We’d probably all prefer not to think about our rabbits’ poo. But faeces can provide important clues about your rabbit’s health. What does healthy rabbit poo look like? And what should you do if your rabbit’s faeces don’t look right?
We’ll talk about these questions and more. But first, please note that we’re not veterinarians at Home and Roost. This article is not intended to replace veterinary advice.
Why Rabbit Poop?
A rabbit has a complex digestive tract. A rabbit’s digestive tract is also delicate, and can get upset quite easily. And problems like diarrhea and gas, which are minor annoyances for us, can turn deadly for rabbits in a very short time.
Changes in droppings can provide a rabbit owner with an early warning system for a variety of digestive tract problems. So it’s important to know what healthy poo looks like, and how to spot signs of potential trouble.
What Should Rabbit Poop Look Like?
Generally speaking, what goes in the top comes out the bottom. But a rabbit’s digestive tract is a bit more complicated than that.
Rabbits produce two types of faeces: hard fecal pellets and softer cecotropes. Different processes lead to each, and each has its own purpose.
More on that in a bit.
Size and Shape
Rabbit fecal pellets are usually round. They’re usually a bit smaller than a chickpea.
Cecotropes are also round. You may see them sticking together like a cluster of grapes.
Pellets are harder than cecotropes. However, they shouldn’t be super-hard. You should be able to squish a pellet between your thumb and forefinger with a small amount of effort.
Cecotropes should be soft, sticky, and squishy.
A rabbit’s poo should be medium green, dark green, dark brown, or almost black.
Cecotropes tend to be brown. They also have a glossy surface.
This might surprise you. A rabbit typically produces between 200 and 300 pellets per day! And while this may be a chore to deal with, if you’re a gardener this “black gold” can be an unexpected gift.
What Does Bunny Poop Mean?
Your rabbit’s “output” can be a valuable clue to what’s going on inside. Here’s how to read your rabbit’s poo.
If your rabbit’s poo is on the darker side, it could mean that he or she is getting too much protein in their food.
Orchard hay is a protein-rich type of hay, which is great for the needs of baby rabbits. It could, however, be too rich for some full-grown adults.
If you’re feeding orchard hay, try switching to Timothy hay for forty-eight hours. The poops should become lighter and the hay content more visible over time.
Hair in Faeces
Rabbits groom themselves and each other. It should come as no surprise that they swallow a bit of hair in the process. And it’s also completely normal for that hair to exit through the bottom.
If you’re seeing a lot of hair, or poops linked by hair, try feeding your rabbit more fresh greens. This will both increase your rabbit’s dietary fibre intake and help to keep them hydrated. And these things will help their gut to keep moving along at a healthy pace.
Poops Stuck Together in Twos
If you’re seeing “doubles,” it could mean that your rabbit’s gut isn’t moving food through as quickly as it should. If you see a lot of doubles, and it continues, it’s time to speak to your vet.
Soft Faeces, Diarrhea
Soft faeces — not diarrhea — is often dietary. Some causes include:
- Sudden dietary changes
- Too many sugary foods, such as fruit
- Too much protein in the diet
- Not enough dietary fibre
- Dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut bacteria)
True diarrhea, however, is both rare and dangerous. It’s also painful, and the resulting dehydration can become very serious very quickly. True diarrhea is also often a symptom of a serious underlying condition, such as:
- A parasitic infection like Coccidiosis
- Certain types of cancer
- Poison exposure
If your rabbit has diarrhea, you need to seek veterinary help immediately.
Small, Round Poop
There are two main causes for noticeably smaller, round poops.
The first cause is stress. If your rabbit has experienced a stressful event, this may be one result. The poops should go back to normal within a few hours.
If your rabbit continually produces small poops, however, it may be a sign of chronic pain. It could also be the sign of an intestinal blockage. If you suspect a blockage, you need to see your vet as soon as possible.
Small, Misshapen Poop
Small, misshapen poops can mean that your rabbit isn’t eating enough. This may happen after a stressful event like a surgery. It could also mean your rabbit has a mouth or dental problem.
If your rabbit isn’t eating normally, it’s a good idea to speak to the vet.
Not Enough Poop
If you notice a sudden drop in “production,” it’s important to contact your vet.
GI Stasis is a painful condition that can turn deadly in a matter of hours. One common cause is an intestinal blockage. Stress and dental pain can also cause stasis. Dysbiosis, that is an imbalance in gut bacteria, can also lead to GI stasis
Mucus in or around the faeces can be a sign of digestive irritation. Digestive irritation is common after a course of antibiotics, for example. You might also see it if your rabbit has eaten something new that didn’t agree with them.
Excessive mucus, however, can be the sign of a cecal impaction, parasites, or another serious problem. If you observe a lot of mucus, or persistent mucous, you need to call the vet.
Are Rabbits Supposed to Poop a Lot?
Short answer? Yes.
Rabbits typically produce between 200 and 300 pellets per day. It’s a sign that their digestive system is working well.
However, if your rabbit suddenly starts pooping more than usual, or if their poops change in size, shape, or consistency, a trip to the vet may be in order.
Although the bacteria in rabbit poop is beneficial for them and for your garden, it’s still important to keep the enclosure clean and in good condition. Spot clean your rabbit’s litter box daily. And check your rabbit’s fur, especially around the bottom, for feces and urine.
Dry off any urine on your rabbit’s fur, and make sure that their bedding is dry as well.
Keeping your rabbit’s fur clean and dry will help to ward off flystrike.
Can You Overfeed a Rabbit?
Like all of us, rabbits love to eat. That means they can eat more than is good for them. And, just like all of us, they love foods that aren’t necessarily the best for them.
Most rabbits love pellets. But pellets are high in calories. They were developed to help meat rabbits to bulk up. And if you feed your pet rabbits too many pellets, that will bulk them up, too.
The House Rabbit Society recommends feeding adult rabbits no more than one-quarter to one-half cup of high quality pellets per six pounds of body weight, per day. They should, however, have 24-hour access to as much fresh hay as they will eat.
Hay contains all of the nutrients your rabbit needs. It also helps rabbits’ digestion to stay regular.
Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Poo?
You might have noticed that rabbits have a habit of snacking on their cecotropes.
Don’t worry! It’s not only common, it’s natural and beneficial. It’s nature’s way of making sure that no nutrient goes wasted.
What are cecotropes, again?
It all comes down to rabbits’ complex digestion processes.
First, the body divides food into three categories. The nutrients get absorbed, the waste is expelled, and a third group, which contains hard-to-access nutrients is subjected to a second digestion.
This digestion takes place in the caecum, where fermentation extracts even more nutrients.
Cecotropes are the by-product of cecal digestion. But the process isn’t finished yet!
Once the second round of digestion is finished, the cecotropes pass out the bottom. This generally happens at night, and your rabbit will often eat them at night. So you may never notice the process happening at all.
Eating cecotropes provides your rabbit with much-needed nutrients, particularly protein and B vitamins.
So, while it may seem disgusting to us, eating cecotropes is actually a healthy and necessary part of your rabbit’s diet.
Can You Compost Rabbit Droppings?
And it makes an amazing fertiliser, too.
Horse dung is a traditional fertilizer. For many people today it’s still the go-to choice for natural, organic fertilizer.
But a rabbit’s diet is very similar to that of a horse: hay, grass, and the occasional apple. This means that the stool is also similar in chemical composition.
Specifically, rabbit droppings are high in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. And every gardener knows how important those are.
Composting rabbit poo is easy. Simply add it to your compost pile, along with equal amounts of wood shavings and straw.
And if you don’t want to go to all that trouble, you can also use your bunny’s droppings directly in your garden.
Who knew there was so much to know about poo?
Your rabbit’s droppings are a reflection of their diet and general health. Keeping an eye on their shape, size, colour, and consistency can help you to spot problems that you might have missed otherwise.
Rabbit droppings also make an excellent, organic, all-natural fertilizer.
Did you learn anything you didn’t know? Is there something about rabbit poo that we forgot to mention? Tell us all about it!