Feeding ecology and diet

They are vegetarian and eat the roots, shoots, and stems of various grasses. They cut the grass stems at the base with their powerful incisors, and then while sitting in an upright position, they manipulate the grass stem or other foodstuff with their front paws while pushing it into the mouth and chopping it into small pieces with the incisors. Grasses are their principal food, including elephant grass, Pennisetum pur-pureum, and buffalo or guinea grass, Panicum maximum. They consume the soft parts of the grasses and shrubs, and the drier sections and leaves are often discarded. They can become severe agricultural pests in some areas where crops, such as peanuts, maize, sorghum, wheat, cassava, and sugar cane grow in close proximity to their habitat. They are very fond of kikuyu grass and will raid lawns. They scratch the soil aside to expose vegetables such as potatoes and sweet potatoes or, in certain grasses, to expose the succulent underground stems or roots. Fermentation of food occurs mainly in the caecum and the animals are coprophagous. They produce two kinds of feces, hard pellets that are excreted and soft pellets that are reingested.

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