Do rabbits eat their poop? Although it may sound weird, it’s natural for rabbits to eat their poop! They have difficulty getting all the nutrients from the food.
Hence, they have to consume their droppings. Amazingly, this particular poop is full of nutrients and minerals. Keep reading to learn more!
Understanding Rabbits’ Digestive System
Although rabbits seem to love all veggies, hay is essential for their diet. These dried grass are low-quality food, but they are high in fiber.
Like other animals, rabbits have difficulty digesting them. Fortunately, their digestive system is designed to handle vegetation with high fibers. They are hindgut-fermenters like horses.
Once the rabbits eat their food, it will go to their small intestine. Enzymes aid digestion and absorb nutrients from starches, sugars, and proteins. After that, it will go through the cecum. This part of the digestive system has microbes that break down and digest fibers.
The remaining food will go to the large intestine, where there will be water resorption. For excretion, the feces are divided into two groups.
There are the indigestible fiber and the poop that contains the nutrients. The minerals, amino acids, and vitamins are excreted through the cecotropes. It is also referred to as night feces. These poop are expelled at night, so you may hardly notice them.
Since rabbits practice coprophagy, they eat the night feces directly from their anus. By consuming this poop, the rabbits get the nutrients from the fermentation of feeds in the cecum.
Although it may look disgusting, eating them is healthier for rabbits. However, it is crucial to differentiate the cecotropes from normal feces.
Two Kinds of Rabbits’ Poop
Rabbits don’t have difficulty classifying the dropping they must and must not eat. But as rabbit owners, it is helpful to know the differences between the two kinds of rabbits’ poop.
It will help you determine if your rabbit is healthy or not. You also want to ensure that your rabbit is consuming the right droppings.
Normal Feces Droppings
The normal feces droppings of rabbits are the undigested fibers. They are usually so dry that they will crumble when you break them. Their shape is like round pellets, and they scatter like individual balls.
If you feed hay on your rabbits, the color of their droppings can be light to medium green. But if they frequently eat leafy vegetables, the color of their poop would have a green tinge.
Cecotropes are easy to distinguish because they are usually soft and sticky. In terms of size, they are half the size of the pellets.
Aside from that, they are not perfectly round, and they have a squishy texture. You will also notice that they are darker brown encapsulated with sticky mucus. They also have a more pungent smell.
Benefits of Cecotropes
If you have seen your rabbit eating cecotropes, never stop it, although it may look revolting. Cecotropes have lots of benefits to your pet. One of these is it helps in balancing the natural gut flora of the rabbit.
Intestinal microbial balance helps in the rabbit’s digestion and the metabolism of nutrients. It contributes to the faster development and growth of the rabbit.
Aside from promoting good digestion, cecotropes are packed with essential nutrients. Amazingly, minerals and vitamin K are present.
They also contain the healthy microorganisms shed from the guts. Examples of these are protein and B-vitamins. The nutrients that the rabbits need are provided by these excretions.
Possible Reasons Why Rabbits Don’t Feed on Cecotropes
Your rabbit may want to feed on the cecotropes, but it cannot reach them because of its plump body. To help your rabbit, you must not feed too many treats on it.
Provide your rabbit with a balanced diet. Aside from that, expand its cage to have ample space to roam around, helping it lose weight.
An injury may restrict the movement of your rabbit, making it hard for your pet to catch all cecotropes. It is also possible that it is experiencing arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis are stiff movements and reduced appetite. You will also notice the rabbit having difficulty jumping and getting out of the litter tray. If you notice these symptoms, go to a veterinarian.
Another culprit that you must detect is tooth pain. If your rabbit has tooth pain, it won’t eat anything, including the cecotropes. Tooth pain is accompanied by drooling or wetness around the mouth.
Inflammation around the jaw and chin is also noticeable. To relieve the pain, change the rabbit’s diet and bring it to the vet.
If the rabbit is busy stressing out about its environment, it cannot eat and get the nutrition it needs. Stress has a significant impact on rabbits’ physical and mental health.
You should put them in a large place where they can play and roam around. You should also clean their cages.
Excessive protein intake
When the rabbit takes too much protein, it will feed on the cecotropes. As a warning, excessive protein intake is deadly to rabbits. They may experience a condition called gastrointestinal (GI) stasis.
It happens when there are contractions of the stomach muscles. Also, normal bacteria on the digestive system become out of balance.
Rabbits can excrete unhealthy cecotropes that are too wet to consume. These malformed cecotropes are known as Intermittent Soft Cecotropes (ISC).
Besides creating a mess on your rabbit’s fur and cage, they are also warning signs in your rabbit’s diet. You may have been giving too many carbohydrates or food with low fibers.
Reasons why rabbits feed on poop than cecotropes
Not enough nutrition
You may have noticed that your rabbit is also consuming its normal droppings. These poops are made of indigestible fibers, they have little or no nutritional value.
It can also be a sign of poor nutrition. If you fail to give your rabbit the right amount of food, it will consume even its normal poop. Make sure that you are regularly giving your pet the nourishment it needs.
A rabbit’s diet is comprised mainly of hay. Prevent giving your bunny alfalfa hay as the primary food source since it is very high protein.
You can vary the types of grass hay from time to time, like oat hay, timothy, brome, and orchard. Aside from hays, don’t forget to feed it with leafy vegetables. There are lots of foods that rabbits should never eat, like oil, nuts, and avocados.
Your rabbit is bored
Aside from insufficient nutrition, your rabbit may also be bored. It can be a possible reason why it’s eating its regular droppings. Add some toys that it could throw around like canes.
Also, give it a toy that it can chew. When a rabbit is too bored, it will chew everything inside its cage. Ensure to set up an engaging and fun home for your pet by remodeling its cage.
Frequently Asked Questions
How will I treat my rabbit experiencing Intermittent Soft Cecotropes (ISC)?
You will need to restrict its diet to grass hay for a few weeks. Once it excretes normal cecotropes for at least a week, introduce leafy vegetables. But make sure that there are no traces of soft cecotropes in its cage.
How will I know if my rabbit is eating the cecotropes?
Check if the rear end of your rabbit is clean. It consumes the cecotropes if it doesn’t have any soft and sticky poop on its hind end.
Also, look at its cage to check if its droppings are the normal, round ones. If you have time, you can also check your rabbit in the evening or early at night if it’s cleaning its rear end.
Is it normal that my rabbit’s poop has hair on it?
Your rabbit may have been tearing out its fur that’s why its poop has hair on it. If it’s losing some fur, this can be one of the reasons. It is also possible that your rabbit is suffering from trichobezoars.
It happens when furballs develop in your rabbit’s digestive system. This condition occurs when a mat of hair that has been ingested has mixed with undigested food.
What is the difference between cecotropes and diarrhea?
Cecotropes are sticky, so it is possible to be consumed by rabbits. On the other hand, diarrhea is a stool that is too watery that the rabbits cannot eat it.
In some instances, rabbits excrete bloody stool when suffering from diarrhea. If this occurs, go to your veterinarian. Diarrhea is a fatal condition that requires immediate attention.
Again, do rabbits eat their poop? Absolutely! As a rabbit owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that they consume cecotropes. You must regularly check if the cecotropes have good quality.
Providing them with a balanced diet will help them produce healthy droppings. A happy bunny excretes a healthy poop.