Rabbit Digestion (pencernaan kelinci)
Digestion begins in the mouth. The food is mashed up by the teeth and mixed with saliva, which contains proteins that begin breaking down the food. When the food is swallowed it enters the stomach where it is mixed with stomach acid and digestive enzymes, which continue the digestion process. It then moves out of the stomach into the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the body, and then it continues on into the large intestine where the food particles are sorted by size. The larger particles of indigestible fiber drive the smaller fragments of digestible fiber backwards into the cecum, which is a large blind-ended sac located at the junction of the small and large intestines. The indigestible particles are then passed out in the fecal pellets (regular poop) and the cecum begins the fermentation process that will produce what is commonly referred to as night feces or cecotropes, which a rabbit will ingest directly from the anus. You can tell the difference between normal feces and cecotrophes by their soft, shiny clumped texture and often more pungent odor.
A rabbit’s cecum maintains a delicate mix of protozoa, yeast and good bacteria, which is crucial to keeping your rabbit healthy. If something upsets the delicate bacterial balance (such as stress; some oral antibiotics such as penicillin & related drugs; a high fat, low fiber diet; too many carbohydrates, etc.), bad bacteria will begin to grow. These bad bacteria produce toxins that can be harmful or fatal to your rabbit. On the other hand, the products of good cecal fermentation are crucial to healthy gut flora, because through coprophagy, the oral re-ingestion of the cecal pellets produced by this fermentation process, the rabbit can absorb by normal digestion the special nutrients and vitamins contained in the cecal pellets. Some evidence suggests that bacteria from these [re-ingested] cecal pellets help the food digest while in the stomach (Laura Tessmer, B.Sc. and Susan Smith, Ph.D: Rabbit Nutrition 1998).