It's gross but it's healthy for bunnies to eat their droppings.
Typically a minimum of once a daily, a rabbit will consume its poop. They have a preference for the timing of eating the fresh excrement, usually late at night or early in the morning.
The special name for this poop-eating rabbit act is cecotrophy. The little fecal pellets formed at night are called cecotropes or cecal feces--otherwise known as night droppings. Caecotrophy is a form of coprophagy, the act of eating anybody's poop for any reason, animal behavior most notable in canines.
Eating cecotropes has a nutritional purpose based on the unique digestive system of these herbivorous animals. The stomach breaks down food, essentially plant material, with acidic digestive juices and sends it to the colon through the large intestine then the small intestine, but not all of the food is readily digestible. With rabbits, indigestible fibers are excreted as daytime feces whereas digestible fibers head to the cecum for further absorption of nutrients.
So, technically your rabbit is eating cecotropes and while they are also released from the anus, they aren't feces.
These daytime feces are harder than the night feces as they're made up of relatively insoluble materials. Meanwhile in the cecum, special bacteria further break down the digestible fiber, eventually creating soft pellets that are expelled as night droppings, which your bunny eats.
Cecotropes are nutrient-rich with high levels of protein, limited fiber, and certain vitamins, including B vitamins. In the softer pellet form, these essential nutrients are more readily absorbed in the second go-around.
So if you see your pet rabbit ingesting its own feces, don't try to stop it from happening! Your rabbit is just taking care of its health and its digestive tract.
Did you know this about rabbits? Does your bunny eat rabbit poop? Tell us in the comments below.
WATCH NOW: Flemish Giant Rabbits Are Really Big Bunnies