Saturday, May 13, 2006


Herbivorous animals eat vegetation; they eat only the plants materials (3). It seems as majority of the herbivorous animals live in the grasslands environments however some also live in the water (3). These types of animals are found to be living in groups (3).

The herbivores are divided into two groups, namely the ruminants, which includes giraffe, camel, antelopes and the non – ruminants, which includes zebra, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros (4). The ruminant herbivores are found to have four chambers in their stomachs, namely rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasums (4), the diet they eat go through all these chambers. According to (Antelopes, 2001), there is no need for the ruminant herbivores to drink a lot of water, because their food are mixed with saliva in the rumen (Findlay, 1998).

(Bob, 1999) mentioned that the non ruminants assimilate fat, carbohydrates and protein by means of enzymatic action. These herbivores need to eat lots of food so that they can have enough nutrition (4). Most of the foods they excrete are not digested (4).

According to (Antelopes, 2001), grasses are not easily digested, so the herbivores animals must have bacteria in their bodies. The bacteria split the grass in order to release energy (4). (Findlay, 1998) mentioned that couples of bacteria and protozoa are found in the first chamber of the ruminants herbivores. Findlay, 1998 further explained the responsibility of the protozoa and the bacteria, which is to crash cellulose. Ruminants seems to be coping with the cellulose available in their diets (Findlay, 1998)

Only the ruminant herbivorous animal seems to reduce the problems of digestion or they are not experiencing this problem of digestion only because they are having four parts in their stomachs (Findlay, 1998).

The ruminants chew their food like the sheep during the day (3). When a ruminant swallows, “the food goes into the first stomach, called the rumen. During the night, the animal brings food back into its mouth from its first stomach. This is called regurgitating the food. The food is chewed well again before it is swallowed into the second stomach, called the cud” (2).

The ruminant herbivores are unlikely to experience the digestion problems and this helps them to maintain their bodies or gain more. The problems of digestion take place in non ruminant’s animals. The herbivores animals have less energy compared to the carnivore’s animals because the plants materials are lower than meat in energy content. So they need large quantity of food so that they can meet the energy required for their bodies” (Findlay, 1998).

In conclusion, indeed some of the herbivorous really suffered the digestion problem. They suffered because they had small intestine, except the ruminant’s animals which had four chambers in their stomachs. The ruminant’s animals became larger as compared to other animals because they were able to deal with the process of digestion and getting their energy required.


[1]. Findlay A.L.R. The Gastrointestinal System: an introduction Carnivores, Omnivores and Herbivores [Internet] 1998, [, accessed on 12/05/2006, 08:30].

[2]. Melissa Kaplan. Herp Care Collection [Internet] A very brief overview of digestion in green iguanas and other herbivorous lizard species, 1995. [Cited 2006 May 12, 09:00]. Available from:

[3]. Paul Billiet and Shirley Burchill. The Open Door Web Site [, accessed on 12/05/2006, 10:00].

[4]. Antelopes (2001). [Online], available from:

[5]. Dr. Bob Wright, 1999. [Internet]. Equine Digestive Tract Structure and Function. Available from:

Ms Evelyn Maleka
P.O. Box 395
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 841 2133
Fax: 012 842 7024.


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