Why do rabbits eat their feces or poo?

Note: This question is about fecal pellets, not cecal pellets (cecotropes). If you've seen your rabbit apparently eating its droppings, and you don't know about cecotropes, see the related links below for info -- probably it's just cecotrophy and nothing to worry about.

There is not much information available about rabbits eating their feces.

Some people say rabbits eat their feces when they get bored. Boredom in rabbits can be very serious, leading to anxiety, depression, destructiveness, aggressive behaviours, and illness. If your rabbit is bored, that's a good sign you need to renovate her habitat so that she has plenty of diversions to keep her entertained, and you should spend plenty of time with her every day so she can socialize, play, and exercise.

Some people say rabbits eat their feces because they're hungry or not getting enough nutrients. If a rabbit is that hungry or undernourished, it is not healthy. Rabbits should have 100% 24/7 access to hay. When a rabbit always has hay to eat, it will never get so hungry that it eats its feces. Hay is also very important to keep the rabbit's teeth worn down, and to keep the digestive system moving properly -- hay also helps cut down on boredom! A rabbit should get balanced nutrients from its pellets and some fresh greens every day. Not all rabbit pellets on the market are very healthy: research what makes a healthy pellet and make sure that's what you're feeding your rabbit. Remember: dietary changes (even good ones) must be done very gradually so the rabbit doesn't get sick.

Some people have noticed their rabbits eating their feces soon before they found out their rabbit was ill. Rabbits do often change their eating habits when something is wrong in their mouth (overgrown teeth, abscesses, throat tumour, etc.).

One person writes that it's normal for rabbits to eat feces: "When a rabbit eats hay or pellets, it practically goes right through them, so when they smell their droppings, it smells very much like actual food." Not many people agree with this statement, however.

Whether it's boredom or illness, it seems likely that rabbits eating feces is a sign of distress. Whatever the cause, it isn't normal or healthy for rabbits to eat their feces, so if your rabbit is doing this, you should do something about it:

  • Pay very close attention and look for other signs of ill health. If you see any, make an appointment with your vet. If in all other ways your rabbit seems normal and healthy, then a vet appointment might not be necessary, but do tell your vet about it at the next regular check-up.
  • Do some research about rabbit care and behaviour to make sure you're taking care of your rabbit properly. You may think you know all about rabbits, but everyone can stand to learn a bit more! This is for the sake of your beloved pet, after all.

Because they've got nothing else to eat.