Many owners are reluctant to keep a rabbit indoors, as they worry about the possible stench around the home. Bunnies make great house pets, but does rabbit poop smell?
Healthy bunny poop is almost odorless to the human nose and barely smells at all. Round, dry rabbit droppings are easy to remove and one of the easiest pet droppings to deal and dispose of.
However, if you notice that your bunny’s poop pongs a bit, it could be a sign that all is not well.
Our complete guide explains everything you should know about rabbit poop and if it is time to take your bunny to the vet.
About Rabbit Poop
Now I know it is probably not a subject you want to read about, but as a caring owner, learning the facts about bunny poop is the key to a healthy pet.
Signs that your rabbit is sick can often go undetected as they are hard-wired to mask their symptoms which is why knowing your pet’s personality and habits is a must.
However, rabbits cannot hide their droppings, so you must keep an eye out for any abnormalities in your bunny’s feces.
The average bunny makes roughly 200 to 300 poops a day. But unlike other mammals, rabbits produce two different types of droppings, fecal pellets and cecotropes.
What is Healthy Rabbit Poop?
To know if there is something wrong with your rabbit, first, we need to understand what normal bunny poop looks like.
Healthy rabbit poop is known as fecal pellets and made up of undigested hay or food. They are the type of droppings you will see in and around your pet’s litter box or when out for a walk in the countryside.
They are small and round, resembling cocoa puffs and should be firm when squeezed but not rock hard.
These odorless droppings range from light to dark brown in color, and the size varies from that of a green pea to about the size of a chickpea.
If your rabbit is healthy, its poop should be plentiful and consistent in size and color, which shows they are receiving the right amount of fiber in their diet and are hydrated.
Do Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop?
As gross as it might sound, it is true that rabbits eat their own poop! (Source)
However, they don’t consume the fecal pellet type droppings that we have just been discussing.
As herbivores, bunnies consume mostly hay, but it can be challenging to digest and extract vital nutrients such as protein. After the food has passed through their intestines, it still contains essential nutrients that a bunny needs.
Therefore, rabbits do what is called hindgut fermentation, whereby they eat their own poop and digest it a second time. This process is known as coprophagy and similar to cows chewing the cud. Source
Nutrients are compacted together to form droppings called cecotropes which are a vital food source for bunnies. (Source) They are dark, squishy and smelly, coated with a layer of mucus and are stuck together like a bunch of grapes, being almost black in color.
The good news is that you won’t see many of these stinky pellets lying around as rabbits usually eat them straight out of their bottoms!
You may have noticed your bunny cleaning himself around the anal area then look like he is munching on something. Most likely, it is cecotropes.
However, rabbits often enjoy this nutritious snack at night, which is why some people refer to them as “night feces.”
How do Rabbits Know Which Poop to Eat?
When cecotropes go into the rectum, a neurological signal transfers to the bunny’s brain that these nutritious droppings are on the way, and they instinctively consume them, eating them whole.
Your bunny must ingest this type of poop, so never discourage him from doing so.
What Bunny Poop Tells You About Your Rabbit’s Health
One of the early signs that there is something wrong with your pet rabbit is abnormal poop.
If your bunny’s poop is very dark in color, they may have too much protein in their diet.
Alfalfa hay contains rich amounts of calcium and protein, which is not suitable for an adult rabbit, although good for young, growing bunnies. (Source)
Feeding high amounts of protein to a rabbit over a long period can result in health issues like obesity, diarrhea or stomach upset.
Timothy hay is ideal because it is high in fiber but low in protein and calcium, and your bunny can have unlimited amounts.
Not Eating Cecotropes
It is rare to see cecotropes in your rabbit’s enclosure or litter box, but although you may notice the odd one here and there, there should not be an excessive amount.
If you do see lots of cecotropes, it could mean your bunny has too rich a diet, so cut down on the pellets and processed treats and feed more hay.
Other reasons might be that the rabbit cannot reach them either through obesity or because of injury or arthritis.
Or he has dental issues and finds it painful to eat or is suffering from stress.
If your rabbit continues not to eat their cecotropes, they may experience diet deficiencies, so take them to see the vet.
A common complaint seen in pet rabbits is cecal dysbiosis, intermittent soft cecotropes not appropriately formed, resulting in a dark and mushy, smelly mess.
You will see these droppings either stuck to your bunny’s anal area or mashed up on the floor.
Cecal dysbiosis is not a disease but a symptom of a disorder which may include:
• Dental issues
• Incorrect diet
• Respiratory infections.
A rabbit suffering from cecal dysbiosis can still pass fecal pellets as usual.
Small, Round Poop
If you notice your rabbit’s droppings are smaller than usual, there are two notable causes, one which includes stress. If this is the case, the droppings should go back to normal within a few hours.
However, a rabbit who continuously produces smaller than average droppings may indicate chronic pain and could be a sign of a blockage. Immediate veterinary attention is required.
True Diarrhea in Rabbits
True diarrhea is rare in adult rabbits but is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal, so you should never ignore it.
There are several causes which include:
• A diet low in fiber
• Change in diet
• Liver disease
• Certain cancers
• Gut infection.
If you notice your bunny has diarrhea, seek immediate veterinary attention.
Rabbit Not Pooping
While rabbits can suffer from constipation, it is rare.
If your bunny is not passing any droppings, then there is a severe cause for concern as it may be a potentially deadly condition known as GI stasis, where the digestive system slows down. Source
Causes are usually:
• A high starch, low fiber diet
• Pain from an underlying issue or illness like dental problems
• Intestinal blockage.
Immediate veterinary attention is required.
How to Help Your Rabbit Make Healthy Poop
Bunnies need plenty of hay to produce healthy fecal pellets and cecotropes. A rough guide is to feed a bundle of hay that matches their size every day and a handful of leafy green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
Can You Compost Rabbit Poop?
What do you do with all those droppings your bunny makes?
Rabbit poop is high in nitrogen and phosphorous crucial for plant growth. It makes excellent fertilizer and has four times the nutrients of horse or cow manure, which most people choose.
As cold manure, you don’t even have to compost it first and can spread it straight onto your garden!
You can now see that keeping an eye on your bunny’s poops is an essential part of rabbit ownership as it reflects their health and well-being.
Continuously monitoring your rabbit’s droppings for size, color, odor, and consistency can help you pick up early signs that something is wrong.
Remember, rabbits require specialized treatment, so make sure you always take your bunny to a rabbit savvy vet or exotics vet.