What Animals Can Eat Plastics? Plastivore Species (2023)

Plastics have always been a concern to the world’s growth. The dumping, reusing, and harmful gases it releases while burning can lead to various life-threatening diseases because animals eat plastics as food items.

Plastic can never be a safe option to consider in this globally growing world. Over the years, scientists have been looking for every possibility of finding the right cure for plastic decomposition, yet no one can identify its possible outcomes.

Many times the need for elements decomposing plastic has ever caused serious ailments that are not only harmful yet injurious to humans and every other living being present in the world.

Whenever innocent animals eat plastics, it never goes into breaking down, yet it chokes them that causes the animal to die in a moment. In recent studies, the Percentage of plastic is reduced drastically with the growth in the world.

This has taken the research to a different level. Many universities like Brandon University, Northwestern University, and Portland State University have released articles regarding the species that help in decomposing plastic waste.

It was found that certain species in the world can digest plastic or they can decompose it. Let’s find out these species that are truly a savior to this world from plastic. Let’s get into this article.

What is a Plastivore?

Plastic Eating Caterpillars
Plastic Eating Caterpillars | Credit: Twitter/BrandonUni

Plastivore is a term commonly used for those species that use plastics as their carbon and energy source. A Plastivore species can be a valuable alternative to this ongoing pattern of pollution.

However, an army of plastic-eating animals is insufficient as a good amount is required to decompose every bit of plastic present on Earth. Plastics have become an eternal addition to almost everything present on Earth.

It is widely used in medicines, clothes, utensils, and other fields. However, the search is going on for every species that can decompose plastic.

What Animals Can Eat Plastics?

Recently, researchers have proved that there are certain species present on Earth that can decompose plastic and are doing the same. These species use plastic as their prime source of energy, which is eventually helpful in bringing a positive biodegradable impact on the Earth.

Consuming plastic is potentially hazardous to health as it doesn’t break down on its own. Animals consuming plastics, considering them as food, have been found begging for life, and some die eventually. 

Certain Plastivore species present, such as:

1) Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar

Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar
Greater Wax Moth Caterpillar eating wax comb down to the plastic foundation| Credit: Lyle Buss, University of Florida (researchgate)

Waxworms are a blessing to the plastic decomposing area. They have been an impactful species decomposing plastic with their saliva. The saliva of waxworms holds potential enzymes that gradually break down plastics.

It was first reported that the enzyme helps break down polyethylene at room temperature. This point can become a positive remark in decomposing plastic material present on earth. Wax Moth Caterpillars munch on Polyethene, and pollen, lose bee skins, and sometimes on cocoons.

2) Mealworm

Mealworms are another species of animal that has the potential to digest polystyrene, a compound used in making foam. Mealworms can wash out the plastic within seconds.

Although, only one mealworm can never cause a great impact. However, approximately 2000-4000 mealworms help decompose styrofoam pieces in a week, mealworms can destroy styrofoam pieces.

So, mealworms are potentially secure and fruitful in this world. Specifically, mealworms like to eat oatmeal, cornmeal, and other food items crushed and mixed into grains.

3) Superworm

Superworm eating thermocol | Credit: Tiffanie Turnbull BBC

A species of insects commonly in the category of a larva, super worms do munch on plastic. This species can revolutionize plastic problems. These little wigglers use their ravenous diet to reduce the harmful impact of plastic by removing it bit by bit.

Many of us get creepy vibes when we encounter any work around us. However, not every bug you see is creepy; some of them are extremely helpful for our world.

Recently, BBC News published an article that will give an insight into the need of such species of Earth: Plastic-eating superworms offer hope for recycling.

Super worms are constantly eating plastics and bringing out the change we have been looking for for many years. Super worms are likely to eat decaying vegetation, tree barks, leaves, and other animals.

4) Indian Mealworm

Specifically considering a region. Here is a mealworm that is on the list to decompose plastic to save you from this hazardous world. The poisonous impact of plastic is a must to reduce.

Indian Mealworms are efficient in reducing plastic waste to a great amount. They have received their name due to their body similarity to corn.

These species of small animals are bringing the revolution we need, and the government is taking initiatives to reduce them. The need to reduce plastic and its impact on the world will surely bring positive change.

Other Species of Animals That Have shown Amazing Results In Plastic Reduction

In Plants

  • Pestalotiopsis Microspora

Recently, University of Colorado Boulder released an article on the wild mushrooms that helps in decomposing plastic.

This unique species of wild endophytic fungus can decompose plastic. Thai species of mushroom targets digest polyurethane, a polymer that has its branching spread densely.

It consumes plastic material and converts it into organic matter. Also, the plus point for this species is that it can live without oxygen which implies its dominance in decomposing at a good rate.

Truly, this species has added a step ahead in ‘Saving this Planet’ from the deadly plastic and its compounds.

In Microorganisms

  • Rhodococcus

In Microorganisms, plastic degradation characteristics are found in this specie. This species of microorganisms have the potential to reduce plastic on Earth.

Scientists have also proved this by performing a laboratory experiment that justifies bacteria eating plastic. Usually, in bacteria, Pseudomonas species can easily degrade 21% of plastic compounds in a tremendous month.

Usually, animals eat plastics from the dump area found on Earth. Everyone must take the initiative to reduce the use of plastic by every passing year.


With every year passing, the concern of reducing plastic waste and its impact has brought tensions. However, the species having the capability to degrade plastic waste material has brought insight into reducing plastic on this planet.

Much research has been going on in the same context, hoping to get positive news in the coming years. Some animals eat plastics by mistake, which gradually fails their body, due to which they die.

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