MY RABBIT EATS ITS POKES, IS IT NORMAL?

In the exotics clinic, the owners often ask you this question: is it normal for my rabbit to eat his poop? and it is that rabbits do what is known as cecotrophy or pseudorumia.

Through this article we will try to solve all those doubts, sharing with you everything we know about the cecotrophy.

¿WHAT IS A CECOTROFO?

Rabbits produce two types of feces: “hard feces” and “soft feces”.

Cecotrophs are those soft stools which are darker and cluster-shaped.

They are feces rich in vitamins (B and K), volatile, essential fatty acids, lipase, amylase, bacteria …

From 3 weeks of age they are already capable of producing them.

These cecotrophos are eliminated following a circadian rhythm every 12 h and are ingested directly from the anus.

normal rabbit feces

Normal rabbit feces

Cecotroph

HOW IS THE CECOTROFIA PRODUCED?

The alimentary tract of rabbits is adapted for the digestion of large amounts of fiber, this conditions both their physiognomy and their physiology.

  1. The food is ingested and after chopping and chewing it passes through the esophagus into the stomach.
  2. The stomach produces a large amount of acid to sterilize the intake before going to the small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum).
  3. Nutrient absorption similar to that of any monogastric mammal occurs in the small intestine.
  4. large intestine (cecum, colon and rectum): Upon arrival in the large intestine, the digestion products that have not been absorbed are separated according to their size into:
    • Non-digestible fiber (long particles): They pass directly into the colon to end up forming hard stool and to be passed through the rectum.
    • Digestible fiber (short particles): These particles go back from the colon to the cecum to be metabolized by the latter’s microorganisms.

    After the fermentation of this matter, essential amino acids, water-soluble vitamins and volatile fatty acids are produced.

    Some of these particles are absorbed through the wall of the cecum, but most of them go on to form the cecotrophs that cover themselves with a layer of mucus to protect themselves from the pH of the stomach.

    Is VERY IMPORTANT that our rabbit ingests the cecotrofos to be able to benefit from the elements that compose them.

    WHAT IF I SEE CECOTROPHES IN THE CAGE?

    When ingested directly from the anus, they can go unnoticed by the owners and not be seen.

    Therefore, if we see a large number of cecotrophs in the cage, we must ask ourselves what may be happening …

    WHAT CAN BE?

    It may happen that our rabbit is producing more cecotroph than it can ingest, either because we are overfeeding, for very caloric or protein diets and even the lack of space and exercise can cause this to happen.

    On the other hand, it may happen that our rabbit cannot ingest it or because it has some type of dental pathology that causes pain…problems degenerative that make it difficult to move to ingest them …

    Therefore, if this occurs, you should quickly go to your veterinarian to find out what happens to your pet.