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Digestive physiology of captive capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)


Kiani, Ali; Clauss, Marcus; Ortmann, Sylvia; Vendl, Catharina; Congdon, Elizabeth R; Herrera, Emilio A; Kreuzer, Michael; Schwarm, Angela (2019). Digestive physiology of captive capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris). Zoo Biology, 38(2):167-179.

Abstract

The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), the largest living rodent, probably has a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism. To test this hypothesis, we measured the mean retention time of a solute marker (MRTSolute), 2 mm (MRT2 mm), 10 mm (MRT10 mm), and 20 mm (MRT20 mm) particle markers and nutrient digestibility in adult captive capybaras (27–52 kg body mass (BM), 2–11 yr). In addition, total gut fill and the selectivity factor (MRTSolute/MRT2 mm) were calculated, and mean faecal particle size and metabolic fecal nitrogen of captive capybaras were compared to those of free‐ranging specimens. Finally, we also measured methane production in one animal. The MRT2 mm (29.2 ± 8.2 hr) was different (p < 0.01) from MRTSolute (37.0 ± 13.1 hr), MRT10 mm (36.5 ± 8.2 hr), and MRT20 mm (35.1 ± 9.6 hr). The selectivity factor (1.26 ± 0.30) was in the range considered typical for a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism. The estimated total gut fill was 1.50 ± 0.37% and 1.73 ± 0.25% of BM calculated from the results of the 2‐mm and 10‐mm particle markers, respectively. The CH4 emission was 13.7 L/day. Captive capybaras had greater mean fecal particle size (0.44 ± 0.06 vs. 0.29 ± 0.05 mm, p < 0.001) and metabolic fecal nitrogen (65.5 ± 3.91 vs. 46.8 ± 10.5% of fecal nitrogen, p < 0.001) than free‐ranging capybaras. Organic matter digestibility decreased less steeply with increasing dietary crude fiber content in capybaras as compared to published data from rabbits or guinea pigs. Accordingly, the digestive physiology of the capybara is characterized by a comparatively high fiber digestibility, with a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism, allowing capybaras to thrive on forage‐only diets.

Abstract

The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), the largest living rodent, probably has a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism. To test this hypothesis, we measured the mean retention time of a solute marker (MRTSolute), 2 mm (MRT2 mm), 10 mm (MRT10 mm), and 20 mm (MRT20 mm) particle markers and nutrient digestibility in adult captive capybaras (27–52 kg body mass (BM), 2–11 yr). In addition, total gut fill and the selectivity factor (MRTSolute/MRT2 mm) were calculated, and mean faecal particle size and metabolic fecal nitrogen of captive capybaras were compared to those of free‐ranging specimens. Finally, we also measured methane production in one animal. The MRT2 mm (29.2 ± 8.2 hr) was different (p < 0.01) from MRTSolute (37.0 ± 13.1 hr), MRT10 mm (36.5 ± 8.2 hr), and MRT20 mm (35.1 ± 9.6 hr). The selectivity factor (1.26 ± 0.30) was in the range considered typical for a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism. The estimated total gut fill was 1.50 ± 0.37% and 1.73 ± 0.25% of BM calculated from the results of the 2‐mm and 10‐mm particle markers, respectively. The CH4 emission was 13.7 L/day. Captive capybaras had greater mean fecal particle size (0.44 ± 0.06 vs. 0.29 ± 0.05 mm, p < 0.001) and metabolic fecal nitrogen (65.5 ± 3.91 vs. 46.8 ± 10.5% of fecal nitrogen, p < 0.001) than free‐ranging capybaras. Organic matter digestibility decreased less steeply with increasing dietary crude fiber content in capybaras as compared to published data from rabbits or guinea pigs. Accordingly, the digestive physiology of the capybara is characterized by a comparatively high fiber digestibility, with a “mucus‐trap” colonic separation mechanism, allowing capybaras to thrive on forage‐only diets.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Veterinary Clinic > Department of Small Animals
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
630 Agriculture
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Animal Science and Zoology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Animal Science and Zoology, General Medicine, colonic separation mechanism; hindgut fermenters; methane; passage kinetics
Language:English
Date:1 March 2019
Deposited On:28 Apr 2019 14:34
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 10:33
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0733-3188
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/zoo.21472
PubMed ID:30623974
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNF
  • : Grant ID310030_135252/1
  • : Project Title

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