Cellulose is an important component in the diet of herbivorous animals. It is present in the cell wall of plant cells. Humans cannot digest cellulose.
Rumination And Ruminants
Grass eating animals like the cow, ox, buffalo and sheep swallow the food without chewing. After feeding, they bring the food from the stomach back into the mouth and chew it leisurely. This process is called rumination, and such animals are called ruminants.
- The stomach of a ruminant is divided into four chambers – the rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasums. Among these, the rumen is the largest.
- The partially digested food in the rumen is called cud.
- Micro-organisms present in the stomach of the cow help digest the cellulose.
- Digestion in ruminants is a good example of symbiosis.
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Digestion in Ruminants
- Grass-eating animals like cows, sheep, buffaloes and goats do not chew their food properly. Instead, they swallow it quickly and store it in the rumen.
- In the rumen, the digestive juices partially digest the food. The partially digested food in the rumen is called cud.
- Partially chewed food is pushed down through the oesophagus into the rumen.
- The cud is brought back to the mouth to be chewed properly. The process of chewing cud is called rumination. Rumination is also called second chewing.
- Animals that partially digest food in the rumen and bring it back to the mouth for additional chewing of the cud are called ruminants.
- A large sac-like structure, called the caecum, lies between the small and large intestines.
- Ruminants have green plants as their food. These plants contain a type of complex carbohydrate, called cellulose.
- In the caecum, a kind of symbiotic bacteria helps digest cellulose. In ruminants, a major part of all carbohydrates, including the complex carbohydrates such as cellulose and hemi-cellulose, is digested by bacterial action.
- These symbiotic bacteria are not present in the human digestive system. That is why humans cannot digest cellulose
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