What did the animals eat on Noah's Ark?

Assume, for a moment, that the biblical story of Noah’s Ark is 100% accurate (I’m an agnostic myself, so I’m no authority on this. But I asked someone who spent 12 years in Christian school, and a friend who is a seminary student. Neither could answer this). That Noah took two of every animal, etc.

How was the food chain affected on the voyage? I mean, what did the carnivores eat? I wouldn’t imagine that they were allowed to feed on the other animals. Were there supplies of meat available to them? What about the herbivores?

And, now that I think of it, did it have accomodations for water-based creatures? Did Noah bring two sharks on board, or were they just limited to land-based creatures on board?

And how did the clean up go? I imagine the stench would have been unbearable.

IIRC, there is a long-standing theory that God put all the animals to sleep for the duration. This eliminated problems of predators going after the prey, what to feed the Beasts, and how to clean up and dispose of the poop. Look in Robert Graves’ book Hebrew Myths for references. And, as always, take Graves with more than a grain of salt.

Why, unicorn, of course. What did you think happened to them?

Seriously, IIRC God tells Noah to take one pair of each unclean beast and seven pairs of each clean (i.e. sacrificible and edible) beast, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the extra pairs were meant for lion fodder.


According to the Talmud, Noah and his family did not have an easy year in the Ark. They worked, literally, around the clock, feeding the animals at their proper time. The story is even related that a lion attacked Noah, because it was not fed at the proper time.

As to where the food came from, you have two choices: (a) God provided the food or (b) Noah gathered it, and it was somehow miraculously preserved for the animals and people for the duration.


According to Jewish commentators, only land animals were brought on the Ark.

ATJT, the bottom level of the Ark was used for animal waste and refuse. And yes, it may have stunk to high heaven, or it may have been miraculously taken care of.

Zev Steinhardt

The dinosaurs!

Ham. They ate Ham.

OK. So Noah didn’t feed Ham to the animals. But I bet he wanted to.

Fried trilobite, boiled trilobite, baked trilobite, trilobite stew, trilobite pot pie, trilobite burgers, trilobite salad, trilobite sashimi, barbeque trilobite, trilobite surprise, trilobite lasagna, trilobite sausage, trilobite burritos, trilobite sandwiches. That’s about all…

details get in the way of hyperbole

Well, I suppose the water animals wouldn’t all die out from a massive flooding, except for maybe the ones which are sensitive to changes in salt levels.

Noah might have fed fish to the animals! Fish and seaweed. Mmmmmm…

(b) is correct: Genesis 6:21 states that Noah was commanded to lay in a supply of food for all of the occupants of the ark, human and animal. (Although the commentary Kli Yakar adds that Noah could never have gathered enough food to supply all of the animals’ needs, in the natural way, for an entire year; he explains that G-d was telling Noah to do whatever he could, and that He would bless his efforts by arranging matters so that a little food would go a long way.)

As for preservation: Rashi (to verse 18 there) comments that G-d’s covenant with Noah, referred to in that verse, includes a promise that the food would be miraculously preserved for the duration of the flood.

Re the OP’s question about the carnivores and the food chain: there is a statement somewhere in Jewish literature - I don’t recall where just now, although I believe it’s in the Zohar - that G-d caused all of the animals to be herbivorous for the duration of the flood. [This same source also adds that this was a throwback to the state of affairs at Creation, when all living creatures were herbivorous (Gen. 1:30), as well as a preview of the Messianic era, when “the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (Isaiah 11:7).] I don’t know if this is unanimously accepted, though, since the Talmud (Sanhedrin 108b) tells how Noah finally figured out that the zikis (chameleon?) needs worms in its diet.

G-d commanded Noah to gather all food that the animals would want. Genesis 6:21.

One assumes that Noah had means of preservation and storage. Perhaps he even had some live animals on board which he marked as food and not as breeding pairs.

Well, I’m not sure about the main part of their diet but I understand every afternoon about 4:30 they had some animal crackers.

Oh yeah, Cal, I dig Robert Graves!

Egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, sausage, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam.

Nonbelievers, of course.

The menu was quite boring actually… had to repeat every fourth day.

1st day breakfast… Unicorn
1st day lunch… Dragon
1st day dinner… Griffin
2nd day breakfast… Harpy
2nd day lunch… Phoenix
2nd day dinner… Kraken
3rd day breakfast… Pegasus
3rd day lunch… Manticore
3rd day dinner… Sphinx

Oh, and spam on the side…

Actually, they took along a large number of elephants, and (it being very wet) there was a plentiful supply of gnats.

Surprisingly, they found that they could swallow the elephants whole, but choked on the gnats.

In addition to the pairs of animals, they also took along on the ark a pair of theologians. Luckily the theologians did not feel any hunger and bother Noah for food, because they were too busy arguing about how many angels fit on the head of a pin to worry about trivialities.