Digestive system

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Rabbits are true herbivores and are classified as hindgut fermenters. Their gastrointestinal tract is relatively long, and its contents can make up 10 to 20 percent of their body weight.[1]

Stomach

A rabbit's stomach comprises approximately 15% of total gastrointestinal volume.[1] It has a well-developed cardiac sphincter that prevents vomiting.

The stomach usually contains hair, food, and fluid even after 24 hours of fasting or anorexia. Gastric transit time is approximately 3 to 6 hours.[1]

How acidic is a rabbit's stomach?

A rabbit's stomach is extremely acidic with a pH of 1 to 2 and effectively kills bacteria and other microorganisms so that the stomach and small intestine are essentially sterile.[1] The gastric pH may rise to 3.0 following the ingestion of cecotrophs.[1]

In pre-weaned juvenile rabbits, the stomach's pH is higher at pH 5.0 to 6.5; after weaning, it drops to pH 2 to 3. Consequently, weanling rabbits are more prone to diarrhea because the stomach pH is not low enough to kill ingested bacteria.[1]

Small intestine

The small intestine of the rabbit is the primary site of absorption of nutrients such as amino acids, lips, monosaccharides, and electrolytes.

Video Examples

Example videos of normal gut movment.

An example video of how the normal wave action from peristalsis in a rabbit's gastrointestinal tract system looks. source
Another example of how a rabbit's GI tract contracts & squeezes food forward while the muscles in front of the food relaxes to allow the food to move.source
For comparison... this video shows a rabbit's stomach moment roughly 16 hours before giving birth. source


Further reading

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Quesenberry, K & Carpenter, J. (2012). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. (3rd ed.).