start learning about Rabbit Digestion!
See the picture below.
It isnít to scale, but close enough to give you an idea of what a
rabbitís digestive system looks like. A
rabbit eats food and chews it about 300 cycles side to side and it goes down
The food goes into the
stomach, but the real action isnít there.
The stomach stores the food and the contents are sterilized and moved
to the small intestine.
While in the small
intestine up to 90% of the protein, starches and sugar are absorbed from the
food. Then the undigested fiberous
material moves on and is sorted.
The fiber goes to the colon forming hard waste.
The remaining food is then ready for digestion goes into the cecum which is larger than the
hard waste that bypasses the cecum is moved through the colon in a circular
motion and forms perfectly round hard balls (see photo below on the right).
There are two scent
glands and either side of the anus. This
scent is deposited on the waste pellets as they pass.
That is why the rabbit uses these pellets to mark territory all over your
The cecum is a
complicated organ that redigests
the food. It is filled with enzymes
and bacteria that breakdown food. Every 3 to 8 hours the cecum contracts and forces the
material back into the colon where it is coated with mucus, then
passed through the anus (looks like a clump of small brown grapes) and the rabbit eats these
Yuck! (See cecotrophes on left in photo below.) Fortunately, this usually happens at night. The
rabbit redigests the cecotrophes to receive even more nutrients from
them. It is a very important part of the
digestive process and keeps your rabbit healthy!
Cecotrophes pictured are on the left and
hard waste on the right.
Thanks to Miss Tansy for her contribution.
on any of the pictures below to go to a page on that subject: