Why Is My Rabbit Eating Its Poop?

“Why is my rabbit eating its own poop?” This is a question I often hear from other rabbit owners. There is a logical reason and purpose for this action. Your rabbit excretes two kinds of poops, one is for wastes and the other is for nutrients needed. These droppings are called cecotropes.  Unlike most other mammals, lagomorphs (including domestic rabbits) produce two types of droppings, fecal pellets (the round, dry ones you usually see in the litterbox) and cecotropes. The latter are produced in a region of the rabbit’s digestive tract called the cecum, a blind-end pouch located at the junction of the small and large intestines. The cecum contains a natural community of bacteria and fungi that provide essential nutrients and may even protect the rabbit from potentially harmful pathogens.

To put simply, cecotropes, also called “night feces,” and are the material resulting from the fermentation of food in a part of the digestive system called the “cecum.”  The cecotropes have plenty of nutrients that your rabbit needs, and that can’t be supplemented by anything else on the market. It is very important that you look at your rabbit’s stool and pay attention that your rabbit is producing the two kinds of poops. I should point out that rabbits usually produce cecotropes at night, but if you see a soft wet looking poop (not runny poops – that indicates your bun is sick), most likely then it is cecotropes.

A rabbit may produce cecotropes at various times during the day, and this periodicity may vary from rabbit to rabbit. Some produce cecotropes in the late morning, some in the late afternoon, and some at night. In any case, they usually do this when you’re not watching. This might be why some people refer to cecotropes as “night droppings,” though cecotropes are not always produced at night.

How does the rabbit get those essential nutrients?

She eats the cecotropes as they exit the anus. The rabbits blissful expression when she’s engaging in cecotrophy (the ingestion of cecotropes) will tell you that she finds this anything but disgusting. In fact, rabbits deprived of their cecotropes will eventually succumb to malnutrition. Cecotropes are not feces. They are nutrient-packed dietary items essential to your companion rabbit’s good health.

What do cecotropes look like?

Cecotropes are smaller, softer, and more moist than the hard fecal pellets. They are covered with greenish mucus, which makes them stick together. They are a group of soft squishy pellets that are stuck together in a way that resembles a blackberry. They are dark brown, almost black, in colour and a coating of mucus gives them a glossy appearance.

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