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Rabbit Diet

Lettuce 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 esophagus.

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 stomach.

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 living room!.

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 "cecotrophes" directly.  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.

Click on any of the pictures below to go to a page on that subject:

 

Rabbit Digestive System picture above is copyrighted by Connie Andrews.

 

 

 

 

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