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Dwarf Antelopes - Habitat, Characteristics, Parenting

food leaves ruminant stomach

These small antelopes belong to the ruminant family Bovidae, and are grouped with the gazelles in the subfamily Antilopinae. The 13 species of dwarf antelopes are in the tribe Neotragini. Dwarf antelopes range from extremely small (3.3-4.4 lb or 1.5-2 kg) hare-sized royal antelopes and dik-diks to the medium-sized oribi and beira weighing from 30-50 lb (10-25 kg). Dwarf antelopes engage in territorial scent marking and possess highly developed scent glands. They are browsers, consuming a diet of young green leaves, fruit, and buds. Dwarf antelopes are also usually not dependent upon regular supplies of drinking water for their survival.

The food of the herbivorous dwarf antelope is digested by means of the four-chambered ruminant stomach. Dwarf antelopes browse or graze, consuming vegetation that is nutritionally rich. They lightly chew their food as they tear leaves from branches. After the food is swallowed, it enters the rumen of the stomach. Digestion is then aided by the process of bacteria breaking down nutrients. The food pulp is then regurgitated and chewed as cud to further break down the food before being swallowed and digested more completely.


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