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Digestive physiology and caecal fermentative activity in the greater cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus)

Author(s): Magloire YAPI | Thierry GIDENNE | Yves FARIZON | Muriel SEGURA | Daniel ZONGO | Francis ENJALBERT

Journal: African Zoology
ISSN 1562-7020

Volume: 47;
Issue: 2;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: cane rat | digestive physiology | caecum | fermentative activity | Thryonomys

The greater cane rat is a recently domesticated monogastric herbivore, and the importance of the caecum in the functioning of its digestive tract has frequently been mentioned. This experiment aimed to study digestive anatomy and cæcal fermentation of the growing cane rat. Twenty four cane rats were used from weaning to 103 days of age. They received a pelleted diet contained 12.5% of crude protein and 16.7% of ADF. Twelve animals were in a collective pen while 12 others were bred in individual cages for growth and feed intake measurements. At weaning, 82 and 103 days of age, six animals were sacrificed for gut parameters measurements and caecal sampling. The growth rate increased with age (P < 0.01) while the relative feed intake did not vary (P > 0.05). The caecum represented the largest compartment of the digestive tract with more than 40% of total gut contents. Acetate was the most abundant volatile fatty acid with more than 70% of total, followed by propionate and butyrate. Acetate proportion increased with age (P < 0.01) while propionate proportion decreased (P < 0.001) and butyrate proportion did not change.  The propionate / butyrate ratio tended to decreased with age (P=0.05). Ammonia concentration did not vary with age (P > 0.05). It is concluded that the caecum has a major fermentative activity in the growing cane rat.
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