Rabbits have a unique digestive system and produce two types of droppings - fecal pellets and cecotrophs (cecal pellets). Fecal pellets are intestinal bi-products whereas cecotrophs are produced in a region of the digestive tract called the caecum and are not waste products but highly nutritious pellets which the rabbit should eat.
One of the easiest ways of keeping tabs on your bunny’s health is to keep check not only on what goes in, but also what comes out. As we have stated previously, not eating or pooing is a medical emergency. However there is a lot more we can learn from what a rabbit leaves behind.
What should a good bunny fecal poo look like? Why is it important to know this?
Checking your bunnies’ litter tray daily is one excellent way to check on their health. A good bunny poo should be a good size (in other words big), round, golden and it should be lightweight dry and break open very easily. This reflects a high fibre diet, good gut movement and the fact that your bunnies probably have good teeth.
A poo that is dark, hard, small, wet, runny or has fur in it is not ideal, and the causes should be investigated.
It may involve nothing more than modifying the diet or lifestyle (exercise/grooming) but if a change is made and no improvement is seen, then a possible medical reason for the poor quality should be considered.
The ideal diet to produce a good healthy poo will be 80-85% hay, with additional vegetables in small amounts and a top up of a good quality pelleted food.
If you are seeing tiny very wet dark poos, possibly in clusters like a bunch of grapes, then these are probably cecotrophs. Rabbits re-eat their cecotroph poos in order to process fully the nutrients available in their diet. You would not normally see them do this as they take the dropppings directly from their anus and eat them again. If you are seeing any of these ‘grape-like’ poos then there is something going wrong.
It may be as simple as them being overfed pellets or vegetables; the end result is them not being hungry enough to want to eat their cecotrophs. It could also be a medical problem, like the inability to bend down due to back pain. If after making changes to the rabbit’s diet you can still see excess cecotrophs, then you should seek veterinary assistance to discover what is wrong with your bunny.
A bunny who is producing too many cecotrophs is at severe risk of Flystrike, as flies are attracted to wet or dirty fur. So this is something that must be addressed as soon as it is discovered.