Ruminant Vs Non Ruminant Animals: 13 Major Differences & Similarities

The animal digestive system is divided into ruminant and non-ruminant. These types of digestive systems tend to be quite different in terms of anatomy and functionality.

So, what is the main difference between non-ruminant and ruminant animals? Non-ruminant animals are either omnivores or carnivores whereas ruminant animals are herbivores.

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Comparison Table (Ruminant vs Non-Ruminant Animals)

Basic Terms Ruminant Animals Non Ruminant Animals
Definition These are animals that digest food multiple times in different stomachs These are animals that digest food once in one stomach
Mode of Nutrition Herbivores Omnivores and Carnivores
Stomach Complex with four chambers Simple with one chamber
Length of the Digestive System Long Short
Enzyme Production No enzyme is produced The enzyme is produced to digest proteins
Canines Have two blunt canines Have four sharp canines
Premolars and Molars Move-in lateral direction Move-in the vertical direction
Saliva Produce more saliva with no carbohydrates digestive enzyme Less saliva production with carbohydrate digestive enzyme
Regurgitation Experience regurgitation Do not experience regurgitation
Liver Larger Comparatively smaller
Duration for Food Digestion Longer time Comparatively less time
Examples Cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes, and camels Human, horse, swine, fowl, dog, and rabbit
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What Are Ruminant Animals?

These are animals with a complex digestive systems. They have a four-chambered stomach which is designed to digest different texture of foods.

They are also classified as herbivores. Examples of these animals are cattle, sheep, goats, deer, buffalo, and giraffes.

Examples of the four stomach compartments are rumen, reticulum, omasum, and abomasum.

Rumen, reticulum, and omasum are designed to digest hard fibers through the process of fermentation. The abomasum is responsible for secreting digestive enzymes.


Advantages of Ruminant Animals

  1. Improve the health status of animals
  2. Enhance homogeneity in unified mixtures
  3. Facilitate partial hydrogenation of fats in ingredients
  4. Reduction of antinutritional factors in legumes and protein crops
  5. Reduction of the undegradable fraction of ruminal starch

Disadvantages of Ruminant Animals

  1. Require a large amount of energy
  2. Vital components are destroyed during digestion.
  3. Lack of digestive enzymes

What Are Non-Ruminant Animals?

These are animals with a single stomach within their digestive system. They are either omnivores or carnivores.

Animals with a single stomach for digestion are also described as monogastric. Examples of non-ruminant animals are humans, dogs, and swine.

The key components involved in the digestion of non-ruminants are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.

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Advantages of Non-Ruminant Animals

  1. Require less energy for digestion
  2. Make use of all ingredients present in food
  3. Digestion happens faster
  4. Have digestive enzymes

Disadvantages of Non-Ruminant Animals

  1. Do not improve products
  2. Prone essential ingredient deficiency

Main Difference between Ruminant and Non-Ruminant Animals

  1. Ruminant animals have complex stomachs while non-ruminant animals have a simple stomach
  2. Ruminant animals are herbivores while non-ruminant animals are omnivores and carnivores
  3. Ruminant animals have a long digestive system while non-ruminant animals have a short digestive system
  4. Non-ruminant animals have digestive enzymes while ruminant animals do not produce a digestive system
  5. Ruminant animals have two blunt canines whereas non-ruminant animals have four sharp canines.
  6. Ruminant animals take longer for digestion while non-ruminant animals take a shorter duration.
  7. Ruminant animals experience regurgitation while non-ruminant animals do not experience regurgitation.
  8. Ruminant animals have larger liver while non-ruminant animals have a smaller liver
  9. Ruminant animals produce more saliva while non-ruminant animals produce less saliva.
  10. Ruminant animals have premolars and molars that move in a lateral direction while those of non-ruminant animals move in a vertical direction.

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Similarities between Ruminant and Non-Ruminant Animals

  1. Both have a complete digestive system
  2. Both eat throughout the day
  3. Both lose energy throughout the day
  4. The digestive system consists of a mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and a rectum.
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Ruminant Vs Non-Ruminant Animals FAQs

Is A Dog Ruminant or Non-Ruminant?

Dogs are predators and they have a simple stomach to facilitate the faster digestion process. Therefore, a dog is a non-ruminant animal.

Is A Chicken Ruminant or Non-Ruminant?

A chicken belongs to the poultry group. All birds have an avian digestive system which is quite different from the ruminant and non-ruminant digestive systems. Chicken has a crop, a proventriculus, a gizzard, and a cloaca.

What Do Non-Ruminant Animals Eat?

These animals are either carnivores or omnivores. Examples are lions, pigs, and humans. Carnivores rely more on beef proteins while omnivores rely on both plants and beef proteins.

Is Duck A Monogastric Animal?

Yes. Monogastric animals are essential components of the farming systems in tropical countries.

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Comparison Video

YouTube video


The main difference between ruminant and non-ruminant animals is that ruminant animals are herbivores while non-ruminant animals are either carnivores or omnivores.

Ruminants have a complex stomach divided into four compartments and non-ruminants have a simple stomach for a single digestion process.

More References and Sources

Ruminant. Wikipedia.

Non-Ruminant. Science Direct