Caecotrophy is a natural phenomenon for nutrient recovery. In fact, the practice of caecotrophy consists of an animal to produce two types of feces during the same day which is different from coprophagia where only one type of feces is produced.
The rabbit exclusively reinvents the type of droppings called caecotrophes (or soft droppings) which consist of a partially modified digestive content and systematically rejects the other type which in fact represents the real droppings that are nicknamed hard poop and which are found in the litter. Caecotrophs are characterized by their significant nutritional content in protein (20 to 30% in dry matter) and their undeniable richness in water-soluble vitamins.
This behaviour, although it seems strange at first sight, is very important for the rabbit, for the recovery of nutrients produced by the bacteria of its intestinal tract and which are essential for the optimal maintenance of its health.
Caecotrophy is present in young rabbits from the age of 3 weeks. However, you may not notice this habit since this type of feces is mainly produced during the night, excreted at dusk and consumed by the rabbit as soon as they leave the digestive tract.
In short, if you see your rabbit eating his feces… there’s nothing to worry about. This is quite natural behaviour and the absence of it would be quite alarming. Note that stress, illness or the type of food are all causes with the potential to disrupt this vital and delicate process.
Sophie Gauthier, agr
Director General Nature Bélisle Division