Guinea Pigs eating poop.
Ew! That’s so nasty of guinea pigs.
Well, it might look nasty, but it’s actually smart of our guinea pigs to eat their poop. What guinea pigs eat is not technically poop, it might look like poop and definitely comes from the same place, but it is cecotropes that are loaded with unabsorbed nutrients. This may sound confusing, I know. It was hard for me to digest when I first encountered this information.
Guinea Pig Eating Poop
Watching your guinea pig devouring its poop might fill you with disgust and make you question your piggy’s sanity. I get you; I have been there. “Ew! Ew! Ew! Why would they do that? Why would they eat their own shi*t? Have my piggies gone insane? Is there something wrong with my piglets?” Probably not in the same manner, but those were the words that came out of my mouth when I first watched my guinea pig eating its own poop.
Perhaps, you have had quite a similar reaction as well.
But wait, it gets more interesting. After finding my guinea pig eating poop, when I turned to the internet to see if other guinea pigs were doing it as well, what I found was more disturbing: they said, every guinea pig eats its poop and that the poop they eat is not actually poop—it’s a nutritious pellet.
You are not alone; I was perplexed as well—nothing made sense at first. However, as I continued going down the rabbit hole, I fully understood why my guinea pig was eating its poop. Continue reading to get your doubts cleared and understand why your guinea pig is eating its poop? How is eating poop healthy for guinea pigs? And how come the poop that guinea pigs eat is not technically poop?
Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?
Yes, guinea pigs eat their poop, but it is not technically poop. No doubt it comes from the same place and drops out of the same orifice; it is not poop but cecotrope—nutritious guinea pig poop.
Our guinea pigs actually excrete two kinds of poop pellets. While both kinds are generally called “poop,” they are not the same. One kind of pellet constitutes waste material that is no longer needed in the guinea pig body. The other kind of pellet is brimming with unabsorbed nutrients known as cecotropes.
Coprophagy The act of animals eating their own or that of another animal’s poop is termed coprophagy. In rodents like guinea pigs, hamsters, and chinchillas, the bacterial synthesis of nutrients happens in the lower gastrointestinal tract. Thus, the absorption of nutrients is very little. So, these animals end up passing all of the unabsorbed nutrients in the form of cecotrope pellets. These pellets are different from the poop pellets and are later consumed by the animals to benefit from their nutritional content.
Guinea Pig Cecotropes
These guinea pig cecotropes pellets are composed of nutrient material that is not absorbed during digestion. These nutritional pellets are softer, stickier, and a bit lighter in color (tinged with green or yellow) than the poop pellets, which are comparatively harder and darker.
|Guinea Pig Poop Pellet
|Guinea Pig Cecotrope Pellets
|· These are hard and less sticky
· These are darker in color (somewhere between brown and black)
· These poop pellets are left in the cage for you to clean
· Poop pellets of a healthy guinea pig won’t have a smell
|· These are softer and stickier
· These are lighter in color with a yellowish or greenish tinge
· Cecotropes are immediately consumed by guinea pigs so you might not get to see them
· Cecotropes might have a smell to them
How Often Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?
Guinea pigs eat their poop as often as they poop. As soon as guinea pigs pass the cecotropes, they eat them. A normal guinea pig poops around 100 times a day, so we can say that a guinea pig would be eating its poop (cecotropes) around 100 times every day.
Did You Know? The number of fecal pellets drops for a healthy guinea pig is around 100, and if it drops to 50, it would mean there is something wrong with your guinea pig.
Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?
From the above discussion, it has become clear that guinea pigs eating their poop is a perfectly normal and healthy activity. Guinea pigs eat their poop (cecotropes) to benefit from their nutritional value. These cecotropes are packed with useful nutritional elements that were not absorbed by the guinea pigs during the first round of digestion.
Is It Good For Guinea Pigs to Eat Their Poop?
Yes, it is very healthy for guinea pigs to eat their poop (cecotropes). These cecotropes are packed with useful nutrients that were not absorbed during the first round of digestion. The nutrients present in these nutritional pellets are easier to absorb as they have lower fibrous content. These cecotropes are also known to contain beneficial bacteria that are believed to be healthy for guinea pig gut health.
Cecotropes Help Restore Gut Biome of Sick Guinea pigs
Alongside killing bad bacteria, antibiotics often kill the good bacteria in guinea pig guts, leading to digestive issues like loose stool and gas in guinea pigs. Cecotropes make a healthy supplement for guinea pigs who have been on a round of antibiotics.
Cecotropes contain healthy bacteria that help restore the gut biome to healthy levels. Because of the healthy bacteria in the cecotropes, sick guinea pigs are often found stealing nutritious pellets dropping from their friends’ bottoms.
If you have a sick guinea pig on your hands, you can take cecotropes from a healthy guinea pig and feed them to your sick guinea pig to fix up their gut biome.
Final Verdict: Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?
Yes, guinea pigs eat their poop.
Guinea pig eating their poop is perfectly normal and healthy. Unlike the actual poop (feces), cecotropes that guinea pigs eat are composed of unabsorbed nutrients. These nutritious “poop” pellets are not only brimming with useful nutrients but also contain healthy bacteria that help restore the guinea pig gut biome.