Fiber digestion and energy utilization of fat sand rats (Psammomys obesus) consuming the chenopod Anabasis articulata

A. A. Degen, M. Kam, I. S. Khokhlova, Y. Zeevi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Most herbivorous rodents consume a variety of plants and, when available, select ones low in fiber content. In contrast, the fat sand rat (Psammomys obesus), a diurnal gerbillid rodent that is wholly herbivorous, is able to survive while consuming only the halophytic chenopod Anabasis articulata. We hypothesized that these gerbils are able to digest chenopods efficiently and that fiber digestion contributes substantially to their energy budget. Digestibility of total fibers (NDF), hemicellulose, and cellulose was 51.6%, 66.4%, and 44.0%, respectively. Energy derived from fiber digestion was 211.7 kJ kg-0.75 d-1 and resulted mostly from hemicellulose digestion. Average daily metabolic rate was 658.4 kJ kg-0.75 d-1, and basal metabolic rate (BMR) was determined to be close to 192.6 kJ kg-0.75 d-1. Therefore, fiber digestion provided 32% of maintenance requirements and 110% of BMR requirements, one of the highest values reported thus far for placental mammals. The efficiency of utilization of the chenopod was 0.29, a low value compared to other dietary items. We concluded that A. articulata fulfills all the energy and nutrient requirements of fat sand rats, even though energy yields and efficiency of utilization of its energy is low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-580
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume73
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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