Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Are Cecotropes and Why Do Rabbits Need to Eat It

*Thumper, the bunny we found alone in an alley and took him in until we could find him a forever home*

Having a rabbit can be a wonderful experience for you and your family. They are wonderfully intelligent and playful pets. In order to have a healthy rabbit there are things you should know.

Why do rabbits eat their poop?
Small animals like rabbits have a unique digestion system that allows them to get more nutrition from the foods that they eat. Rabbits produce two types of droppings, fecal pellets and cecotropes.

Rabbits won't normally eat the fecal pellets but they will eat the cecotropes. Cecotropes are produced in a part of the rabbit's digestive system called the cecum. You can tell the difference between fecal pellets and cecotropes because fecal pellets will be small dry individual pellets while cecotropes will look like soft clustered pellets.

Cecotropes are not feces, they are nutrient packed foods that your rabbit should eat to maintain their health. Most of the nutrients are not absorbed the first time a rabbit eats his food, therefore the cecotropes are produces so the rabbit can eat the foods again and get more of the nutrition from them. Cecotropes look different from fecal pellets, you can distinguish them from the feces because they look like a small cluster of dark grapes. At least they did to me.

What to do if your rabbit stops eating their cecotropes
Since the cecotropes are beneficial and really important to their overall health, should your bunny stop eating theirs, you should take him to a veterinarian's office.

If your bunny starts showing any other signs that he may be getting sick such as not eating, not drinking or lethargy, you should take him to an animal hospital.

Rabbits can become seriously ill very quickly and one of the first signs of that happening is lethargy and not eating or drinking water. Bunny's can go down hill fast so you should have a veterinarian picked out that will see exotics like rabbits before something should happen where you need one in an emergency.

When are cecotropes passed?
Rabbits will pass the cecotropes at different times, but the bunny I had would pass them mostly at night. Some rabbits may pass them during the day or early in the morning, it just depends on the rabbit.