Oxalate balance in fat sand rats feeding on high and low calcium diets

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11 Scopus citations


Oxalate reduces calcium availability of food because it chelates calcium, forming the sparingly soluble salt calcium-oxalate. Nevertheless, fat sand rats (Psammomys obesus; Gerbillinae) feed exclusively on plants containing much oxalate. We measured the effects of calcium intake on oxalate balance by comparing oxalate intake and excretion in wild fat sand rats feeding on their natural, oxalate-rich, calcium-poor diet with commercially-bred fat sand rats feeding on an artificial, calcium-rich, oxalate-poor diet of rodent pellets. We also tested for the presence of the oxalate degrading bacterium Oxalobacter sp. in the faeces of both groups. Fat sand rats feeding on saltbush ingested significantly more oxalate than fat sand rats feeding on pellets (P < 0.001) and excreted significantly more oxalate in urine and faeces (P < 0.01 for both). However the fraction of oxalate recovered in excreta [(oxalate excreted in urine + oxalate excreted in faeces)/oxalate ingested] was significantly higher in pellet-fed fat sand rats (61%) than saltbush-fed fat sand rats (27%). We found O. sp. in the faeces of both groups indicating that fat sand rats harbor oxalate degrading bacteria, and these are able, to some extent, to degrade oxalate in its insoluble form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-622
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2008


  • Calcium
  • Fat sand rats
  • Oxalaobacter
  • Oxalate
  • Saltbush

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology


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