Rabbits are classified to be a scavenging herbivore that commonly eats green grass and hay. However, this pulpy and cellulose-rich food that they consume can be found hard to ingest, and over time, their supper has to get into their guts, which can still include various nutrients and components that rabbits really need.
Yet, these cute little bunnies can conquer this dilemma with their unique and exceptional type of metabolism that is known to be hindgut fermentation. With that being said, they eat their own droppings or poop and ultimately assimilate it for the second time.
Rabbits are recognized to excrete two various kinds of droppings. They are the small black round-shaped poop and the softer black round ones. The soft poop is also known as cecotropes. This kind of dropping is being eaten as soon as it gets excreted.
Rabbit’s digestive system
It’s very crucial for the digestive system of the rabbits to maintain its fluid. The reason behind this is because they need to re-ingest their soft round poop or cecotropes in order for them to acquire the nutrients they need. In any circumstances that something got held in their intestines or esophagus, an unlikely condition or harm may happen to them as they are incapable of throwing up.
Though eating their poop may seem indecent, it is truly part of their nutritional demand. This particular process they do is called coprophagia.
What is coprophagia?
Coprophagia happens when rabbits eat their feces. Though this process may sound seemingly not reasonable for most of us, it is for various animals, most particularly, the rabbits. Rabbits eat their poop not because they think that it is actually food, but because it is good for them. Coprophagia is a common and usual practice of rabbits that can give a lot of benefits. Unlike other animals that they tend to eat their poop with no reasonable advantages, rabbits do it for packs of purposes.
As there are two different kinds of droppings, does this mean that rabbits eat both of them?
What kind of droppings do the rabbits eat?
Rabbits eat cecotropes. They do not eat their normal fecal pellets as they distinguish them as not being useful for their health.
Ordinarily, you may not detect a lot of cecotropes throughout your rabbit’s cage. The main reason behind this is because rabbits immediately eat cecotropes as soon as it’s being excreted by them.
One thing to know that they are about to eat cecotropes is when you notice them seemingly cleaning or grooming their anal area. When this occurs, the rabbits are making themselves ready to catch the cecotropes as they come out from their anal. And as soon as it does, they will swallow it entirely.
As rabbits aren’t too smart to technically classify their poop, they are more than keen enough to tell if they are excreting normal fecal pellets or another way around. There is no need for them to carefully examine from which is which. They have their instinct to tell if they are about to excrete cecotropes. Why is that so?
The process includes a neurological signal transmitted to the rabbit’s brain when cecotropes are sent to their rectum. The transmission of this neurological signal comes when these soft feces are on their way out. Then finally, cecotropes will be immediately eaten as soon as they come out.
As a rabbit parent, one thing that you should never do is to restrain your bunny from eating cecotropes as this process is very important and essential not only for the nutrient they acquire from the food but also for their digestive system. With the absence of this process, your rabbit wouldn’t be able to obtain the necessary nutrients their body needs.
Why do rabbits eat cecotropes?
Rabbits eat cecotropes not only that they include nutrients needed, but because it is also part of their system. As cecotropes are rich in essential nutrients, they contain a greater value of vitamins and proteins than a usual fecal pellet has. This habit is perfectly a natural function for them more, particularly during the morning or late at night.
What would happen if they didn’t eat cecotropes?
All cecotropes should be eaten by your rabbits. As the value of nutrients that it incorporates can add to their daily dietary needs, it is a complete waste if they are thrown away.
Based on the present research, one of the things that make coprophagia very important for the rabbits is due to its advantage in balancing your rabbit’s gut flora. Cecotropes are valuable in enhancing good microorganisms through the cecum. When healthy microorganisms have been reintroduced, it has the capability of helping in the process called hindgut fermentation.
There may be some infrequent times that cecotropes are left on your rabbits’ enclosure. This doesn’t mean that something is wrong with them. Normally, that instance is typical, particularly if there are only counted hinted left amounts. However, excessive amounts of cecotropes left is a possible danger.
If there is an instance that your rabbit doesn’t eat their cecotropes or they eat a lesser amount that is notable than usual, then call it a problem.
Consider the condition below:
- One of the reasons why your rabbits don’t eat their cecotropes is because they are having a hard time reaching for it. They may be obese or overweight.
- Your rabbits may be injured or are suffering from arthritis.
- They may be suffering from relentless tooth pain or any mouth-related pain that hinders them from eating their cecotropes.
- They may be very stressed.
- They may have gained a great amount of protein from their diet. Sometimes, when rabbits acquire a high amount of protein, they aren’t that motivated or triggered enough to eat their cecotropes.
Rabbits considerably love grass hay, cecotropes, as well as green and fresh food every day. Disproportionate consumption of vegetables may be a problem for your rabbits not only that there are a set of requirements that need to be met, but also because it is too high in protein. Excessive vegetable consumption can be a problem, especially when it is given in extreme amounts.
It may appear to be very gross, but it is normal for your rabbits to eat their feces every morning or night as it is part of their system. As cecotropes have been considered to be one of the rabbit’s nutrients that are needed in particular, they are very important in filling up what is required. Cecotropes are produced during the food fermentation. It is part of their digestive tract function, which is cecum. They are those soft feces that are rich in protein and have great vitamin compositions such as vitamin B accompanied by low fiber levels.
While some rabbit owners may be unarguably disturbed when they see their pet eating their own fecal pellets, understand that this process or action is one of many typical functions needed by their body’s overall wellness. Moreover, as a pet parent, do not ever try to restrain your rabbit from eating their cecotropes as it is part of their healthful regular routine.