Monday, 27 April 2015
Raw meat diet could combat captive cheetah health problem
A diet of raw meat and carcasses over commercially prepared meals could combat debilitating gastrointestinal diseases that affect many captive cheetahs.
Over 95% of captive cheetahs in North America and South Africa and 55% in Europe are known to suffer from gastritis – a type of gastrointestinal disease that causes inflammation of the stomach lining; vomiting; diarrhoea and weight loss.
The problem is extremely rare among free-ranging cheetahs.
In the biggest-ever international survey of its kind, researchers gathered information on diet and health for 184 cheetahs in 19 countries, representing 12% of the world’s captive cheetah population.
The team discovered fewer instances of vomiting and diarrhoea in cheetahs whose diet was based on carcasses, compared with animals that were fed commercially prepared meals, which typically include minced meat such as horse or beef, with added vitamins and minerals.
And “firm and dry faeces” – associated with a normal, healthy gut in cheetahs - was most commonly found in animals fed on a raw meat diet.