What Do Manatees Eat? and Other Fun Facts About Manatees

Close up Face of a Manatee

Manatees, commonly known as the 'sea cow', are different than most other types of marine life. They need air to survive, and they drink fresh water. They don't have vertebrae in their neck that would allow them to turn their heads. To see in an opposite direction, they must move their entire bodies. In short bursts, manatees can swim up to 15 miles per hour.

There are so many interesting facts about manatees out there. Everything Manatee aims to help ensure the health and survival of the manatee species. We are here to inform others about the sea cow. 

Read on to learn everything that you've ever wanted to know about manatees, including "What do manatees eat?"

What Is the Manatees Scientific Classification?

Manatees are in the Mammalia class. They are considered to be from the Sirenia. They belong to the family of trichechidae and dugongidae. The different types of manatees might include:

  • Trichechus manatus or West Indian Manatee
  • Trichechus senegalensis or West African Manatee
  • Trichechus inunguis or Amazonian Manatee

They have flippers that help them to swim in the strong currents of coastal waters and to navigate through shallower waters where they might live. It is possible that the manatee may have inspired folklore about mermaids.

How Long Do Manatees Live?

Manatees live approximately 60 years. The oldest living manatee lived to be 69 years old before dying in an accident at the aquarium.

Where Do Manatees Live?

Even though manatees live in the water, they still need to surface for air. They take up residence in warm tropical and/or subtropical waters. These might be rivers, bays, canals, estuaries, lagoons, and coastal areas. They can be found in the coastal waters of Florida, the Caribbean, South Africa, and the Amazon.

Do Manatees Migrate?

Yes! Manatees love the warmer waters. When their preferred water spots drop below 68°F, they will move to warmer waters for the colder seasons. 

What Do Manatees Eat?

Manatees are mostly known to be herbivores, though they have been known to eat fish. The manatee diet is made up of a variety of different wet vegetation and plants including turtle grass, shoal grass, algae, hyacinth, and acorns. They need to eat up to 10% of their body weight daily. This means that they consume between 32 and 108 pounds of food. They also need to drink fresh water. 

What Is Reproduction Like for Manatees?

Pregnancies for manatees last approximately 12 months. The babies are about 66 pounds at birth. They are weaned by their mothers for the first 12 to 18 months of their lives. 

These sea cows are on average 13 feet long and 1300 pounds.

Why Is the Population of Manatees Declining?

The manatees' population is declining because they are being hunted for their meat. Their habitats are getting destroyed by boating and pollution. The reproduction rates for manatees are lower than ever.

Manatees: the Sea Cows

So, what do manatees eat? How do they live? Hopefully, we've answered all of your questions with our interesting facts about the 'sea cow'. Manatees are different from almost every other type of animal in the water and on land. They live unique lives in coastal regions all around the world. They live in the water though they still need air to breathe. 

Contact Everything Manatee today for more information about manatees and how you can help support the health and survival of the manatee species.


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