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Video: Why Do Herbivores Chew on Old Bones?

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Nothing goes to waste in nature including old bones! Osteophagia is the scientific name given to the act of chewing on old bones, something commonly practiced by many herbivores at Kariega Game Reserve. It is quite comical watching an animal navigate the process, as depicted in the video by this giraffe and nyala!

Why do Herbivores Chew Old Bones?

Osteophagia has been recorded in several different species of herbivores ranging from giraffes to zebras and impalas to tortoises. It is believed that these animals chew and suck on bone fragments in order to absorb the calcium and phosphorous from the bone. 

What is Copraphagia?

The other type of ‘phagia’ is called copraphagia, where animals eat dung. All herbivores require bacteria in their digestive systems in order to digest plant material. It is therefore necessary for herbivore babies to eat their mothers’ dung in order to kick-start their digestive systems before they begin to eat plants.

Read more about this on our blog: Why do Rhino Calves Eat Poo?

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