Why rabbits eat their poop ?( 5 questions & Answers)

Why rabbits eat their poop ?( 5 Questions & Answers)

Why Do Rabbits Eat Poop?

It may seem gross, but rabbits normally eat some of their feces once a day, either early in the morning or late at night.

It’s called Coprophagy. It’s a common thing among a few mammals and insects. 

Most of the nutrients in food consumed by the mammals like a rabbit, remains unabsorbed. Coprophagy helps in the further absorption of nutrients. It is a natural process.

Cecotropes are rich in nutrients that rabbits require. These special faeces contain more protein and vitamins than regular faeces, so consuming cecotropes (along with a healthy diet) ensures that a rabbit gets all of the important nutrients it requires to stay healthy.

Rabbits eating cecotropes at night or early in the morning is completely normal behaviour, but eating their normal stools during the day is not.

What does coprophagia mean?

Coprophagia occurs When faeces are eaten, . 

Most people think about this kind of behaviour as gross and yucky, but some animals like rabbits, eat their own faeces for a very good reason. 

Coprophagia is a normal, healthy behaviour for rabbits, but is generally discouraged by people because of the absence of awareness about its health benefits. Also, mainly disliked by the owners of other animals, such as dogs.

Rabbits eat their own poop so they can digest it again?

Yep – they’re more formally called cecotropes.

Rabbits actually poop out two different kinds of poop; one is a round, hard, relatively odourless ball of waste that consists mostly of fibre (which is why rabbits need a LOT of fibre every day).

This sort of poop is sometimes jocularly called “bunny berries” and is what a bunny excretes, among other reasons, to mark territory.

Cecotropes are soft, smelly things that look somewhat like bunches of grapes. 

They’re produced – actually fermented – in a special part of the rabbit’s large intestine known as the cecum and are full of nutrients that the rabbit needs for good health.

Normally, you won’t see those very often, because they’re usually excreted several hours after a meal and are more or less immediately eaten by the bunny.

If you ever see a lot of cecotropes lying around, that’s a sign that something may be medically wrong.

(Icky as it sounds, rabbit owners learn to keep an eye on their bunny’s poops as a reliable signal as to the health of their pet’s digestive system.)

Is it normal for rabbits to eat their own poop?

Yes! They are called cecotropes created in the cecum which is a different area than regular stool.

These are packed with nutrients that are important to a bun’s health. 

They are created a various times of the day unrelated to regular stool times also. They are very content consuming them.

While owners are disturbed when they see their pets eating faeces, know that it is a normal and important part of rabbit behaviour that will keep your pet healthy. 

Because faecal pellets are only passed once per day, owners should not try to prevent their rabbits from eating them.

The special faeces are referred to as cecotropes or ‘nocturnal faeces.’ It is produced by fermenting food in the digestive part of the rabbit, the cecum, that is. Cecotropes are soft faeces, rich in nutrients and passed out as normal stools from the body, but later re-introduced by rabbits, to enhance the absorption of important nutrients.

These faecal faeces have more protein and fibre than typical harder bunny faecal pellets that you can see in or around the litterbox in the cage, and higher levels of certain vitamins, like B vitamins.

Related : Female rabbits(doe) eat their own babies which can be prevented with proper care and precautions.

Should You Prevent Your Rabbit From Eating Its Poop?

No way !

You should not try to prevent! If a rabbit does not get to eat its cecotropes, then it may be lacking some nutrients necessary for its special digestive tract to work properly.2 If you see your rabbit cleaning its hind end, do not disturb it.

What if your rabbit isn’t consuming its faeces?

If your rabbit isn’t eating its cecotropes, there’s probably a reason for it. This could be something as simple as your rabbit being too obese or arthritic to reach its cecotropes, or it could be something more serious, such as a digestive or other medical issue. 4 

Some rabbits that haven’t gotten enough nutrients from their cecotropes may benefit from transfaunation. Cecotropes from a healthy rabbit are fed to a sick rabbit to help restore a healthy intestinal tract.

Symptoms That Your Rabbit Is Eating Its Poop

If you’re not sure whether your rabbit eats its poop, there are a few key indicators to look for.

Check your rabbit’s hind end first. 

A rabbit usually has a clean rear end because, despite the fact that cecotropes are soft and sticky, it consumes them as they exit the body. If your rabbit has small, soft, sticky poops stuck to its fur, it isn’t eating its cecotropes.

If there aren’t any of these soft poops, your rabbit is eating them properly.

Second, inspect your rabbit’s litter box and cage floor. If all of your rabbit’s poop is round and normal, it’s likely that it’s eating its cecotropes.

Third, keep an eye on your rabbit at night or early in the morning. It is eating its cecotropes if you see it cleaning its hind end and spending more time licking below its tail.


The Rabbits by John Marsden

Manual of Exotic pet Practice

About Content Reviewer & Vet Expert OnBoard: Dr Maya Zamir Malvern Vet Clinic. Dr Maya is passionate about pets and loves sharing her knowledge and research with you.

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Why rabbits eat their poop ?( 5 questions & Answers)

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