Did you know that the majority of rodents and a number of small mammals, rabbits especially, have a unique form of poop?
Cecotropes allow these animals to gain more nutrients from their daily meals through a particular digestive process.
It may seem like a gross process for an animal to go through, but it’s incredibly beneficial to their health and something that is naturally done.
Cecotropes are also known as coprophagy, hindgut fermentation, and pseudorumination.
They make up approximately 30% of a rabbit’s nitrogen intake and include between 25 to 30% crude protein.
Cecotropes – What They Are and How They Are Produced
Dubbed as soft feces and night feces, cecotropes are the end result of fermented food that comes from the cecum, which is the digestive system of the rabbit.
Cecotropes are moist, soft, bunches of rabbit poo that have a green, mucusy look to them. They look completely different from regular rabbit poo, which come out as singular pellets.
Once released from the bowels and the body, in general, a rabbit will consume them to absorb more nutrients.
They contain high levels of Vitamin K, Vitamin B, fiber, and protein, so this gross snack is packed full of all the things your rabbit requires.
Animals, just like humans, posses hindgut fermentation and have an esophagus that is connected to the stomach, which is where the food goes to enter the small intestine.
From there, nutrients are absorbed into the body and further passes into the colon.
In rabbits, and other animals who go through this specific poo-related process, the larger particles of fiber go through the colon rather quickly and are then expelled out of the body as typical pieces of poo.
However, the process of cecotropes gets a bit complicated when it’s being made. The portion of the poo that is rich in nutrients isn’t expelled immediately, but is moved into the cecum, which is located between the colon and the small intestine.
It’s then broken down using a special bacteria and creates nutrients that can be further absorbed and then expelled from the body.
The end result is the poo that rabbits eat to gain extra nutrients – the cecotropes.
This process is essential to a rabbit’s way of life. If they don’t produce and eat cecotropes, they won’t be able to get the amount of nutrients they need.
Rabbits who can’t produce or are unable to consume cecotropes often end up needing treatment for malnutrition, so if you see this type of poo in your rabbit’s cage, don’t remove it or clean it out.
Potential Problems With Cecotropes
The biggest problem seen with cecotropes and rabbits is that not all of it is consumed sometimes.
If your rabbit is having an issue with their cecotropes and develops Poopy Butt, you will need to reduce their protein intake.
However, sometimes rabbits will try to consume more than they need to make up for a low-carb or low-protein diet, which is equally just as big a problem. This instance will require you to up the amount of protein they get a day.
Knowing When Something is Wrong
If your rabbit is experiencing issues with their cecotropes, make sure you bring him or her to a vet as soon as you can.
This process is crucial to their health, so any problems with it must be sorted out right away.