Rabbits are pretty healthy and hygienic, so it might surprise you to know that your rabbit is regularly eating its poop!
This begs the question: Why do rabbits eat their poop?
It’s perfectly healthy for rabbits to eat their poop. The stool that your rabbit consumes is just partially-digested food. Rabbits need to eat this snack to extract all the nutrients from their food!
In today’s article, we’ll go through the type of poop that rabbits eat and what healthy rabbit stool looks like. So, keep reading to find out all about your bunny’s poop!
To repeat, it’s quite normal for rabbits to eat their poop. In fact, this seemingly unhygienic behavior is crucial for the bunnies’ health.
To understand why rabbits eat their poop, you should first know about the fermentation process, and the different types of poop your rabbit excretes.
Fermentation is a normal digestive process. The bacteria and enzymes present in our gut, particularly in the cecum, help break down food and nutrients, making them easier to absorb.
Rabbits are hind-gut fermentors. Their cecum is found right before the colon, meaning the food gets excreted once it’s broken down.
The nutrients in the fermented food, or poop, don’t get absorbed the first time. So, rabbits need to eat this partially-digested food to get all the healthy nutrients.
The type of poop your bunny eats is called cecotropes. These cecotropes are soft, glossy, and numerous. They look like berries or grapes, and have a pungent odor.
You’ll rarely see this stool, as your rabbit will eat it immediately. Cecotropes are also known as night droppings. That’s because they’re typically released at night. So, it’s hard to catch your bunny eating its poop!
It’s important to understand that cecotropes aren’t feces. There’s absolutely no harm in your bunny eating this homemade snack.
The droppings are rich in protein and vitamins, which the bunny re-ingests to keep a balanced diet. The cecotropes contain the following nutrients:
- Microbial proteins
- Short-chain fatty acids
- Vitamin B
The regular droppings of your rabbit are called pellets. Round pellets are often lighter than cecotropes. They’re also dry, brittle, and nearly odorless.
Pellets consist mainly of undigested fiber. However, your bunny is unlikely to eat these pellets. Instead, you’ll find these pellets in your rabbit’s litter box.
Your bunny poops hundreds of pellets every day. An average-sized rabbit should expel 200 to 300 pellets a day. However, this number might change depending on your bunny’s food and water intake.
Like other pets, rabbits poop after eating. Your rabbit will typically poop after four hours of eating its first meal.
As for the cecotropes, they’re excreted at the same time daily. Some rabbits might poop –then eat– the cecotropes at night, while others do it in the morning or afternoon. This depends on the feeding schedule of your furry friend.
Round poop is indicative of a healthy rabbit. Not only do rabbits re-ingest the cecotropes, but they also consume a lot of fiber. This means the water gets reabsorbed from their poop, resulting in rather dry pellets.
The regular pressure and movement of the rabbits’ intestines can then shape the dry poop into perfectly round pellets.
If the shape of your rabbits’ stool is irregular, there might be a problem with their diet or digestive tract. So, it’s best to consult the vet.
Since rabbits have a complicated digestion process, the best way to determine your bunny’s health is through its poop!
If your pet is perfectly healthy, its poop should be round, friable, and dry. The feces are often light brown, with plenty of chewed-up hay inside.
In addition, the size of the pellets should be uniform, about 0.3 to 0.5 inches in diameter. You don’t have to pull out the measuring tape, though! Your bunny’s poop is the same size as chickpeas.
On the other hand, you should consult your vet in case of the following:
- Irregular pellets
- Increasingly dry and crumbly droppings
- Groups of droppings strung together
- Soft, watery stool
Your bunny eats its poop while you’re not looking. Usually, cecotropes are produced late at night or early in the morning. So, it’s even more difficult to catch your bunny eating them.
Rabbits will also consume the night droppings while they’re cleaning themselves. If you find your pet chewing while cleaning its belly, it might just be eating the cecotropes.
Since rabbits groom themselves while eating their feces, their behinds will be clean.
Simply put, if your furry friend is clean, and its pellets look healthy, then your pet is most likely eating the cecotropes. Alternatively, any of the following might indicate that your pet isn’t eating its poop:
- Soiled hind end, with small, sticky droppings
- Presence of cecotropes in the rabbit’s litter box
- Irregular and soft poop
Rabbits are easily scared, so they won’t show when they’re sick. That’s why you need to pay close attention to your pet’s poop to assess its overall health.
Here are the most common problems you might find in your rabbit’s poop:
If your pet’s droppings are dark and hard, your bunny is probably too dehydrated. While rabbits’ poop is usually dry, this dark color is a sign of too much protein and not enough fiber.
In this case, your furry friend might benefit from more hay and less pellet food in its diet. You should also encourage your rabbit to drink more water.
Sticky, moist poop means the rabbit is overeating. A diet rich in carbohydrates and sugar will cause this change in consistency.
Furthermore, the moist feces might be cecotropes! Naturally, more food means more cecotropes. However, this messes up with the timing of the night droppings.
There’s no way for your tiny pet to separate the cecotropes from the pellets. So, both types of poop mix together, creating this sticky, moist excretion.
Mucous covering your rabbit’s stool is rarely a cause for worry. If your furry pet has just taken some antibiotics, the medication will interfere with the bacteria found in its gut, causing mucous in your bunny’s poop.
On the other hand, if the mucous persists for a couple of days, this might be a sign of intestinal inflammation or parasites. You should consult your vet immediately.
There are many reasons for irregular stool. While your rabbit’s poop should be round, it might lose its shape if your furry friend isn’t eating enough.
Cluster droppings might mean your pet is stressed out. The stress causes the rabbit’s digestion to slow, resulting in these compound stools.
Double poops are also common in older bunnies, as they have a slower metabolism. That said, irregular poop might be due to parasites or intestinal obstruction.
For this reason, if you notice your rabbit’s poop isn’t as spherical, you should pay your vet a visit to determine the exact cause.
Rabbits poop a lot. If your rabbit isn’t pooping as often, it might not be getting enough food. Your pet’s stool should return to normal after eating and drinking plenty of water.
Alternatively, if your bunny goes 12 hours without droppings, don’t hesitate to take it to the vet since this might be a sign of gastrointestinal stasis.
Diarrhea is rare in adult rabbits. It’s almost always a result of poisoning or parasites. It can also be hard to tell apart from cecotropes.
If your pet bunny has diarrhea, it’ll have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Smelly poop
- Rumbling in the stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Decreased water intake
Why do rabbits eat their poop?
Healthy rabbits should eat their poop every night! Cecotropes are the type of stool that rabbits eat. It consists of partially-digested food.
For rabbits to get all the essential nutrients, they re-ingest the poop. Then, they can extract all the water and nutrients from the stool, leaving behind hundreds of tiny, dry pellets.
That said, bunnies are pretty secretive. They consume their dripping late at night or early in the morning, making it hard to catch them. If you spot your pet eating its poop, it’ll just look like it’s grooming itself.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Film/Video/Media Studies, as well as an associates degree in Communications. I began producing videos and musical recordings nearly 15 years ago. I am a guitarist and bassist in Southwest MI and have been in a few different bands since 2009, and in 2012 I began building custom guitars and basses in my home workshop as well. When I’m home, I love spending time with my three pets (a dog, cat, and snake) and gardening in my backyard. I also like photographing wild birds, especially birds of prey.