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Why do rabbits eat their poop?
Contrary to its disgusting nature, it is normal behaviour for rabbits to eat their poop. Rabbits eat their own poop and digest it a second time. All rabbits eat their feces as it is an important part of the digestive process.
When rabbits feed, their digestive systems cannot extract all the nutrients from food the first time it is digested. During the digestion process, soft pellets called cecotropes are formed, which contain valuable protein and fiber. As such, rabbits eat their cecotropes to extract these nutrients by digesting them a second time.
When rabbits eat their poop, it may appear as though they are grooming their hind end.
coprophagy in rabbits?
Coprophagy is a process when feces are consumed.
Rabbits make two different kinds of droppings. Normal rabbits feces are small, black, dry and round ones which are odourless. The softer and pungent ones known as cecotropes, are excreted at night and eaten immediatley. Cecotropes are usually eaten directly from the anus, so it is likely that they are hardly found in your rabbit’s cage.
normal fecal pellets versus cecotropes
When rabbits eat their poop, it may appear as though they are grooming their anal region. In fact, they are catching the cecotropes as the poop emerge and consuming them. Rabbits swallow their cecotropes whole.
Rabbits never eat their normal fecal pellets in this manner as they know that the normal fecal pellets do not contain any useful nutrients.
Rabbits can tell when they are pooping cecotropes, versus normal pellets.
A neurological signal is sent to the rabbit’s brain when the cecotropes are in the rectum. They then instinctively start to consume them.
should you prevent your rabbit from eating its poop?
Never prevent a rabbit from eating its poop.
Cecotrope ingestion is a normal and important part of rabbit behavior that will help keep their digestve system healthy. Generally, cecotropes are only passed once a day, so there is little chance that an excessive amount could be consumed.
If you see your rabbit cleaning its hind end, do not disturb it.
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