Fun Facts About the Rabbit Digestive Tract
Rabbits have a very unique GI tract compared to other species. Keep reading to learn a few fun facts about your pet rabbit. You never know - there might be a rabbit section next time you play trivia!
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1. Rabbits produce 2 different types of feces!
The majority of the fecal material you see is the firm fecal balls made of indigestible fiber and other material. The other fecal material is called a cecotrophy. These are softer and smaller fecal material. The cecotrophs contain good GI bacteria and nutrients that the rabbits can use again. The rabbit will eat the cecotrophs directly from the anus, usually at night.
2. Rabbits have a very developed section of the large intestines called the cecum.
This is a blind-ended pouch at the junction of the small and large intestines. The cecum is responsible for making the cecotrophs and is involved in fermentation and absorption of nutrients.
3. Over 40% of the ingested food material is located in the cecum at any given time!
This is another reason why the cecum is so vital to the health of your rabbit's digestive system.
4. Rabbits cannot vomit.
The stomach of the rabbit has a strong sphincter where the esophagus and stomach join which prevents rabbits from vomiting.
5. Rabbits need to ingest high-fiber foods to maintain a healthy GI tract.
Both digestible and indigestible fibers are needed to feed the microflora and make the GI tract move. Carbohydrates and sugars lead to reduced GI motility, gas formation, and an unhealthy microflora that can be painful and even fatal.
6. All of the rabbit’s teeth continually grow throughout their life.
Rough foods like hay help to file down the teeth.
7. Rabbits have baby teeth.
They lose these baby teeth (also called deciduous teeth) before or just after birth, so we really only see their adult teeth.
8. Rabbits can develop hairballs, but unlike cats, they cannot vomit them back up.
Hairballs can lead to obstruction in the stomach or small intestines. Be sure to brush your bunny regularly to help remove the loose hair.
9. Stomach acid in rabbits is very low compared to other species in order to help break down the roughage they eat.
The small intestines then release bicarbonate to neutralize the strong acid once the material is out of the stomach.
10. There is a large amount of lymphoid tissue in the GI tract which is very important in overall immune health.
Having a healthy GI tract helps keep the entire body healthy!
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