Warning – graphic images shown
This post is focused on the anatomy of a hare, but it’s largely the same for a rabbit.
Bear in mind that I’m not a vet, what I’ve written is to the best of my knowledge. Feel free to let me know if anything is wrong.
The main body of a hare can be thought of us comprising the chest and abdomen.
When you first open a hare or rabbit it’s the abdomen that you open. They’re monogastric, hindgut fermenting herbivores which means that they have one simple stomach, small intestines (duodenum, jejunum and ileum) and large intestines (caecum and colon), containing bacteria that help to digest food.
The stomach is a large, muscular, and hollow organ providing a capacity to hold food. It is comprised of 4 main regions, the cardia, fundus, body, and pylorus.
The small intestines are made up of 3 parts:
Duodenum – The first part of the small intestines, connected to the stomach. The function of the duodenum is to mix food with enzymes and bile to digest it. The duodenum is a key organ because it helps break down nutrients from food to make them available for absorption into the bloodstream.
Jejunum – The middle part of the small intestines. Its lining is specialised for the absorption of small nutrient molecules which have been previously digested by enzymes in the duodenum.
Ileum – The ileum is the last and longest section of the small intestine. Here the walls of the small intestine begin to thin and narrow, and blood supply is reduced. Food spends the most time in the ileum, where the most water and nutrients are absorbed.
The large intestines consist of:
Caecum – The start of the large intestines. The main functions of the caecum are to absorb any fluids and salts that remain and to mix its contents with a lubricating substance, mucus. The internal wall of the caecum is composed of a thick mucous membrane, through which water and salts are absorbed.
Colon – The colon is the longest part of the large intestine. It receives almost completely digested food from the caecum, absorbs water and nutrients, and passes waste (faeces) to the rectum. The colon is divided into 4 parts, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon.
Once the intestines have been removed the liver and kidneys are visible.
Clearly this isn’t everything within the abdomen, there’s also the appendix, gall bladder, bladder and reproductive organs etc.
Moving farther up the cavity is the diaphragm. Remove this to expose the lungs and heart, situated within the chest.
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