Difference Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals

The main difference between ruminant and non-ruminant animals is that ruminant animals are herbivores whereas non-ruminant animals are omnivores or carnivores. Thus, ruminant animals have a complex rumen to digest plant material while non-ruminant animals have a simple stomach since their food is easy to digest.

Ruminant and non-ruminant animals are two types of animals with different digestive purposes. Apart from that, the general anatomy of both digestive system is similar.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Ruminant Animals
     – Definition, Features, Examples
2. What are Non Ruminant Animals
     – Definition, Features, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Digestive System Components, Non Ruminant Animals, Ruminant Animals, Rumination, Stomach

Difference Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals - Comparison Summary

What are Ruminant Animals

Ruminant animals are herbivores with a complex stomach called a rumen. Some examples of ruminant animals are cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes and camels. One of the most significant features of the ruminant digestive system is the presence of a complex stomach with four compartments. They are rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum. The first three compartments, the rumen, reticulum, and omasum break down plant fibers by fermentation with the help of microflora. This fermentation results in volatile fatty acids such as acetate, butyrate, and propionate. Hence, this process is called the foregut fermentation. The forth compartment secretes digestive enzymes.

Difference Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals

Figure 1: Rumen

Also, these animals ruminate or completely digest the food by chewing the cud. The four processes of rumination are;

  1. Regurgitation: Vomiting the cud from the stomach to the mouth
  2. Re-mastication : Biting and grinding food inside the mouth
  3. Re-salivation : Secretion and mixing of saliva with the food
  4. Re-swallow : Taking back the food to the stomach

What are Non Ruminant Animals

Non-ruminant animals are omnivores or carnivores with a single stomach compartment within the digestive system. Hence, the digestive system of the non-ruminant animals is called monogastirc. Some examples of non-ruminant animals are human, horse, swine, fowl, dog, and rabbit. The components of the non-ruminant digestive system are mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

Main Difference - Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals

Figure 2: Non Ruminant Stomach

Non-ruminant animals do not chew the cud. Also, they do not digest the plant materials such as cellulose through fermentation.

Similarities Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals

  • Ruminant and non-ruminant animals have a complete digestive system.
  • The digestive system of  both consists of a mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and a rectum.
  • Both eat throughout the day and constantly lose energy.

Difference Between Ruminant and Non Ruminant Animals

Definition

Ruminant animals refer to animals that chew and regurgitate their food more than once, and digest it multiple times in different stomachs while non-ruminant animals refer to the animals that digest food in one stomach.

Type of Diet

Ruminant animals are herbivores, which consume plant material as food while non-ruminant animals are either omnivores or carnivores, thus consuming both plant and animal materials.

Stomach

Ruminant animals have a complex stomach with four compartments while non-ruminant animals have a simple stomach with a single compartment.

Length

Ruminant digestive system is long while non-ruminant digestive system is short. Furthermore, the length of the small intestine and the colon is higher in ruminant animals.

Enzymes to Digest Proteins

Ruminant animals do not produce enzymes for protein digestion while non-ruminant animals have such enzymes.

Canines

Ruminant animals have two blunt canines while non-ruminant animals have four sharp canines.

Premolars and Molars

The premolars and molars of the ruminant animals move in the lateral direction while they move in the vertical direction in non-ruminant animals.  

Saliva

Ruminant animals produce more saliva with no carbohydrate digestive enzymes while non-ruminant animals produce less saliva with carbohydrate digestive enzymes.

Regurgitation

Ruminant animals undergo regurgitation while non-ruminant animals do not undergo regurgitation.

Liver

The liver of the ruminant animals is large while the liver of the non-ruminant animals is comparatively small.  

Time Taken to Digest Food

Ruminant animals take a longer time to digest plant material while non-ruminant animals take comparatively less time for their digestion. Also, ruminant animals digest all plant carbohydrates including cellulose while non-ruminant animals do not digest cellulose.

Examples

Some ruminant animals include cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes and camels while non-ruminant animals include human, horse, swine, fowl, dog, and rabbit.

Conclusion

Ruminant animals chew the cud in a process called rumination. But non-ruminant animals do not undergo rumination. Also, ruminant animals have a stomach with four compartments while the stomach of non-ruminant animals is composed of a single compartment. Furthermore, ruminant animals digest plant materials such as cellulose through fermentation while non-ruminant animals eliminate cellulose as an undigested material. The main difference between ruminant and non-ruminant animals is the type of digestion and the structure of the digestive system.

Reference:

1. “ANIMAL NUTRITION.” Research Themes in Animal Bioscience | Animal BiosciencesAvailable Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Anatomy and physiology of animals The rumen” By The original uploader was Sunshineconnelly at English Wikibooks. – Transferred from en.wikibooks to Commons by Adrignola using CommonsHelper. (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia  
2. “Diagram showing the parts of the stomach CRUK 336” By Cancer Research UK – Original email from CRUK (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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