Fecal matter can tell us a lot about the health of our rabbits

Maintaining awareness of your rabbit’s fecal matter can give insight into their overall health.

In a recent article on the American Rabbit Breeders Association website, titled “The Scoop on Poop” by Charlcie Gill, the finer points of rabbit droppings in relation to overall rabbit health are discussed. Essentially, rabbits produce two types of droppings: fecal pellets and cecotropes. The rabbit consumes the cecotropes as they exit the anus. The cecotropes are nutrient packed, dietary items that are essential for the rabbit’s health.

Normal cecotropes are dark, greenish-brown and resemble tightly bunched grapes. Each cecotrope is a soft, shiny pellet covered with mucus, and pressed into an elongated mass. They have a strong odor and contain massive amounts of beneficial bacteria that when ingested are re-established in the ceacum. After this, the rabbit will produce the small, brown fecal pellets that we are typically used to seeing.

When the rabbit begins to have diarrhea, there is generally an unbalance in the delicate intestinal system. Diarrhea is most common in young kits and older rabbits. One of the most common causes of diarrhea is coccidia. Additionally, hidden health problems can result in loose stool. Stress, malocclusion, urinary tract disorders, upper respiratory infections and torticollis (wry neck) can also trigger loose stool. When a rabbit experiences diarrhea, owners must be concerned about dehydration, which can rapidly result in death of the rabbit.

Keeping your rabbit’s diet well-balanced with appropriate amounts of digestible carbohydrates and crude fiber is the best management practice to help keep the intestinal track working as it should.

To learn more about Michigan 4-H animal science, visit Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Animal Science website.

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