Though rabbits are cute…
Sometimes they also do weird things.
One of them is eating their own poop.
It seems questionable and at the same time…
It makes you wonder why they do it and if it’s safe.
To clear your worries for your bunny, understanding how their poop works is crucial.
Read on to find out:
- 9 reasons why rabbits eat their own poop.
- Rabbit health issues that can affect their poop.
- Whether it’s safe for them to eat their poop or not.
- 9 tips on what to do if your rabbit keeps eating their poop.
- And a lot more important info…
Why do rabbits eat their poop?
Rabbits eat their poop because it’s nutritious for them. They have an organ called “ceco”. It creates cecotrope poops for your bunny to eat. Anything your bunny eats goes to the ceco so it can get recycled as a new source of nutrients and energy.
9 reasons why rabbits eat their poop
#1: To get nutrition
Rabbits are foragers in the wild. They eat whatever they can find.
They have to eat fast and also leave fast before a predator spots them.
But since they usually live in forests or grasslands, their main source of diet is grass or hay.
This is also why the organisms in their ceco organ evolved to process fiber from grass or hay.
Due to the lack of other nutrients, their ceco will do the job of getting the nutrients that they need.
It will break down the fiber to mix it with protein and vitamins that the rabbit needs.
Once the “cecotrope poops” comes out…
Your rabbit considers it a delightful treat.
This is why they’re happy to eat their own poop. They’re wired to think that their ceco-poops are the healthiest meal they can have.
“What does a cecotrope poop look like?“
A normal, healthy cecotrope is often long and has a glossy coating. The poop is sticking against each other, almost looking like berries.
While it’s soft and wet, it can stain your rabbit’s fur when they sit on it by accident.
If left on their fur, it will harden and can be difficult to wipe away.
Sometimes, it’s hard to spot a cecotrope poop because they will eat it as soon as they can reach it.
So where does this shiny, magical poop come from in their bodies?
As mentioned above, they have a special organ called the “Ceco”.
Here’s a more in-depth explanation of how it works, time for a little science.
There are bacteria organisms living Inside their ceco.
They are eco-friendly microorganisms that don’t harm your rabbit’s body.
They help break down any food your rabbit eats and convert it into a much nutritious meal.
It’s like they’re adding more spices and sugar to your rabbit’s poo, in a way.
They’re like the “chef” inside your rabbit’s body that makes sure their host can have a healthy diet.
After “cooking” the improvised meal, the bunny receives it through their poop.
That’s how your bunny gets their little treat. That’s the science behind why they eat their poop.
#2: They’re stressed
When a rabbit is stressed…
A lot of negative things can happen to their health.
It can make them collapse by causing issues one after another.
For example, stress can cause appetite loss.
If they lose interest in their food, a rabbit will miss out on important nutrients that they need.
For a rabbit, missing a single meal can be fatal for them.
To avoid reaching a state of emergency…
Their ceco will react right away.
You can think of it as something like this scenario:
“Oh no, our bunny friend is under stress! Warning, stress detected in the system! Commence counterattack. Make a nice meal to cheer them up.”
The ceco will notice if the body is slowing down due to stress. This is why the organisms might “panic” and give your bunny a cecotrope poop.
It’s an attempt to get rid of stress.
Continue reading: What do rabbits do when they are stressed?
#3: Poor diet
With their sensitive digestive system…
Even the smallest changes in their diet will affect them right away.
When their diet is affected, their body might think they’re not getting the right nutrients.
As a result, they will make more cecotropes and eat their own poop.
For example, when a rabbit is still young, they aren’t used to fruits or vegetables yet.
Their main diet is milk and hay.
If you give them too much sugary foods at a young age, it can greatly affect their diet.
For your baby bunny’s safety…
Give them fruits and veggies once they reach 12 to 20 weeks old.
Whenever you make a change to their diet, you have to do it slowly.
Another example is if their diet contains too much fiber.
Fiber will promote the production of cecotropes for bunnies, and they won’t want to waste that.
Every time they poop a cecotrope, most bunnies try to eat it right away.
Warning: Too much imbalance in their diet can lead to “cecotrope dysbiosis”. It’s a condition where the bacteria in their ceco lose balance, according to a study.
If this happens, their ceco-poops might have a foul odor.
#4: They’re young
Young rabbits are still in the process of exploring their world. Around 1 up to 2 months old, most of them are still young babies.
This means that they’re also in the stage of checking what they can eat and what they can’t.
They might eat their poop out of curiosity. After all, being curious is part of their fun nature.
Some rabbits might mistake their normal fecal poops for their food pellet.
It can happen if their food gets mixed up with their poop, since rabbits like to eat where they also use the bathroom.
Though they will often grow out of this behavior, some rabbits might keep doing it.
This is if their pellets are often mixed up with their poop.
What you can do to fix this is to get them a proper litter box.
The tray underneath can catch their poop so it doesn’t mix up with their food pellets.
#5: They’re bored
In some cases, rabbits can also do weird things out of boredom alone.
If they have nothing to do or run out of things that entertain them…
They might start trying to eat their own poop.
This is because boredom can also stress them out.
But at the same time, even if they aren’t stressed…
They might still eat their own poop only because they’re bored.
There’s no other reason other than them trying to look for something to do.
Warning: Too much boredom can be bad for your rabbit and lead to depression. They are active animals and always need something to do.
Here are 7 ways you can tell if your rabbit is bored:
- Digging everywhere.
- Scratching too much.
- Showing grumpy behavior.
- Making weird noises like grunting.
- Following you around for attention.
- Thumping their hind legs on the ground.
- Picking things up and throwing them in the air.
#6: Intestine problems
Sometimes, bunnies can have issues in their intestines as well.
This can happen if they don’t get enough fiber in their diet.
Too many pellets will give them too much carbohydrates. But, at the same time, not eating enough hay will result in lack of fiber.
This can cause issues in their stomach and can lead to GI stasis.
When this happens, they might poop more often…
And bunnies will try to eat to make up for the lack of fiber.
Cecotrope poops can cover the amount of fiber missing in their diet.
Note: If your bunny has stomach problems, their poop shouldn’t look and smell normal. The cecos can be deformed and show a different color. They might also have runny stool a.k.a diarrhea.
You might also like: 15 Alarming Reasons Why Your Rabbit Poops So Much + 11 Tips
#7: They don’t like their food
Most rabbits aren’t picky eaters.
Although a lot of them will eat any leafy greens and sweet veggies, they can still dislike some food.
For example, your rabbit might not like the pellet that you’re feeding them with.
There are many brands of rabbit pellets to choose from and maybe they just didn’t like the one you bought.
You can try switching up their pellets but do it at small portions at a time to not shock them.
Here are examples of the best pellets you can try:
- Kaytee Supreme Pellets.
- Sunburst Gourmet Blend.
- Sherwood Pet Health Timothy Pellets for Adult Rabbits.
Remember to not give them too many pellets as well and keep it balanced with more hay.
You can also give them sweet treats once in a while.
Like people, rabbits can also get bored of eating the same food at all times.
Even when they love their food, they will want to taste something new once in a while.
This is also part of the reason why a lot of rabbits get in trouble in the wild…
Because their curious nature takes them to dangerous places in search of treats.
Here are 7 ideas for treats that your rabbit might like:
- Carrot tops.
Remember not to give them too much. Keep it in bite-sized amounts to avoid too much sugar.
#8: To cover up their tracks
Bunnies are prey animals. In the wild, there are many predators out to get them.
One reason why rabbits always try to stay clean is to keep their body as odorless as possible.
But one thing that can give away their scent is their poop.
A lot of animals use poop to track down their prey.
Rabbits are no different from those preys.
But they are more than just poor targets in the wild, they can be smart too.
They know how to cover up their own tracks by being careful of where they poop.
There are even claims that smarter rabbits will poop in a place very far from their territory…
To lure predators away.
So if you see a rabbit trying to eat their own poop…
There’s a chance that they feel threatened by a predator.
Sometimes, they can sense a predator from a mile away. It’s thanks to their great sense of smell and hearing.
But rabbits eating their normal poop that are not ceco-poop is uncommon.
If your rabbit keeps continuing this behavior, take them to the vet.
#9: They’re lonely
As weird as it may sound, rabbits might eat their poop out of loneliness.
As social animals, they are used to having a companion around them.
They bond together and rely on each other for comfort.
So if your rabbit is lonely…
They might stop eating and fall into depression.
A depressed rabbit will have a weaker body because they’re not eating enough.
Because of this, their only way of receiving nutrients is through their ceco-poops.
At the same time, it’s a treat that can help them feel better as well.
A simple solution for this is to get a friend for your rabbit.
What happens if a rabbit eats its poop?
When a rabbit eats their poop, they’re only receiving the nutrients that they need. In most cases, nothing bad happens when a rabbit eats their poop.
This is because their cecotrope poop contains more protein and vitamins.
They don’t eat their normal fecal pellet poop.
You can tell the difference between fecal poop and cecotrope poop.
Cecotropes are glossy and they’re lumped together. Meanwhile, fecal poops are round and a bit hard, almost looking like a food pellet.
As stated throughout the article, eating their poop is a way for them to stay healthy.
But if they start eating even their normal poop…
It might be a sign that something’s wrong with your bunny.
They should know that their normal poop is not the same.
“What happens if a rabbit stops eating their poop?”
If a rabbit stops eating their poop, it’s also a bad sign for their health.
When a rabbit stops eating their cecotrope poops…
Something might be stopping them from doing so.
A few examples would be due to:
- Dental issues.
An overweight bunny may not be able to reach their ceco-poops.
At the same time, leg paralysis can also stop them.
If they also have pain in their teeth, they might have a hard time eating anything at all.
Any strange behavior calls for a check-up.
Contact your vet to see if there’s anything to worry about.
How do I stop my bunny from eating their own poop? 9 tips
#1: Avoid stress
As mentioned earlier…
Stress is not good at all for rabbits. It can turn deadly.
To make sure your rabbit is healthy, avoid the things that cause them stress.
Keep them in a clean, healthy, and peaceful environment.
Avoid exposing them to the presence of other animals…
Don’t carry them around for too long, keep them entertained too.
Loneliness can also stress them out.
Knowing the things that can stress your bunny…
Will help make it easier for you to avoid them.
Further reading: 21 Quick & Effective Ways To Reduce Stress In Rabbits
#2: Keep them entertained
If your rabbit is only eating their poop out of boredom…
It can be bad for them to stay bored. Their body might shut down due to lack of activity.
Keep your rabbit occupied in many ways.
Chew toys will keep them busy for long periods of time.
Make sure you give them enough attention as well.
Sometimes, they want more than playing with toys. They want your affection too.
Giving them more space to explore and roam around can also help make them happy.
If you have space in your yard, you can also let your rabbit dig.
This is a natural activity for them and will keep them too busy to even think of eating their poop.
You can watch this video as a reference:
Don’t forget to check out: How to bond with your rabbit?
#3: Keep them away from other animals
If your rabbit can sense other animals around, they might feel threatened.
Remember, they are prey animals and they can get scared by the smallest things.
For example, if there are loud barking dogs around, could be your dog or a neighbor’s…
Your rabbit might feel stressed because dogs are one of their predators.
They also have very sensitive ears, having a hearing range of 360 hertz up to 42,000 hertz.
Compared to humans with a hearing range of 64 hertz to 23,000 hertz, they can hear twice better than we do.
To fix this, you can keep your bunny in a soundproof room.
You can also consider relocating them to a more peaceful, safer place for them.
Clean up as often as possible to also cover up the scent of predators around.
If your rabbit isn’t bonded with other pets in the house, this will be a common issue.
You can consider getting them a rabbit companion to make them feel safe as well.
When rabbits are close together, their bond makes them feel comfortable enough.
#4: Clean environment
To keep your rabbit healthy, keeping them in a clean environment is crucial.
After all, they have very sensitive bodies compared to ours.
A clean room will be a safer place for them to live in. In fact, many health issues for bunnies start because of a poor or unhealthy living space.
Dust and bacteria buildup in the corners of their room can affect them.
Once a bunny gets sick, their body will start slowing down.
Prevent it by keeping everything around them as clean as possible.
If you will clean their room…
Make sure to keep them away from toxic chemical exposure.
Cleaning products such as air fresheners and wax can irritate them.
Let the odor wear off before putting them back in the room after cleaning.
#5: Provide a balanced diet
To make sure their body stays healthy, rabbits need a healthy diet.
A good, balanced diet for rabbits should have enough hay and a few vegetables.
Avoid giving too many pellets because it will give them too much carbohydrates.
Instead, offer more hay to let them receive enough fiber that they need.
Timothy, Brome, and Orchard are good options to feed them.
Hay is their main source of nutrients needed for their ceco to work.
For young rabbits, giving them KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) or goat milk once a day will keep them healthy too.
#6: Keep them hydrated
Aside from giving them the right food, giving them enough water also matters.
If a rabbit doesn’t drink enough water, they can get sick.
This is because they have small bodies…
Which means they can get dehydrated pretty fast.
The average rabbit needs to drink 1.69oz to 5.07oz (50 to 150ml) of water per day.
If they don’t get the right amount of liquid in their body…
The sickness can cause changes in their poops.
Their body will try to produce more cecotropes as an attempt to make up for the lack of water.
#7: Spay and neuter them
When your rabbit is showing territorial behavior, they might poop more than usual.
Though territorial poops are not the same as cecotrope poops…
Spaying and neutering can still help control this matter.
Doing this will help keep their hormones in check.
Thanks to that, their problematic behaviors can be put to a stop as well.
As a bonus, this method can help improve their lifespan.
It’s because it will remove the risk of getting any reproductive cancers for your bunny.
If you don’t plan to breed them at all, you should get them fixed as soon as possible.
Most rabbits reach adulthood as early as 3 months old.
To keep them safe and healthy, consult your vet once they reach sexual maturity.
#8: Litter training
If your rabbit doesn’t have other issues…
You can prevent accidents of them eating their own poop by litter training.
It can be done in a few easy steps.
First, buy a litter box. Make sure it’s big enough for your bunny to fit.
Second, put some of their fecal poops underneath the tray.
Third, place some hay and pellets on the box.
The scent of their poop and the food will draw them to the box.
If they start using the box the right way, you can try giving them a treat.
Reward them for their “good behavior” to make them remember it.
#9: Take them to the vet
Even if you already tried everything, visiting the vet is still a good choice.
If your rabbit doesn’t stop eating their poop and their eating becomes excessive…
It can be an alarming case for your rabbit and they might need treatment ASAP.
Spotting diseases in rabbits can be difficult because of their natural instinct to hide their pain.
There are some tests that only a vet can do for your bunny. Only a professional can give them proper diagnosis.
With a rabbit’s fragile body, it’s best not to hesitate.
Contact a vet immediately before it gets too late.