Feeding ecology and diet

Digestion in sengis is similar to that of small insectivorous mammals, although ancestral sengis were herbivorous. All sengis prey on invertebrates, mostly insects, while most supplement this fare with fruits, seeds, and green plant material, the one exception being Rhynchocyon chrysopygus, the golden-rumped sengi, which eats only animals, mostly invertebrates. Smaller species of sengis feed mainly on ants and termites.

The sengi digestive tract includes a caecum (analogous to the appendix in humans). This organ has been little studied in the Macroscelidae, and may not be functional in all species.

In species in which it does function, the caecum is full of bacteria that break down cellulose in ingested plant matter. The functional caecum is another legacy from the purely herbivorous diets of sengi ancestors. The caecum of some sengi species may also be used to store water for hot, dry months.

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