Did you know that rats don't vomit? Not only that, they don't actually burp as well. Therefore, they don't experience heartburn as well as humans would normally experience after vomiting or burping. There are actually several reasons why a rat isn't able to vomit. One reason is that they actually have a very powerful strong barrier that separates their stomach and esophagus. They also don't have sufficient esophageal muscle to force the barrier open, which makes vomiting possible. Second reason is that when one vomits it would require two sets of muscles in the diaphragm to contract independently. However, rats seem to be unable to dissociate the movements of these two muscles. Third reason is simply because rats' brains just aren't that complex enough to facilitate the mental process required when vomiting.
We are somehow aware that the main purpose why a living being vomits is for the body to rid itself of something toxic. Basically, vomiting is a defence mechanism of our body system to prevent anything that may damage it by purging it out. Rats are incapable of vomiting, but they still do have ways to prevent the possibilities of intoxication. One strategy is preventative in nature. With the use of their super-sensitive sense of smell, they can easily detect any possible toxic intake before they ingest it. Another way to rid themselves of the toxins particularly when the case is they have already taken the toxin in is through pica. Specifically clay, they eat some of it to get rid of the toxins that are already ingested. Clay has a special property that binds some toxins that are in the stomach which in turn dilutes the toxins in the system.
Regurgitation vs. Vomiting
While humans can vomit, rats can regurgitate. They do it quite occasionally even to rid itself from any possible toxin intakes they have done before. Regurgitation is a different process to vomiting. Vomiting requires much more complex processes in the mind and the system reflexes that respond to the process of vomiting. The powerful reflex would require a series of muscle coordination to make the forceful dispelling of toxins possible. One the other hand, regurgitation is a passive process wherein the food is effortlessly drawn back to the esophagus area. To regurgitate, one would not need to have any forceful muscle or abdominal contractions to make it possible.
Other Actions that May Resemble Vomiting
There other things that rats do that may look like they are vomiting. However, they are not actually vomiting in this case, but instead they are attempting to execute something to prevent them from being intoxicated. For example, there are times when a rat may find it difficult to swallow the food that they just ate. Their chocking patterns of behavior may resemble something like it's about to vomit. The rat in this situation may strain itself deliberately, would pull down his chin to his throat and its ears would flatten. It is possible that the rat will drool saliva, and put his paw into his mouth. Surprisingly, during this process, rats are still able to breathe normally, although chocking in rats is just very rare.
Sometimes, one could often relate the semblance of vomiting to a rat having difficulty swallowing as some parcels of food may actually come back out of the mouth. However, this is strictly not vomiting at all.
Rats may experience respiratory distress and they would be found choking at times due to their difficulty in breathing. When they do choke, they dispel a foamy substance that may look like stomach fluids. However, they are not stomach fluids but rather mucus from the lungs.
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