If Cellulose Is Very Hard To Digest, Then How Are Herbivores Able To Get Enough Nutrition Out Of Just Eating Leaves And Grass?


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Herbivores eat lots of plant material, which is full of sugar and fibre, the only problem is it is very difficult to digest due to the chemical bonds holding it together. The only animals that can ferment and digest cellulose are herbivores and ruminants (horses, cows, sheep, etc.) This is due to there digestive system having evolved with time. The herbivores use the caecum, which contains pockets of bacteria, protozoa and fungi, to break up cellulose. Ruminants use their 4 stomachs to break up the chemical bonds.

Herbivores - e.g. Horse, break up fibre such as cellulose in the hind-gut. The majority of the fermentation of cellulose is done in the caecum which contains a wide variety of bacteria, protozoa and fungi.  The caecum has a capacity of approx 30 litres and is approx 1m long.

Ruminants have 4 stomachs which help with digestion of cellulose. The 4 stomachs are called Rummen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The reticulum contains anaerobic bacteria, protozoa, and some fungi. The extent to which cellulose is digested depends on lignin.

I am studying animal behaviour science, just to let you know that this information is legit. I got this information off one of my units called nutritional science.

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