Rabbits are known for their voracious appetites and lightning-fast nibbling, but did you know they actually eat their own poop? It’s true! Rabbits have a unique digestive system that produces two kinds of droppings – regular poop pellets and soft, nutrient-rich cecotropes that rabbits eat directly from their bottom. It may seem gross, but eating cecotropes is completely natural rabbit behavior. In fact, it’s absolutely essential to a rabbit’s health and digestion. Dive into this article to learn all about the amazing world of rabbit poop – what the different types are, why rabbits do it, and how their digestive system makes it possible. You’ll never look at bunny poop the same way again!

How Does a Rabbits Digestive System Work?

Rabbits have a unique digestive system that allows them to extract nutrients from fibrous, low-quality foods. The digestive tract of a rabbit is structured to facilitate a specific form of digestion called hindgut fermentation. Here's an overview of how a rabbit's digestive system works:

The rabbit's digestive tract consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, cecum, colon, and anus. Rabbits are herbivores that eat plant materials such as grasses, leaves, bark, and stems. They also eat their own feces, which allows additional absorption of nutrients.

When a rabbit eats, the food travels down the esophagus to the stomach. The stomach is quite small and food does not stay there long. From the stomach, food passes through the small intestine where nutrients like proteins and sugars are absorbed. Fiber and other undigested materials move quickly through the small intestine and into the large intestine.

The large intestine of a rabbit consists of the cecum and colon. The cecum is a large, sac-like structure connected to the colon. This is where rabbits engage in hindgut fermentation. The cecum contains cellulose-digesting bacteria and protozoa that break down and ferment fiber. This process produces volatile fatty acids that provide rabbits with energy and protein.

The colon absorbs some water and electrolytes from the food and forms waste into fecal pellets. The colon has two types of fecal pellets – hard droppings and soft blackberries. The hard pellets contain indigestible fiber and are not reingested. However, the soft pellets, called cecotropes, are eaten by the rabbit to allow further nutrient absorption.

316 words

What Is Hindgut Fermentation in Rabbits?

Hindgut fermentation is a process used by rabbits and certain rodents, such as guinea pigs and chinchillas, to digest plant materials. Here's an overview of how hindgut fermentation works in rabbits:

  • It takes place in an enlarged pouch at the junction of the small and large intestines called the cecum. The cecum contains a large amount of beneficial bacteria and protozoa.

  • These microbes break down and ferment fiber and other plant materials that were not digested in the small intestine. Through fermentation, the microbes produce volatile fatty acids, which rabbits can absorb and use for energy.

  • Common volatile fatty acids produced include acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid. Butyric acid provides the most energy for rabbits.

  • In addition to volatile fatty acids, hindgut fermentation also produces proteins, vitamins B and K, and other compounds that can be utilized by rabbits.

  • After the initial passage through the digestive system, the soft feces called cecotropes pass out of the rabbit's anus. Cecotropes contain the nutrients, proteins, and vitamins produced by the microbial fermentation in the cecum.

  • Rabbits directly ingest these cecotropes to further absorb the nutrients. This is called cecotrophy. Rabbits normally do this straight from the anus, so little cecotrope material reaches the ground when they engage in cecotrophy.

  • After reingestion, nutrients are absorbed from the cecotropes as they pass through the small intestine a second time. The remains are then excreted as hard fecal pellets.

So in summary, hindgut fermentation allows rabbits to digest and extract nutrients from fibrous, low-quality plant material that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. The process is vital for their survival.

321 words

How Do Rabbits Know Which Poop to Eat?

Rabbits produce two types of droppings – fecal pellets (regular poop) and cecotropes (soft, nutrient-rich night feces). Here are some ways rabbits distinguish between the two types in order to know which to eat:

  • Location – Cecotropes are excreted directly from the anus and do not end up on the ground or in the litter box. Rabbits turn around and consume cecotropes straight from their bottom. Regular fecal pellets are passed separately.

  • Size & Texture – Cecotropes are larger, softer, and stickier than hard fecal pellets. Cecotropes have a strong odor and mucus coating that may be attractive to rabbits. Regular poop is hard, dry, and pellet-like.

  • Timing – Cecotropes are produced at a different time than regular poop. Rabbits usually excrete cecotropes late at night or early morning when their digestive system is most active. This timing allows direct reingestion.

  • Color – Cecotropes have a distinct dark color from the nutrients, proteins, and bacteria they contain. Regular fecal pellets are lighter in color.

  • Taste – It is believed that rabbits can distinguish the different taste of cecotropes compared to regular poop. The nutrient content and bacterial profile give cecotropes a distinct taste.

  • Instinct – Rabbits likely have an innate instinct to recognize and consume cecotropes due to evolutionary adaptation. Consuming cecotropes is essential for rabbits to thrive, so an instinct drives this behavior.

So in summary, location, size, timing, color, taste, and innate instinct all contribute to a rabbit's ability to identify cecotropes and know that they should be consumed immediately while regular fecal pellets can be ignored. This allows them to maximize digestion and nutrient absorption from their food.

317 words

What Are the Two Types of Rabbit Poop?

Rabbits produce two distinct types of poop:

  1. Fecal Pellets

  2. Also called "hard poop" or "dry poop"

  3. Small, dry, rounded pellets

  4. Contain indigestible fiber, dried material, and waste

  5. Most common type seen in litter boxes

  6. Not eaten by rabbits

  7. Tan/brown color from fiber content

  8. Can be used as organic fertilizer

  9. Cecotropes

  10. Also called "night feces" or "soft poop"

  11. Larger, soft, moist, and sticky

  12. Contain nutrients, vitamins, proteins

  13. Directly excreted from anus at night then reingested

  14. Essential part of rabbit digestion

  15. Greenish-black color from bacteria and nutrients

  16. Often not seen as rabbits consume them immediately

Key Differences:

  • Fecal pellets are waste products not eaten. Cecotropes are nutritious with essential nutrients and eaten by rabbits.

  • Fecal pellets are small and dry. Cecotropes are larger and sticky.

  • Fecal pellets are excreted separately. Cecotropes come directly from the anus.

  • Fecal pellets are tan. Cecotropes are dark from content.

  • Fecal pellets are indigestible fiber. Cecotropes contain absorbed nutrients.

So in summary, the two types of rabbit poop have distinct characteristics and play different roles in rabbit health and digestion. Proper production of both is important for a healthy rabbit.

329 words

Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating Cecotropes?

It can be concerning if a pet rabbit stops eating its cecotropes. Here are some potential reasons why your rabbit may not be eating cecotropes and what to do about it:

  • Dental Problems – If a rabbit has tooth spurs or dental disease, it may avoid cecotropes due to pain. Seek veterinary dentistry treatment.

  • GI Stasis – When the digestive system slows, cecotrope production declines. Address underlying issues like dehydration, lack of fiber, or pain.

  • Diarrhea – Diarrhea or very loose cecotropes can make a rabbit disinterested in cecotrophy. Treat the diarrhea cause.

  • Obesity – Overweight rabbits may be unable to properly reach and consume cecotropes. Help the rabbit lose weight.

  • Arthritis – Joint pain may make it difficult to maneuver into cecotrophy position. Pain medication or mobility aids may help.

  • Environment – Unhygienic housing, stress, or inappropriate substrate may deter cecotrophy. Improve conditions.

  • Lack of Privacy – Rabbits may skip cecotrophy if they do not have a private space during active cecotrope time. Give them a safe, enclosed area.

  • Inexperience – Young, elderly, or newly adopted rabbits may not display normal cecotrophy behaviors if they were not properly learned. Be patient.

Monitor your rabbit's appetite, growth, and energy levels if they are not eating cecotropes. Seek medical advice if changes persist. With proper care, most rabbits will resume healthy cecotrophy behaviors. Contact a rabbit-savvy vet if concerns arise.

314 words

Why Is My Rabbit Eating Poop (Not Cecotropes)?

It can sometimes occur that a pet rabbit starts eating regular fecal poop from their litter box instead of just cecotropes. Some possible reasons are:

  • Nutrient deficiency – The rabbit may be lacking proper nutrition from its diet. Ensure unlimited hay, quality pellets, and vegetables are available.

  • Foraging instinct – Rabbits evolved to forage and graze frequently. Eating feces from the litter box can satisfy this innate urge. Provide more chew toys and foraging opportunities.

  • Boredom – An under-stimulated lonely rabbit may eat poop for something to do. Give the rabbit more attention, toys, and activities. Consider a bonded rabbit companion.

  • Medical issue – Problems like malocclusion, GI tract disorders, or dental disease could cause poop eating. Seek veterinary diagnosis.

  • Cecotrope imbalance – Irregular cecotrope production or inadequate cecotrophy opportunity can lead rabbits to eat fecal pellets. Review diet and environment.

  • Scent marking – Rabbits may deposit cecotropes on feces to communicate territorial messages. Ensure the rabbit is neutered or spayed and has enough space.

  • Environmental stress – Changes, small enclosures, or insufficient cleaning can cause rabbits to exhibit abnormal behaviors like poop eating. Improve housing and litter habits.

While eating regular feces may sometimes occur, it should never reach excessive levels in healthy rabbits. Identify and address potential causes but consult a rabbit veterinarian if the issue persists. With proper care, rabbits can break the poop eating habit.

319 words


In summary, rabbits eat their own poop as a normal, healthy behavior called cecotrophy. They have a specialized digestive system that produces cecotropes, or soft, nutrient-rich feces, which rabbits eat directly from the anus to maximize nutrition. Regular fecal pellets and cecotropes look different and play separate roles in rabbit health. Issues like dental disease, GI problems, stress, or inadequate diet can disrupt cecotrophy and cause rabbits to eat regular feces instead. With proper understanding of rabbit digestion and attentive care, rabbit owners can maintain normal, healthy cecotrophy behaviors in their pets. Consult an experienced rabbit veterinarian if poop eating is excessive or imbalanced in your rabbit.



Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.