Bulls, etc. could break any line of carnivorous animals.

You need to defend a position? Who are you calling? a Hyena or an elephant? Same story in the sea, larger whales are not carnivorous.

But armies have to be made of complementary units and not only fighting units.

  • Giraffes are great guards. Their long neck allows them to see any coming enemies from far away.
  • Small herbivores can scout the enemy lines quite well: mice, rabbits.
  • And you need logistics in your army. Who's to bring food? A horse or a donkey would be much more efficient than tigers. Transport messages on long distances? Not the lions, more antelopes.
  • Beavers makes ideal military engineers.

And seriously, who would not want to have Koalas in their army? They'd make great spy: so cute that no one would ever doubt them.

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    $\begingroup$ Notes: The giraffes are outclassed by the falcons. You can't easily pack much food on the donkey as there are no saddle bags (they do carry themselve though) and so are outclassed by pelicans (or kangaroos with their arms as their pouches might get irratated). Migratory birds are best for non-stealth message transport and those are either herbivores or carnivores. Owls are best for stealth message transport (wings designed to make little noise). Really though you need many soldiers doing these taskes and a larger recruitment pool is great. $\endgroup$
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ @kaine, I voluntary left the birds out of the list. May birds are omnivorous, so I don't know if they are included and those eating insects aren't technically carnivorous either. So I wanted to avoid technicalities. When you transport food, a truck does not load itself. Same here, you lay the dead animals on top of horses or donkeys... using an elephant for example. I don't know how much wait can the kangaroos or the pelicans carry, but I doubt they surpass the equidaes. So you're comparing a truck with a car. Both are good. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Krill are small crustaceans and they are a large part of whalebone whale diets. Meanwhile, toothed whales eat larger animals. Whalebone whales might not actively hunt but their diet contains plenty of animal protein. $\endgroup$
    – kram1032
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ That's fair enough. Really, the question quickly becomes very broad if one looks too deeply into it. What really is considered in what category? And what scales are interesting for OP? Are bacteria considered? Probably not. But where is the cutoff? Etc. I definitely see why you want to avoid technicalities. Koalas probably are druggies in this universe considering their liberal usage of eucalyptus. $\endgroup$
    – kram1032
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ Good job on pointing out the flaws with the assumption that herbivores couldn't do much in an army, without getting bogged down on all the vagueness of the question's premises and assumptions. $\endgroup$
    – Karen
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 13:19

enter image description here

This hippo seeks to disagree with the notion that herbivores lack sharp teeth. Or, at least, she would disagree with that notion were anyone to present it to her in person, but they won't, because they know that this hippo will wreck them.

Well, there was one animal that disagreed with her about the whole 'sharp teeth' thing. "You want some dangerous teeth?" Said the other animal, "I'll show you some dangerous teeth.

enter image description here

There are no carnivores in that picture because they all fled in terror, happy to fight alongside these huge-toothed engines of destruction, if only because it meant not having to fight against them.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Please, I need context for these photos! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ I found it $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ +1 Hippos kill more people every year than lions, elephants, wolves and sharks combined. $\endgroup$
    – Gaurav
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 0:31
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    $\begingroup$ Here's my translation to @Raystafarian's link: "A mother's courage sometimes knows no limit! During his travel in the private park of Erindi in Namibia, the photograph, Mr. Ryan van Shalkveyk was fortunate enough to capture a fight (without casualties, I assure you) so rare I decided to show you! Indeed, that day, an elephant charged towards a group of hippos. The group's female assumed a good position to receive the attack, giving her children enough time to flee. The mother was not gravely injured. Her thick skin protected her and the elephant did not use its tusks." $\endgroup$
    – Nolonar
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ @mojo AFAIK, the issue is that hippos like to stay submerged in rivers, where they are difficult to spot. This makes easier for people to inadvertently get inside its "safety zone" than inside the safety zone of elephants or rhinos. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 21:36

This question makes the number one mistake made by budding arm chair generals.

"You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics." - General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Your carnivore army can be defeated without being engaged in a single battle.

Nothing kills in combat like disease and famine.

So lets start with your supposed army of carnivores. If I were in a campaign against your army, first thing I would do is retreat to my lines, lock myself in my castle/cave/whatever fortified position, and wait for winter.

Within days of the beginning of the siege, your army of carnivores will find themselves stretched beyond their supply lines, and they will lose discipline, resort to in-fighting to eat each other.

The fact of the matter is, supplying an army of carnivores is actually impossible. The dynamics of a realistic army would actually have the herbivores make up the bulk of the fighting force, whilst the carnivores would act as roving skirmishers and raiders.

Its not all bad though. Like modern fighting forces, the roving skirmishers/raiders tend to be given elite status, as they operate deep in enemy lines with little support.

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    $\begingroup$ The truth of Eisenhower's statement is difficult for people who haven't studied the subject (or spent time in the military) to grasp. Battles are won before they are fought, for a hundred reasons. Each side engages either because they must, or (more often) because they think they know the situation and disposition of the other side well enough to be confident -- and we're nearly always wrong about most of what we think we know. Nearly everything about an enemy's situation, disposition and even training traces back to logistics in one form or another. $\endgroup$
    – zxq9
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 5:33

Interesting, many herbivores are very capable fighters. Have you ever seen videos of deer beating the crap out of an idiot who got too close? They also have antlers which they can use to keep predators at bay.

Elk and Moose are huge animals with a lot of destructive power, Moose have totally trashed snowmobiles with their antlers. What about Buffalo? I would be much more worried about being attacked by a single Bison than any single wolf. Hippos, Rhinos etc are also extremely dangerous when threatened. One on one most large herbivores are much more dangerous than their predatory counter part.

Now rabbits? not so much, but they are quick (could be messengers) and are low to the ground and thus could bite ankles and such as a distraction etc.

But just because herbivore's don't have 'claws' doesn't make them 'safe'. And plenty of herbivore's DO have claws (including rabbits). Hippos and boars have tusks, rhinos and bison have horns, hooves can cause serious injury, weight is a weapon too. Just cause someone doesn't want to fight doesn't mean they can't.

Edit: And I forgot about these! Deer with fangs! and unlike Jack-o-lope, these guys really exist! enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Rabbits don't have claws?! Tell that to all the bleeding scratches I've had from our pet rabbit whenever she panicked while being held - a frantically kicking rabbit can rip your skin to shreds if you get in the way of those long claws. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild ha, that is not what I meant, but that certainly is how it reads. I'll clean up that paragraph... $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 2:46
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    $\begingroup$ Now rabbits? not so much, but they are quick and they are immune to anything but the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch $\endgroup$
    – WernerCD
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 15:08

At the moment I can think of 6 things besides unique species characteristics. Please note though that it will help you to consider exactly what species you want to focus on to see if individual species have more useful unique characteristics. Monkey have hands; mole (ok insectivore) burrow; etc.

1) Number: Because plant life is much easier to produce en mass than meat, expect that the biomass of herbivores will greatly exceed that of carnivores. For every lion, you need many zebras. They are very good at stampeding.

2) Size: While not the majority, the most giant beasts tend to be herbivores. Ignoring elephants and rhinos for now, there are large numbers of large grazing mammals such as bulls that can do some serious damage in they put their weight into it.

3) Repurposed defense: Herbivores are evolved to survive carnivore attacks. Obvious examples include horns and hooves but for strategic purposes, poisons or spines could theoretically serve a purpose. If they are good enough to defend, they are usually good enough for attacking. They could also help to slow advancing forces by standing their ground.

4) Repurposed escape: Some herbivores survive not by defending themselves but by getting away. This means they might be good for reconnaissance but are generally outclassed as far as this goes by falcons and what not. They may, however, be able to move quickly and not be seen. A mouse is great at hiding and spying. A sparrow can get in and out quietly and quickly to pass the info on.

5) Incite riots: Finally, you can use the carnivore/herbivore thing to your advantage. While the pure carnivore enemies plan their war, the more allied forces sneak into enemy territory and speak to the other herbivores. "Hey dude, I'm like you but it is better over where I'm at. Help us out and it will be better here." Let the monkey and hare then release all the cattle. The rooster than calls loud enough to signal the other camp to go forward and all hell breaks loose.

-added later-

6) Easier food supply for managing army: How are creatures that can't use tools going to store food for an extended conflict? Squirrels are smart enough to store provisions. I think human intellegence level cows can find a way to place a few haystacks in sheltered areas and have sheep resupply the pile as they can. I have no idea how a wolf could do that with meat if they can't freeze or salt it. Wars are won by logistics as much as if not more so than tactics. A large army of herbivores definitely stand a better chance on the logistics side as long as they can protect their dead (and admittedly feed it to allies carnivores). Before long, the enemy army will bring potential future allies (see insight riot) to just behind the front lines for food. OTherwise, internal conflict and consumption will ensue. The carnivore army can best survive if it is advancing (pillaging) or being attacked. If it is sieged or forced to retreat it cannot recover as easily. The only advantage they have logistically is that their food can walk. (Note this idea works better if someone is smart enough to find a way to carry hay well such as tying it somehow to the sheep's fleece.)

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    $\begingroup$ Putting this here. Several people discuss communication. If a team has elephants, they are the perfect communication hub. They produce infrasonic tones which can communicate to other elephants 4km away. Call them old and wise and they can encode this further. $\endgroup$
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Green Indeed, there are two things that are best at humans unique: thinking and running. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 22:37

Herbivores can be extremely dangerous:

enter image description here

Sharks, Lions, and Wolves combined have a fraction the body count of Hippos.

Dogs are predators and are way ahead, but that's because of their high population comparatively. I did find the Croc number interesting.

However, obviously your predators should also get out of the army and make way for the legions of deadly insects.

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    $\begingroup$ ah but the actual killers here for most are the protozoans and trypanosomes etc. They are killer micro organisms... maybe they can gain human level sentience... then what? (note a joke) $\endgroup$
    – kaine
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Giving microorganisms human level sentience would be interesting, given that they don't have the sensory capabilities to comprehend a human-level world, or really to manipulate their environment, for the most part. Trophozoites, for example, would have the ability to glide about blindly, consume their immediate surroundings, and perhaps sense some chemical properties of their surroundings. The existence of larger organisms, or even other cells, would be out of the ability of their sensory organs to determine, even if backed (somehow) by a human-strength mind. $\endgroup$
    – ckersch
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ @ckersch: A micro-organism that can see through the host's sensory apparatus can make for an interesting story. See Robert Sawyer's novel, End of an Era. sfwriter.com/exer.htm $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ @zxq9: Keep in mind this is worldwide, I'm sure the first world numbers are quite different. it also obviously includes diseases spread by animals - otherwise mosquito wouldn't be on the list - so that might be distorting at least the dog numbers as well. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ @DanSmolinske Other figures in that same article contradict figures in the image above, though. Not that pravda.ru is a particularly reliable source (lots of circular citation going around the web). Might be a fun topic for Snopes or skeptics.se. $\endgroup$
    – zxq9
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 16:25

TL DR: Strength in numbers and disease.

The premise of this question is flawed, an animal does not need claws, talons, or pouncing ability to kill; sheer size can be a threat. Herbivores have horns that in a ramming blow can easily break ribs. Plus herbivores have vastly larger numbers. after all there is a reason wolves don't go head on into herds or lions don't attack groups of elephants. Also speaking of elephants, their tusks are a major threat as well. I would think that the primary force would be herbivores, used as infantry while carnivores would be more of a Calvary unit. Keep in mind that strategy plays a large part in this as well.

Also while I'm here let's talk about disease. Rats make up over a third of all mammals and bats make up another quarter that 55% already taken in just 2 orders! bat have guano that is poisonous to most animals (I'm thinking of fruit bats if insect eating counts as carnivore In your plan). Rats are also carriers of disease as they are fed carrion. Send thousand of thousands of both and the enemy is screwed.

Edit This next part assumes insectivore are not counted as carnivores and treated the same as herbivores. I could easily see massive swarms of flies, bees, ant, and grasshoppers suffocating the enemies by sheer numbers.

  • Elephant.

    Their size is a definitive advantage. Nobody would try to approach them without caution. Their tusks can throw enemies around and they can also impale them. Nobody wants to be charged by an elephant.

  • Bison, it's a lot faster than an elephant.

Rhinos and elephants charging in formation would make some formidable "heavy cavalry". Also, hippos kill more people than any other large animal (pigs or larger) per year in Africa. Smaller animals tend to be disease carriers rather than direct killers of humans, but I'm not sure that's relevant. Generally, larger and slower herbivores have mechanisms to defend themselves from predators, and can be extremely dangerous. Then there are also non combat roles. Giraffes could communicate over distances on battle field due to their height, birds for reconnaissance, small fast herbivores as forward scouts. Generally herbivores that rely on speed as a defensive mechanism can either straight out out-pace predators, or otherwise out-distance them. There are reasons wolves hunt in packs. Cheetahs tire quickly.


Herbivores would make great spies. "That rabbit...who cares about a rabbit...he's just food. Just ignore him...".

Herbivores are easier to feed. They eat plants, which grow everywhere. How does the army feed itself? Better an army that can forage than one which must take time to hunt.

Rodents are great diggers, and they would be better fighters than moles. Beavers can build infrastructure. Mice can nibble their way through substances that would blunt and break a carnivore's teeth. They could be sent on rescue missions.

Because of their skeletal structure they would be better able to carry heavy loads. That's why you can ride a horse for long periods of time but you can't do the same to a big cat. They are also built to travel long distances better than a carnivore, which is basically made for dash-and-strike. And because they are foragers, they don't get sluggish after a meal.

They would also be better at teamwork. Very few carnivores are by nature equipped to work in teams.

And what about omnivores? You don't mention those. A skunk would make a great weapon to use against carnivores with sensitive noses. And most of the animals with higher intelligence are going to be omnivorous.

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    $\begingroup$ Humans are the only predator I know of that runs its prey to death. Some predators have impressively large ranges that they cover daily or weekly but that's at a lope instead of sprint. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, he does mention omnivores (at least Bears) but he classifies them as carnivores. $\endgroup$
    – krowe
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 3:54
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    $\begingroup$ -1 "Herbivores would make great spies." This is nonsense. Anyone who has ever seen any nature program will have seen "carnivore x sneaking up to herd of herbivore y". I have yet to see a nature program of "herbivore y sneaking up to plant z". $\endgroup$
    – Aron
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Don't count out rabbits; recently this video came out of a momma rabbit saving at least one of her three babies by biting and kicking the crap out of a snake who was strangling them. $\endgroup$
    – CR Drost
    Commented Sep 16, 2015 at 22:30
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisDrost That's mighty-momma power. Inherent to most mammals. All bets are off if you face any army off against an army of panicked-for-their-children mammalian mothers. $\endgroup$
    – zxq9
    Commented Sep 17, 2015 at 16:43

I'll second the emphasis on logistics. Herbivores are ten times more efficient when you compare the calories they eat to the calories you need to fatten up animals for carnivores to eat. Herbivores can probably live off the land. Carnivores probably have to raid. This might, however, get back to the mystery of how the carnivores eat.

Primarily, though, the issue isn't even which individual herbivores can outfight carnivores one on one or what specialized roles some species can play. (Although remember: in the real world, horses were the main way to haul things and send messages until the middle of the 20th century.) The question is whether herbivores can contribute at all, even as auxiliaries.

Analogies this brings to mind are the racial desegregation of the US armed forces and the gradual expansion of the role of women in combat, in many countries, including the arguments people made against them.


Herbivores have a place in the army as many others have stated for many reasons:

1) As previously stated many times, many of the largest animals are not only herbivore, but also have very tough skin(a natural armor). This attribute was not specifically pointed out, though it was alluded to when it was mentioned that they are good for holding a line. The elephant may go down, but it will kill or maim tens or hundreds before doing so, and survive long enough to give the opportunity for for other animals(mongoose, snakes, other death blow dealing animals) to slip in unnoticed and slay the already engaged enemy.

2) Though the falcon, owl, or eagle makes a great scout, they are highly visible(the owl much less so, but it's hard to hide when there is nothing to blend against). This can pose a problem if the scouting action is to remain unnoticed. Small ground based herbivores such as a rabbit or squirrel make excellent scouts since they can move fast and quiet, and are incredibly nimble. Squirrels have the added advantage of being able to get to high perches with relative ease while still blending in with the surrounding environment, as well as being able to jump from tree to tree to avoid the carnivores.

3) The several times answered already issue of beans, bullets, band-aids. It is much easier to find your food growing, absent of thought, and stationary, rather than moving and intelligently avoiding the predator. This reason alone is enough to warrant herbivore integration. Herbivores can be sustained fairly easily, and can also take advantage of the healing benefits of herbs and other plant based medicines.

4) Herbivores tend to mass produce and live in colonies, adding chaos to chaos when this nature is applied in a battle environment. It is much easier to track the individual lions in the pack than it is to track the individual zebras in a herd. This idea stands to capitalize on the confusion of details, and can be exploited to send messages(can't kill the messenger if you can find him), as well as to mask troop movements(can't see past the cloud of dust the herd is kicking up, or at least can't tell the direction of movement since the sheer numbers make it hard to track individual movement.)

5) Some herbivores are extremely dangerous when provoked. Many primates are herbivores, some have enormous strength, as well as dexterity close to or even exceeding a human. When this combination is applied with human level intellect, this creature can be multitudes more deadly than the carnivore equipped with just claws and fangs, regardless of intellect. Think of a gorilla that has mastered martial arts.

There are many more reasons I'm sure, I will add them as I think of them. Here is a list of dangerous herbivores that surely fit the standard of fighting force. I did not include humans in this consideration since they are the standard to which all other animals have been compared to, as well as having a mastery of tool building, and it's not easy to classify a human as herbivore or carnivore since it's more culture based rather than specie based.


  • $\begingroup$ Hi Hephaestus. Welcome to Worldbuilding SE. Nice starting answer! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! I'm still relatively new to SE in general, but it seems that it has everything the mind can think of! $\endgroup$
    – Hephaestus
    Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, your reputation gives you away. Don't hesitate to check the help center, or otherwise ask questions on Worldbuilding Meta or Worldbuilding Chat. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 18, 2015 at 11:56

Combat is violence, but that is pointless without a strategy, and strategy is the heart of war.

Carnivores tend to have a hard time ranging solo (covering lots of distance per day, day after day), surviving in various terrain (or even negotiating it sometimes), carrying loads, etc. Once out of their element carnivores are helpless.

Herbavores, on the other hand, tend to have athletic endurance, be fleet of foot, range very well, survive in harsh terrain, adapt well to drastic weather changes, etc. Herbavores are your scouts, support formations, signal corps, etc. If these animals can talk then they are probably also your builders and engineers, and a formation of engineers can easily be worth ten times their equivalent number in infantry because they are force multipliers (what they do leverages what violence you can already bring).

The outcome of battles is generally determined before they are fought. Most of the time each side thinks it has the upper hand, and is keeping as much about its own nature and disposition as secret as possible. All of the set-up work that determines whether a fight will be a win or loss happens before the engagement starts, and is the outcome of the employment of these herbavore formations.

War is movement, not toe-to-toe slugging it out against a perfectly matched foe (in war that is "stupidity", in a different context it is "regulated sport"). What does it matter when you are on a march to X when the enemy has already moved to Y? If the enemy is faster than your combat formations you must either locate them, or locate a target that will force them to assemble in its defense before they can pre-empt your move. This is all about battlefield intelligence, and you can probably only get that by employing swift, long-ranging anmials that survive well alone or in small groups -- and these are usually herbavores.

Also, all that other stuff people said about herbavores not being wimps -- that stuff too. Having encountered cougars, leopards, cape buffalo and elephants in the wild, I have to say I am much more afraid of bull elephants and cape buffalo than pretty much any other land animal (aside from humans). Actually, it is hard to imagine any formation of cat or wolf-like predators surviving a head-on formation battle against a determined formation of cape buffalo or elephants. That's why these predators target the weak, sick, deformed, crippled, unjured and young.


I would like to adress two points in your scenario.

First the main one, how to convince the carnivores to let the herbivores participate. You can't -- because the carnivores know that the herbivores are more dangerous and are, while competing among themselves, conspiring to keep herbivores deluded into believing that they are helpless prey. Any carnivore that suggests that they be allowed, let alone encouraged, to kill carnivores are immediately killed. Even pretending to listen or show them sympathy on the subject is dangerous.

Secondly, no tools. I don't think that can ever pass muster. There are various tool using animals today, how can you expect greater intelligence and social interaction to eliminate tool use?


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