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Why Does My Rabbit Eat Poop?

Why rabbits eat poop

Everyone needs a snack sometimes. Rabbits just need snacks ALL the time. Luckily, they have a built in hors d'oeuvre dispenser. No, really. Rabbits eating their own poop are completely normal, and it’s actually healthy. You, however, should probably stick with the real raisins.

Where does all that hay go?

Rabbits are herbivores, which means they are basically the strictest vegans around town. They dine exclusively on plant material. Rabbits use a process called hind gut fermentation to break down their high-fiber diet into material the body can digest. Indigestible fiber is far from useless. Fiber in your rabbit’s diet is essential to keeping the digestive system moving.

Rabbits have a caecum that contains lots of fancy enzymes and bacteria. ​Food will make a pit stop here when it needs to be broken down further. This is where the indigestible fiber is transformed into nutrients a rabbit’s body can digest. But, it doesn’t always happen right here. It may need to make one more trip through the digestive tract first. 

Meet caecotrophs

Material that is digested in the small intestine the first go-around makes a predictable exit in the litter box. Those that are up for round two, however, get re-ingested. You may not even see them, but rather see your rabbit reach around for a quick morsel.

Caecotrophs are small, round, moist droppings. AKA special poops. These pelleted treats are coated with a layer of rubbery mucus​ that wraps around a large mass of beneficial ​bacteria. When the bunny ​eats the caecotroph, the ​coating of mucus helps protect the bacteria ​as it travels through the tummy on the way back to home base. This time, the nutrients can be properly absorbed and utilized by your rabbit's body. 

​Your rabbit instinctively knows the difference between caecal pellets and feces. You may not even see the coveted, nutrient-packed delicacies, because rabbits tend to scoop them up right away. This process is essential to good digestive health and absorption of nutrients.  

​Keeping things in working order

​If your bun is needing too many booty baths lately, the soft caecotrophs may be starting to form a ​mushy consistency, creating a hind-end mess. This is not normal and can be caused by the intestines slowing down. A lack of fiber, too many carbohydrates or sugar, or an underlying illness can cause the delicate balance of bacteria in the caecum to become disrupted. If you're already offering a proper diet, see if there is another reason your rabbit may have lost enthusiasm for his hay. Is he hurting? Is he stressed? The digestive process should correct itself once the underlying cause is addressed.

​Remember, eating "poop" is normal (although now you know it's poser poop). Overly soft droppings and an empty litter box are not, and may warrant a rabbit-savvy vet visit. 


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