Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating Her Cecotropes

Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating Her Cecotropes
Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating Her Cecotropes

Cecotropes are packed with nutrition. Sometimes rabbits stop eating their cecotropes. I recommend you understand why rabbits stop eating them. In fact, people ask me all the time why their rabbit stopped eating their cecotropes. So, why is my rabbit not eating her cecotropes?

There is a long list of reasons your rabbit is not eating her cecotropes such as dental problems, a diet filled with too many pellets, too many treats, not enough hay or not enough exercise. Try giving your rabbit fewer pellets with lots of hay and water every day. This will increase her eating of cecotropes and should improve her overall health. If she continues to not eat her cecotropes, take her to your veterinarian for a check up. Your vet will check her for a digestive illness.

What Are Cecotropes?

Rabbit makes two kinds of droppings. One is fecal matter which are round, dry pellets. The other is cecotrope which are produced in your rabbit’s cecum. Cecotrope are not fecal matter. Cecotropes are important nutrients from food that your rabbit needs to survive. Your rabbit produces cecotropes at different times of the day. Some rabbits produce cecotropes in the late morning or afternoon, other rabbits produce them at night. They’re  called “night feces.”  

Cecotropes give your rabbit essential nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin B12, fiber and protein. After the rabbit eats his cecotropes, all the nutrients get reabsorbed into his small intestine. If your rabbit doesn’t eat his cecotropes, most of the nutrients get lost into his regular feces. Second digestion of the cecotropes gives your rabbit more nutrition from her food.

What Does Healthy Cecotrope Look Like?

Healthy cecotropes look like a cluster of shiny, brown mulberry sized balls. They are soft and coated with a layer of mucus. They have a strong odor because of intestinal bacteria. Your rabbit eats them as they come out of her anus. Most of the time you won’t realize she’s eating them. If you see your rabbit duck her head down under her body, then sit up and chewing, she’s eating his cecotropes.

Best Diet To Produce Healthy Cecotrope

Too many cecotropes is another reason rabbits stop eating their cecotropes. Here is a list of what you should look for in rabbit pellets to guarantee your rabbit will not produce too many cecotrope.

  • Fiber- Choose the highest fiber content, nothing less than 18%, for best digestion.
  • Protein-An adult rabbit needs around 12% to 14% protein in his diet. Younger rabbits need more, around 16% for growth and development.
  • Calcium and Phosphorus- Your rabbit needs 5% to 1% calcium and 4% to 8% phosphorus in their diet.
  • Fat-Fat should be at least 2 % to 5% for a healthy rabbit.
  • Vitamins- Your rabbit needs an adequate amount of vitamins such as Vitamin K, Vitamin B, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. Read the label on the rabbit food to be sure he’s getting these vitamins in a good amount.
  • Hay-Your rabbit needs 80% of his diet in hay.  Rabbits can have an unlimited amount of hay. They need to fiber for digestive health and to keep their teeth trimmed.
  • Grass- Your rabbit can graze on grass or other plants at dawn or dusk. Don’t let your rabbit graze in your yard if it’s treated with chemicals or pesticides.

Why Is My Rabbit Not Eating Her Cecotropes?

Some rabbits stop eating their cecotropes. It’s important that you figure out why she’s stopped. Here are some reasons your rabbit might have stopped eating them.

  • Dental problems-If your rabbit’s teeth are too long, she can’t eat small cecotropes. This is a serious problem, take your rabbit to the vet to have her teeth trimmed and her mouth checked for other dental issues.
  • Arthritis or pain which means the rabbit cannot reach around to eat the cecotropes as they come out of her anus.
  • Overweight rabbits can’t reach around to eat its cecotropes
  • Overfeeding your rabbit pellets will cause her to not eat her cecotropes. She won’t be hungry enough to eat them.
  • Too many treats-Treating your rabbit to special food can pack on the pounds plus reduce her appetite for healthy foods like vegetables, hay and herbs. Limit treats to keep your rabbit eating her cecotropes.
  • Not enough hay-Your rabbit’s diet should be 80% hay. Fibrous hay keeps her digestive system working well.

How Do I Get My Rabbit To Eat Her Cecotropes?

If your rabbit stops eating her cecotropes, try reducing her pellet intake. Feed your rabbit fewer pellets, around 1/8 to 1/4 cup of pellets per every 4 pounds of rabbit is enough. Besides limiting the amount of pellets you give your rabbit, give her more hay. Hay will give her the fiber she needs and satisfy her need for chewing.

What If A Rabbit Isn’t Making Cecotropes?

Your rabbit’s body digests plants. Her stomach and small intestine can extract nutrients from fibrous plants for food. The cecum, the largest organ in a rabbit’s stomach, acts as a fermentation chamber for this plant material to remove all the nutrients from them. The cecum uses bacteria and fungal flora to change the food into amino acids, vitamins, and fatty acids for good health.

If your rabbit’s digestive system works well, he’ll produce cecotropes that are edible for your rabbit. But if her cecum isn’t working well, her body won’t make cecotropes. Here’s a list of why her body may not be making cecotropes:

  • Pain-Pain affects rabbits causing their body to shut down, pain can affect digestion function.
  • Medicines like antibiotics interfere with proper cecotrope production and digestive health.
  • Your rabbit ate a foreign object-If you think your rabbit swallowed something take her to your vet right away.
  • Disorder of her gastro tract or cecum which stops down the production of cecotropes.
  • Environmental -such as extreme temperatures, too hot or too cold
  • Poor sanitation
  • Lack of exercise
  • Emotional stress-Rabbits as prey animals are instinctively fearful and given to the flight response of their wild rabbit ancestors. Whether it’s real or perceived danger, it can affect your rabbit’s digestion and cecotrope production.
  • Diet too rich in carbohydrates, maybe too many pellets.
  • Not enough fiber.

Why Are My Rabbit’s Cecotropes So Soft?

Sometimes even if your rabbit seems healthy and it active, her cecotropes are too soft, maybe even gooey looking. Here are some other things to be on the lookout for:

  • Irregular sized and production of cecotropes
  • Mucus coming from your rabbit’s anus without cecotropes
  • Inflammation around anus
  • Weight loss
  • Fur coat looks dull, matted
  • Poopy butt

What Is Poopy Butt?

Poopy butt is the term for a rabbit’s poop that is extra soft causing her behind to be soiled. Usually, this isn’t from feces, but from too liquid, or gooey cecotropes that are sticking together as they come out of your rabbit’s anus. The mucus of cecotropes makes them extra sticky and hard to remove.

These cecotropes smell bad because they’ve stayed in your rabbit’s cecum too long.  When they’re excreted, your rabbit can’t eat them, because they’re liquidy and misshapen, making them impossible for your rabbit to eat. Poopy butt is usually caused by a diet high in pellets, which are often too high in carbohydrates and not enough hay.

Does My Rabbit Like Cecotropes?

Even though seeing your rabbit eat cecotropes that are coming out of her anus looks disgusting to you, your rabbit not only needs the cecotrope for her good nutritional health, she enjoys eating them.  Your rabbit loves her homemade snack. She’ll munch on them happily. Cecotropes give her a sense of peace and calm while she eats them.