Animal digestive systems

A digestive system is how you get nutrients from the food you eat. Nutrients help you grow and develop. Your stomach is part of your digestive system. How do your favorite animals digest the feed they eat?

Rhinos like to eat leaves and grassesMeet the rhino!

Hello little friends, I am the rhino! I live at the zoo and enjoy lying around in the mud. I like to eat grass and leaves. My digestive system is called monogastric (pronounced: mon-oh-gas-trik). Mono means one. That means that monogastric animals have only one compartment in their stomach. Horses are also monogastric animals.

My digestive system begins in my mouth. My teeth chomp up my feed until it is soft. After the feed has passed through my mouth, it is sent to my stomach. My stomach has liquid in it that turns the feed to mush. The mushy feed then moves through my small intestine and then my cecum.

My cecum absorbs fluids after digestion. My feed then goes through my large colon and then my small colon. When feed is in my cecum and colons, it goes through a process called hindgut fermentation. Fermentation is when helpful bacteria turn the feed into nutrients I can use! Thanks to hindgut fermentation, I can absorb the last nutrients I need before waste leaves my body.

Giraffes can reach leaves in tall treesMeet the giraffe!

Hello down there! I am the giraffe and I enjoy eating about 50 pounds of leaves every day! Because I am extremely tall, I can reach the highest trees. I am considered a ruminant animal. Ruminants are animals that have more than one compartment in the stomach. In fact, I have four compartments. My stomach is often compared to the stomach of a cow.

The first compartment is called the rumen. The rumen is like a large storage unit for the feed. The rumen has helpful bacteria that break down my feed. After my feed is broken down, I throw it back up in my mouth and chew on it. This is called chewing cud.

After I re-swallow my feed, the mixture passes on to my reticulum (pronounced: re-tik-you-lum). My reticulum collects bad objects, like nails, that I might eat accidentally. My feed then passes through my omasum (pronounced: oh-may-sum). My omasum absorbs some water and nutrients. Then my omasum pumps my feed to the abomasum. My abomasum is similar to your stomach. It uses liquid to finish breaking down feed. My feed moves through my intestines. I absorb some nutrients and the rest is removed through waste.

Flamingos like to eat shrimp!Meet the flamingo!

Hello, I am the pink flamingo. I enjoy living in a flock with other flamingos. I like to eat seafood like shrimp. My digestive system is similar to chickens. Our digestive system is called the avian digestive system. Avian describes birds, like me!

Unlike rhinos or giraffes, I do not have teeth. Instead, I use my beak to gather feed. I do not chomp up feed in my mouth. My feed goes down to the crop. The crop is where feed is stored. My crop makes my feed moist and easy to digest.

The feed is then sent through the proventriculus (pronounced: pro-ven-trik-you-lus). My proventriculus stores my feed. My feed is then mixed with liquids and sent to the gizzard. My gizzard is a very powerful muscle because it grinds up my feed. Like many other birds, I eat pebbles to help crush my feed.

After the feed is crushed in my gizzard, it passes through my small intestine. My small intestine is where nutrients are absorbed. I need these nutrients to grow and function. My feed is then passed through my large intestine and then the rest is waste.

Fun Facts!

Did you know that horses can’t throw up? This is because the esophagus in horses has a one-way movement. It prevents feed from coming back up. The esophagus is the tube that connects the your throat to your stomach.

Flamingos are usually pink because they eat lots of shrimp. Shrimp have carotenoids in their bodies. Carotenoids are color pigments that make a flamingo's feathers pink!