, Volume 13, Issue 11, pp 2115-2130

Digestion and absorption ofEucalyptus essential oils in greater glider (Petauroide svolans) and brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)

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Abstract

Measurements were made of the quantity and composition of the steam-volatile essential oils in gastrointestinal tract contents of greater gliders fedEucalyptus radiata foliage and brushtail possums fedE. melliodora foliage. In both species, there was less oil in the stomach contents than in an equivalent mass of foliage. Only minor losses of leaf oils occurred during mastication by greater gliders, and absorption from the stomach appeared to be the major reason for the difference in the oil content of ingested leaves and of stomach contents. The apparent digestibility of oils over the whole gut was 96–97 %, although oils from the cecum and feces of both species contained compounds not present in the original leaf oils. Absorption of oils before they reach the hindgut should reduce the severity of antimicrobial effects but may involve a metabolic cost to the animal in detoxification and excretion.