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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A preliminary study of cellulose digestion in the beaver (Castor canadensis). Currier, Ann Agnes


An unsuccessful attempt was made to culture cellulolytic bacteria from the caecum of the beaver. The caecum is the site of cellulose digestion in this herbivorous rodent. Cellulose digestion takes place on the surface of the food particles as demonstrated by the erosion of the surface of cellulose paper in artificial caeca. The rate of digestion of cellulose was measured using chromic oxide as a food marker. A variation in cellulose digestion of values from zero to 43 per cent was obtained; this variation appeared to be influenced by the health status, the diet, and perhaps the readiness with which a particular animal accepted the regimentation imposed by the experimental procedures. Cellulose unquestionably contributes to the energy available to the beaver from food material ingested. The digestible energy from cellulose appears insignificant.

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