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.
A rabbit's stomach comprises approximately 15% of total gastrointestinal volume. It has a well-developed cardiac sphincter that prevents vomiting.
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. The gastric pH may rise to 3.0 following the ingestion of cecotrophs.
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.
The small intestine of the rabbit is the primary site of absorption of nutrients such as amino acids, lips, monosaccharides, and electrolytes.
Example videos of normal gut movment.
- House Rabbit Society of Chicago, Susan A. Brown, DVM, Rabbit GI Physiology and Nutrition
- House Rabbit Society, Marinell Harriman, Digestibility in the Rabbit Diet
- MediRabbit, Ron Rees Davies, BVSc, CertZooMed, MRCVS, & Jennifer A.E. Rees Davies, BVSc, MSc, MRCVS, Rabbit gastrointestinal physiology
- Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund, Dr. Anna Meredith, The Rabbit digestive system: A delicate balance. (PDF) Published Winter 2010.
- Dummies.com, Exploring a Rabbit's Unique Digestive System
- HopperHome, Rabbit Diet
- RabbitKeeper, Rabbit Digestion
- Genesis Extruded Rabbit Food, Digestion and Cecotrophy of the Rabbit
- Quesenberry, K & Carpenter, J. (2012). Ferrets, Rabbits, and Rodents: Clinical Medicine and Surgery. (3rd ed.).