Digestive System of Rabbit

Digestive System of Rabbit

The rabbit is an herbivore, or more particularly a folivore, designed to exist on a diet of succulent green vegetation. Nevertheless, its small size implies it has an alike high metabolic rate (which restricts its capability to exist on a low energy concentration diet plan) and makes it an extremely looked for prey (which requires to be nimble and athletic to outrun predators).

To cope with these problems the rabbit has actually developed a gastrointestinal system radically various to that of the much better-known herbivores such as the horse (a colon fermenter) and the ruminants (gastric fermenters).

The “hind-gut fermenters,” indicating that they have an organ called the “cecum” that works much like the rumen of a cow, however, instead of being at the start of the digestive system it is at completion. The cecum is full of special microorganisms that break down and absorb the different fibers and other feedstuffs that get in the cecum.

Parts of Digestive System

The mouth is a transverse slit-like terminal aperture situated a little below the anterior pointer of the snout. The mouth is bounded by two soft mobile and muscular lips. These are externally covered by hairy skin and internally lined with mucous membranes. The upper lip is divided by a mean cleft extending up to the nostrils. Through this cleft, the upper incisors stay exposed outwardly even when the mouth is closed.

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The mouth opens into a narrow vertical area, called the vestibule, present in between lips and cheeks and gums of the jaws. Its mucous membrane consists of mucous secreting glands.

Buccal Cavity:

The vestibule opens into a large roomy buccal cavity in between the jaws. It is lined by the mucous membrane and contains the palate, tongue, and teeth.


Once the food is swallowed, it passes through the esophagus. The esophagus is essentially a tube that moves food from the mouth to the stomach.



Rabbits have a fairly large stomach to allow for holding of large meals since they are crepuscular, indicating they eat primarily at dawn and sunset. As soon as food remains in the stomach, it begins to be broken down through hydrolytic and enzymatic food digestion, which means acid and enzymes are used to break down the compounds to a smaller sized size.

The primary secretions of the stomach include mucus, hydrochloric acid, and pepsin. The muscles of the stomach churn or blend the food with stomach secretions. At this point, the mix is called chyme, or digesta.

Small Intestine:

The very first part of the small intestine is the duodenum which runs in reverse, then kips down front forming a U-shaped loop. In the loop of the duodenum, a pinkish diffused structure is found which is referred to as the pancreas.

The pancreatic duct from the pancreas opens in the proximal part of the distal limb of the duodenum and the bile duct opens in the proximal limb. The duodenum passes into the jejunum and the ileum. There is no morphological difference between the two. Both are tubular, extremely coiled determining about 7 to 8 feet in length and it fills the huge part of the abdominal cavity.

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Large intestine and cecum

The last and final areas of the digestion system are the large intestine and cecum. The cecum is a blind sac, or pouch, that comes off the junction of the small and large intestines. It lies where the appendix is in humans. The big intestine, or colon, is the section that continues from the small intestine to the anus of the animal. Any undigested food and all the fiber from the rabbit’s diet will pass from the small intestine to the big intestinal tract.

At this moment, the rabbit’s gastrointestinal system is able to sort the product into two portions– that which can be more broken down and used and that which cannot.

The material that cannot be broken down any further, such as indigestible fiber, passes straight into the large intestine. Here water is reabsorbed and the product is passed.

The product that can be broken down further, mostly soluble fiber and proteins, moves into the cecum, a large blind sac. The cecum may be the most vital part of the digestion system of the rabbit. The cecum has 10 times the capability of the stomach of the bunny.

Here massive quantities of microorganisms and bacteria live. These bacteria ferment, or digest, the product that enters the cecum and utilizes it to produce their own cells, proteins, and vitamins. The bacteria turn the indigestible fiber into absorbable nutrients.


About 8 hours after a meal, the material from the cecum is packaged into a small wet pellet called a cecotrope. When the rabbit is ready to pass the cecotrope, a signal is sent out to the rabbit’s brain causing the cecotrope to be taken in by the rabbit as it is being expelled.

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This permits the product to go through the entire digestion system once again and let the rabbit get extra nutrients from the plant material. This process, called cecotrophy, allows rabbits to utilize high-fiber plant products that other animals might not have the ability to.