Why Rabbits poop so much and what does their poop tell us about their health?
Are you thinking of getting your first pet rabbit, or have you already done so?
New rabbit pet owners are often surprised to see the pooping habits of these tiny, adorable creatures. Rabbits are small in size but they do tend to poop a lot, and pretty frequently. In a day, a rabbit may pop out 100-300 poop balls. It might soon turn out to be a headache for new owners.
Though their poop is easier to clean as it’s not as sticky as that of many other pets. But it’s a chore nevertheless!
In this article, we are not only going to learn about the reasons behind this irritating pooping behaviour of rabbits, but will also suggest some remedies. We will also discuss the various kinds of rabbit poops and the health signals they convey us. Read on!
- Reasons behind pooping behaviour of Rabbits
Reasons behind pooping behaviour of Rabbits
Rabbits poop when they run, when they eat, when we touch their tail, etc. But why so much, and so often?
Complex Digestive System
Digestive system of rabbits is very delicate and complex. Food does not stay inside them for long. It gets out of them very quickly. That’s one of the reasons why they poop all the time, especially when they are eating.
To understand their pooping behaviour further, we will need to understand the major types of poops they produce.
Rabbits poop may be categorized under two categories:
- Normal Rabbit Poop: Individual poop balls that we often see, often called as fecal pellets.
- Cecotropes: These are clusters of poop balls. Rabbits digest their food in two phases. Cecotropes are the middle phase – they contain many nutrients and have undigested food. That’s why rabbits often eat these cecotropes right out of their butt and you will rarely see them lying on the floor. These are essential for a rabbit’s complex digestive system.
So, one of the reasons why rabbits poop so much is because they digest their food in two parts.
Food → Nutrient rich Cecotropes → Fecal pellets
If you see a lot of Cecotropes laying around in your rabbit’s litter box, it’s a sign of unbalanced food-diet. It may be because your rabbit has been eating a lot of pellets and sweets, and not that much of hay. Lack of hay (i.e. fibre) may lead to such poop behaviour on the part of your rabbit.
Rabbit poop also acts as a signal of the territory they occupy. So, in the wild it has some evolutionary significance.
Also, rabbit poop is rich in nitrogen. We all know that rabbits poop as they eat. In the wild, they poop on the lush green grasslands, which in turn helps as a fertilizer for grass and plants to grow in the future. So, in a way, we can say that rabbits’ eating and pooping behaviour is pretty sustainable. They take care of their future food supply while eating at present.
Sickness or Stress
If your rabbit is pooping too much/less, or the nature of poop has changed, it may be because of some underlying physiological or psychological problem.
Normal rabbit poop may vary from one rabbit to another. But, generally speaking, it should be the size of a pea (may be as large as a chickpea/garbanzo too), rounded, and kind of black in colour. You should notice the number of faecal pellets produced by your rabbit, their normal size, colour, etc. If there’s any change in the pattern, it may be a symptom of some health-issue in your rabbit.
Diarrhoea: If your rabbit stops pooping or has diarrhoea, consult a vet ASAP. Diarrhoea in adult rabbits is rare (generally happens because of food poisoning) and can be fatal.
Small poop: On the other hand, if your rabbit is producing a lot of small-sized faecal pellets (smaller than usual), then it may be because of some digestive issue or because it is under stress. Some of such poops are not a cause of worry. But if your rabbit is producing them a lot and on a regular basis over multiple days, then it may be a cause of concern.
Double poop: If the faecal pellets produced by your rabbit are coming out in pairs or triplets, i.e. they are merged together in a group of 2-3 (called double poop, or triple poop), then it may indicate that the digestive system of your rabbit is probably slowing down. Some of such poops are not a cause of worry. But if your rabbit is producing them a lot and on a regular basis over multiple days, then it may be a cause of concern.
Linked poop: Sometimes, rabbits produce poops that are linked together with thread like structures. These are called linked-poops. These kinds of poops generally occur when rabbits are shedding. They eat up a lot of their fur while grooming themselves and produce such kinds of linked poops. If your rabbit is producing a lot of such linked-poops then make sure to groom your rabbit, and remove excessive fur from their body.
You should consult a vet in all of the above cases. The issue may not be serious, but it’s always prudent to take advice from an expert at the right time.
Now, what can we do to reduce our headache due to the excessive poop situation. Let’s share a few tips.
Litter Train your Rabbits
Yes, just like cats, rabbits can also be litter trained. However, litter training of rabbits is a bit more challenging than cats, and some rabbits keep on forgetting their training – which essentially means that we need to conduct a refresher course for them time and again. If you want to learn more about litter training of rabbits, you may read this article of ours.
Ensure that your litter box is decent in size. Otherwise, your rabbit may poop outside it even while sitting in it. Also, as rabbits jump as they walk, some of their litter may accidentally be kicked out of the litter box. A big litter box, with decent high walls will help you avoid such issues.
Litter training you rabbits will also allow you to monitor their poop. If a rabbit gets sick, or is about to get sick, the quantity and/or quality of its poop may change.
Restrict their area
Some rabbits cannot be litter trained. If you have such a rabbit, you may restrict his area – maybe get a big cage for him, or keep him in a room.
However, make sure it’s not too small. Rabbits need some space to exercise and run around. Also, keeping them restricted to one place may have psychological ill-effects on them. So, make sure to offer them open spaces to run around and play at least once or twice a day.
If you are like me, and do not like the idea of putting them in cages or restricting there area too much, you may use bitter spray on and around the area where you do not want your rabbits to go. You may make it on your own or buy a commercial one. Its smell will deter them. And of course, they cannot poop where they cannot go!
Consult a Vet
If your rabbit is pooping in an abnormal way, it might be because it is stressed and/or unhealthy. In such as case you should consult a vet. Once he’s healthy, his normal pooping behaviour will return soon on its own.
Kindly do not try to apply some innovative and unprescribed method to reduce the fecal pellets produced by your rabbits. Rabbits have a very delicate digestive system. Any obstruction in their digestive system may make them ill and may cause their death.
If you are keeping rabbits as pets, be mentally prepared to deal with their poop problem. You may apply some remedies listed in this article, and reduce this problem to some extent. But you cannot eliminate it completely. And that’s true for almost all pets to some extent, not just rabbits.