Rabbits – all about poo!
Read on for all you’ve ever wanted to know about rabbit poo!
What’s normal: know your bunny’s poo!
Rabbits produce two types of poo – small round waste pellets and larger squishy caecotrophs. While it may have a high ‘yuck factor’, knowing the difference between the two will help you monitor your pet’s health and keep them fighting fit. Let’s take a look in a bit more detail:
- Faecal waste pellets
Waste pellets are small, round and light brown in colour. They should not have any odour and a healthy rabbit should produce two to three hundred every day!
Noticed your rabbit’s poo pellets getting a bit smelly and a darker colour? This may be a sign that you need to add more fibre to their diet.
Poop fact: If your rabbit stops producing poo pellets, this is a bunny emergency! In this situation it’s best to contact your vet straight away.
Caecotrophs are soft, larger pellets that are mainly produced overnight. They are usually dark in colour and tend to be sticky, clumping together like a rather revolting bunch of grapes!
You should only see caecotrophs occasionally, because normally your bunny will eat these straight from their bottom – yuck! Not your idea of a tempting snack maybe, but caecotrophs are super important for keeping your fluffball healthy. This is because they are rich in protein and vitamins, as the bunny’s gut doesn’t absorb all the goodness from the food the first time it passes through.
By eating these nutrient-rich caecotrophs, bunnies give their food a second trip through the intestines, enabling them to absorb more from their diet. The second time, the poop comes out as faecal waste pellets.
Clues from poo!
So what can your rabbit’s poo tell you about their health? Being prey animals, rabbits are experts at hiding signs that they are under the weather – in the wild, any sign of weakness makes a bunny highly vulnerable to being gobbled up by a passing predator. One thing that they can’t hide though is their poo. By learning what’s normal for your bun, you will be able to pick up on warning signs that all is not quite right.
- Increase in caecotrophs
Have you noticed more caecotrophs than normal in your bunny’s living quarters? There are several reasons why you might be seeing some of these squishy poos, some more serious than others:
- Lack of fibre in the diet
- Too many carbohydrates or sugary treats in the diet
- Obesity – rabbits that are overweight may be unable to reach their bottom
- Arthritis – arthritic bunnies may struggle to bend round to their rear end
- Dental disease - overgrown teeth or a sore mouth may make it tricky for bunnies to eat their caecotrophs
- Illness - any illness that reduces appetite is likely to lead to a decrease in the number of caecotrophs that are eaten
- Decrease in faecal waste pellets
A reduction in the number of faecal pellets can be a sign of serious illness so seek veterinary attention without delay. Some of the commoner reasons for this worrying sign are:
- Lack of hay or grass (important sources of fibre) in the diet
- Illness or stress – these can slow the normal passage of food through the gut
- Gastric stasis – this is when the gut contractions stop completely. This is a life-threatening condition requiring urgent veterinary attention.
Supporting your bun with a healthy diet
Changes in poo often reflect a problem with your bunny’s nutrition, and feeding the correct diet is key to keeping those delicate bunny guts in full working order. A healthy diet for a pet rabbit should include:
- Unlimited access to hay
Wild rabbits have a constant supply of fresh grass and spend much of their time grazing. For pet rabbits, hay provides a great alternative, especially in the winter when grass is in short supply. Offer your bunny unlimited access to fresh hay – as a rough guide, they should eat a portion equivalent to their body size every day making up approximately 80% of their daily food intake. Try Burgess Excel fresh forage for high quality fibre made from barn grass https://petwell.co.uk/collections/burgess
- A handful of leafy greens
- A portion of rabbit food
- An occasional treat
Most of us like a treat every so often and our fluffy friends are no different! How about a small piece of broccoli, or a slice of apple or cucumber? Or why not try Johnson’s Rabbit Harvest Munch? https://petwell.co.uk/products/johnsons-rabbit-harvest-munch-70g-pack-of-18 This wholesome snack is packed with seeds, nuts and cereals and provides a delicious supplement to a balanced bunny diet.
For a great selection of healthy rabbit food to keep your bun on top form, why not check out the full range at: https://petwell.co.uk/collections/small-pet-food-treats.