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Chapter 2 – Nutrition in Animals

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:


Well, you know that every creature must eat to live. That is irrespective of all living beings. The food that you eat is not dependent on its taste, however. Instead, it should contain a few essential elements too. For example, you need to eat a certain amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to remain healthy and function efficiently. The elements are known as nutrients, and understanding how nutrients affect the body is known as nutrition in animals. The plants follow a different method for ingesting food and deriving nutrition. in plants

Different animals eat differently with their food habits depending entirely on their body structure and the kind of work they engage in. You have no doubt heard about birds sucking honey from flowers with bigger animals and birds eating the food directly. The type of feeding habit has evolved over the years and changed with the functioning of the body. You may have heard about a python swallowing its prey whole. The fish and frogs have adapted to their environment too. They get their food from the water. They swim near food particles floating on water and gulp them down to get nutrition.

You may now want to know about how you get enough nutrition. Think of your body structure. A well-formed digestive system of the human body consists of several organs and glands. The digestive tract begins at the mouth and ends at the anus, the last part of the tract that expels out the waste products after digestion. The entire digestive tract passes through the esophagus or food pipe into the stomach and then through the small intestine, large intestine, and rectum, ultimately ending at the anal opening. Major organs such as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder play an essential role in the digestion of food.

You need to learn more about the system and how digestion ensures the nutrition of the body. Some of the primary areas involved with digestion and nutrition directly consist of:

Buccal Cavity (Mouth)

    • It contains teeth and the tongue.
    • Your teeth will help you to chew large particles of food into small-sized portions.
    • The fleshy, muscular gland attached to the base of the cavity is the tongue.
    • Saliva is secreted within the mouth. The chemicals in it help to break down the food and prepare it for digestion.


Open your mouth wide and trace the tongue.

    • It is attached to the buccal cavity floor at the back, near the throat’s opening.
    • It moves when you eat and helps to mix the saliva properly with the food and then pushes it back into the opening, enabling you to swallow.
    • This gland also has several taste buds located here that enable you to differentiate between different tastes. Thus, ice cream will taste sweet, while spicy gravy will feel hot on your tongue as the taste buds recognize the chili within it.


An adult has 32 permanent teeth, with the wisdom teeth developing later in life. Remember that several bacteria act directly on the remnants of food particles left in your mouth. The sugar in them is broken down, and acids release now into your mouth. Do not avoid washing your mouth thoroughly after eating. Failing to do so will cause your teeth to decay, and you will suffer from toothache.

Oesophagus (Food Pipe)

The food you swallow passes through the long tube known as the esophagus. You may call it the food pipe.

    • The entire tube is approximately 25 centimeters in length and guarded by sphincters (valves) at the beginning and end.
    • All the food that you swallow along with water passes through this tube to reach the stomach.


This is one of the organs believed to be the most essential for nutrition in animals.

    • It is a bag-like structure made out of muscles.
    • It is situated below the esophagus and obtains food directly from it.
    • The other end opens into the small intestine.
    • The stomach’s innermost lining contains mucus and some digestive juices along with hydrochloric acid (HCL).
    • The food that you have swallowed is converted into a semi-solid mass by mixing with the juices.
    • There are many enzymes in the digestive juices that break down the food.
    • HCL eliminates the bacteria that may have entered the stomach with the food and digests the proteins.

Small Intestine

Partially digested food enters the small intestine from the stomach. This is a 7.5 meters long organ that looks like a spiral structure.

    • The process of digestion is completed here, with the absorption of essential nutrients taking place here too.
    • Tiny finger-like projections known as villi are seen in the inner walls of the small intestine.
    • The villi increase the area of absorption.
    • There are numerous blood vessels in the villi that transport the absorbed food to the body.

Large Intestine

This is the next part of the digestive tract that looks similar to the small intestine but is much shorter.

    • The required amount of water and salt that remains in the food is absorbed here.
    • Undigested and unwanted food that is converted to waste passes out into the rectum.
    • The waste matter is transformed into feces that gets ejected from the body via the anal opening.


The last part of the digestive system is known as the anus. It removes waste products from the human body after digestion of food.

Grass-eating animals, known as herbivores, digest food differently. You will find animals such as cows and sheep chewing continuously as they graze on grass. This occurs due to the following:

    • The swallowed grass and leaves from plants pass into a chamber known as the rumen.
    • Bacteria convert the food into cud that is a partially digested mass.
    • This cud enters the moth again and compels the animal to chew it continuously.
    • This process is described as rumination, with the animal being referred to as a ruminant.
    • The animals also have a small intestine that helps digest cellulose, the grass’s primary

You cannot avoid learning about the process of digestion in amoeba, the unicellular animal when learning all about nutrition in animals.

    • The amoeba uses pseudopodia to capture food particles with the process of phagocytosis used for digestion.
    • The food components are kept inside the vacuole.
    • The digestive juices are produced directly into the vacuole as it passes through the cytoplasm.
    • The food is disintegrated into essential elements, and the valuable material is absorbed.
    • The vacuole opens to eject the undigested particles into the water that surrounds the amoeba.

In short, this will give you a fair idea about the human digestive system. However, you may have to refer to the human digestive system diagram to understand various organs’ processes and location more specifically.

  1. What are the types of nutrition in animals?
    There are two critical types of nutrition. Plants and other organisms can prepare their food by following the principles of autotrophic nutrition. Animals utilize heterotrophic nutrition by deriving nourishment from external sources.
  2. What are the five steps of nutrition in animals?
    The five steps of nutrition in animals include ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation, and egestion.
  3. Why is nutrition important for animals?
    Nutrition in animals is of paramount importance as it enables the animal to grow and develop adequately with all the other bodily functions ensured.
  4. What is nutrition in animal science?
    Meeting all the nutritional needs of animals kept under human supervision is termed nutrition in animal science. This is of importance for the breeding of livestock.
  5. What are the steps in nutrition in animals?
    There are five different nutrition steps in animals: ingestion, digestion, absorption, assimilation, and egestion.

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