Fiber digestion and energy utilization of fat sand rats (Psammomys obesus) consuming the chenopod Anabasis articulata. Academic Article uri icon


  • 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 ch...

publication date

  • January 1, 2000