Unlike the majority of other mammals, lagomorphs (consisting of domestic bunnies) produce two types of droppings, fecal pellets (the round, dry ones you typically see in the litterbox) and cecotropes. The latter are produced in a region of the rabbit’s digestive tract called the cecum, a blind-end pouch situated at the junction of the small and big intestines. The cecum contains a natural community of bacteria and fungis that offer necessary nutrients and may even protect the rabbit from potentially damaging pathogens.
What Causes Rabbit Turds – Pellet Poop
How does the bunny get those necessary nutrients? She consumes the cecotropes as they leave the rectum. The bunnies joyous expression when she’s participating in cecotrophy (the intake of cecotropes) will inform you that she finds this anything however disgusting. In truth, bunnies denied of their cecotropes will ultimately succumb to malnutrition. Cecotropes are not feces. They are nutrient-packed dietary items important to your buddy rabbit’s good health.
A rabbit may produce cecotropes at different times during the day, and this periodicity might differ from bunny to rabbit. Some produce cecotropes in the late early morning, some in the late afternoon, and some during the night. In any case, they usually do this when you’re not watching (rather courteous of them). This may be why some people describe cecotropes as “night droppings,” though cecotropes are not always produced in the evening. A human face is apparently an outstanding and revitalizing palate-cleanser, as a favorite activity instantly post-cecotrophy frequently appears to be “kiss the caretaker”.
Normal Intestinal Products
Anybody who deals with a bunny has seen a fecal pellet. These are the small, brown “cocoa puffs” that (we hope) wind up in the litterbox. They ought to be fairly spherical, rather dry and friable, and composed mostly of undigested fiber. Rabbits do not normally re-ingest fecal pellets, though a couple of bunnies seem to take pleasure in a periodic fecal pellet hors d’ouevre without any damage.
A normal cecotrope looks like a dark brown mulberry, or firmly bunched grapes. It is made up of small, soft, shiny pellets, each coated with a layer of rubbery mucus, and pressed into a lengthen mass. The cecotrope has a rather pungent smell, as it consists of a large mass of advantageous cecal bacteria. When the bunny consumes the cecotrope, the mucus coat helps safeguard the bacteria as they pass through the stomach, then re-establish in the cecum.
Also read: Why Do Rabbits Eat Their Poop?
Runny Stool: When Things Go Wrong
True diarrhea (unformed, watery feces) is relatively uncommon in adult bunnies. It can be triggered by digestive parasites, such as coccidia (Eimeria spp.), roundworms, tapeworms, or anything that irritates the digestive lining. Your rabbit-experienced vet will be able to analyze a fecal sample (you should probably provide the veterinarian with a fresh sample both fecal and cecal pellets, if possible) to analyze them for signs of parasitic infection. More often, true diarrhea is seen in baby and juvenile bunnies.
Diarrhea in Baby Rabbits: A Life-Threatening Emergency
One of the most typical signs related to abrupt death in baby bunnies is diarrhea, which can appear extremely rapidly and kill in a matter of hours. Thus, it is of important significance that any baby bunny revealing signs of sleepiness, inappetence (not wanting to eat), or runny stool be taken immediately to an experienced rabbit vet for emergency situation, life-saving treatment. Postponing even for an hour or two can imply the difference in between life and death.
If you can not discover a rabbit-experienced veterinarian, but have an emergency situation center that is willing to accept assistance from unknown individuals on the internet (that would be me), then please print this Emergency Treatment Protocol for Diarrhea in Infant Rabbits. This is a protocol I developed while attempting to conserve wild baby cottontails and hares, and it is the only thing I have discovered that does save them. I hope nobody reading this ever needs it … however it is here, simply in case.
True diarrhea is more common in baby bunnies than in grownups, specifically if the children have actually been drawn from their mom prior to they are all set for weaning. Unfortunately, lots of baby bunnies are weaned too young to be far from their moms. Rather of being permitted to nurse for a full, normal 8 weeks, they are eliminated while they are still “cute” and marketable — frequently as young as 4 weeks. This can spell death for a lot of them.
Without mother’s antibodies, complex organic compounds and correct pH environment her milk supplies to assist secure the baby’s intestines, these children are extremely prone to over-proliferation of foreign bacteria. Among the most common perpetrators of runny stool in baby rabbits is unexpected infection by the typical human digestive tract germs, Escherichia coli. This is transferred from human beings to baby bunnies during handling, because these bacteria are all over us, not simply in our intestines. Managing an unweaned baby bunny without appropriately washing and decontaminating one’s hands is an excellent way to transfer these opportunistic pathogens. Even a loving kiss on a too-young baby bunny’s lips can kill. Until a young rabbit is at least 8 weeks old, she needs to not be drawn from her mom, as mom’s milk pays for defense versus E. coli and other bacteria until the baby’s own immune system can handle them.
Another pathogen that can cause diarrhea in baby rabbits is Eimeria spp., the causative representative of coccidiosis. The reproductive sporocysts of these protist parasites can usually be seen in the feces of the host, so your veterinarian may wish to examine the fecal sample of the affected bunny for signs of coccidial sporocysts.
Unformed Cecotropes: Mushy or Runny Stool
Perhaps the most typical complaint regarding rabbit health is the issue of mushy or runny stool staying with the bunny’s anal area and developing a nasty, stinky mess. For the most parts (in adult rabbits, at least), this mass is made of poorly formed cecotropes that have the consistency of tooth paste, instead of the normal type of bunched, squishy pellets.
The cecum is a delicately well balanced community. If the intestinal tract is moving too slowly, or if the bunny is getting a diet too rich in digestible carbohydrates and too low in unrefined fiber, the complicated population of bacteria in the cecum can become “unbalanced.” This condition is referred to as cecal dysbiosis. Cecal dysbiosis means that the advantageous bacteria (e.g., Bacteroides spp. and a variety of others, including archaeans) are outcompeted and surpassed by less desirable residents such as yeast (a fungus, usually Saccharomycopsis sp.) and even extremely hazardous bacteria such as Clostridium spp., associated to the ones that cause tetanus and botulism.
A bunny suffering from cecal dysbiosis will produce cecotropes that are mushy, pasty or even liquid. They are normally rather foul-smelling, and frequently stick to the bunny’s back end in terrific, nasty clumps. These unformed cecotropes are not a primary disease, however. They are a symptom of a disorder somewhere in the bunny’s system. In order to resolve the runny stool issue, the underlying cause should be resolved.
Typical Causes of Runny Stool in Infant and Juvenile Rabbits
- Weaning Too Young
If the bunny struggling with runny stool is a baby, how old is he? If younger than 8 weeks, and not with his mother, his runny stool problem might be because of his being weaned too young. Numerous family pet stores will (illegally) sell rabbits younger than 8 weeks of age (some as young as four weeks), because that is when they are still “adorable” and more apt to be purchased on an impulse. Unfortunately, much of these babies are destined succumb to digestive disorders.
Unlike a lot of mammals, baby rabbits have a sterile lower intestine up until they begin to eat solid food at the age of 3-4 weeks. It is during this time that their intestines are at their most susceptible: the children need their mother’s milk, which alters pH and provides essential antibodies that assist the baby gradually adjust to his changing intestinal environment, to safeguard them against recently presented microorganisms. Without mother’s milk, a baby beginning to eat solid food is highly susceptible to bacterial enteritis (swelling of the intestinal tract lining), which can cause fatal diarrhea. Runny stool in a baby bunny should be thought about a lethal emergency situation, and anybody seeing this should contact a rabbit-savvy vet instantly, and speak with the Emergency Treatment Protocol for Diarrhea in Infant and Juvenile Rabbits to be knowledgeable about questions to ask the vet.
- Intestial Parasites
As discussed previously, coccidial infection is common in some areas, and some veterinarians will just treat a baby rabbit’s diarrhea as coccidia, even without a fecal test. Typical antibiotics used to treat coccidia include Albon (sulfadimethoxine) and the potentiated sulfas, such as Trimethoprim Sulfa (TMZ) or Bactrim. Nevertheless, we have actually found a more just recently developed drug, ponazuril to be far superior to the previously mentioned sulfa antibiotics. It eliminates the parasites in a matter of days, instead of weeks.
Typical Causes of Runny Stool in Adult Rabbits
- Mechanical Problems
An overweight bunny might produce normally formed cecotropes, however due to the fact that she can not effectively reach down to grab them as they emerge from the chute, these soft pellets can becom squashed under the bunny as she flexes and flexes around to obtain them. Weight decrease is the response here, and this is as difficult for rabbits as it is for humans. Eliminating business pellets, or at least switching to a high-fiber, low-calorie timothy-based pellet can make an excellent difference. Change any starchy treats with fresh herb treats. And, painful as it might be, exercise is one of the best ways to burn more calories than bunny takes in. As all of us should know, that’s the bottom line when it comes to slimming down.
Arthritis or other Skeletal Disorders
Similarly, a rabbit who is experiencing degenerative joint issues in the spinal column, hips, or other areas, may not be able to reach cecotropes quickly. He ends up resting on a few of them, and squashing them into his fur. Arthritis can be dealt with by your veterinarian. Typical solutions include different NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs), and glucosamine supplements such as Cetyl-M or myristol.
- Dietary Problems
Rabbits, like horses and cattle, are stringent herbivores. The rabbit intestine — and its normal bacterial plants — has developed to feed nearly specifically on yard and herbs. Does your bunny get starchy treats such as oatmeal, crackers, bread or sugary foods? Some bunnies with really delicate intestinal tracts can experience runny cecotropes even from business pellets. Fruit, as healthy as it is for humans, can be too much of an excellent thing for rabbits. The high level of sugar and starch in table fruit makes them too rich for a bunny except as a really small, periodic treat. A diet too abundant in digestible starch is one of the most typical causes of runny cecotropes in buddy bunnies.
Insufficient Indigestible Fiber
A bunny should be fed endless turf hay, such as timothy, brome, wheat or oat. Alfalfa hay is too abundant in calories and protein for day-to-day feeding. A rabbit who can not nibble continuously on high-fiber lawn or hay may struggle with a lack of tonus in the gut muscles. Normal peristalsis (muscular movements that push food through the gut) may become slow. This causes the passage of food through the cecum to slow down, and the normal rate of bacterial “flushing” from the cecum is disrupted, promoting cecal dysbiosis. The high fiber content of turf hay also helps to “water down” the starch of other dietary items, and helps to offer a healthy intestinal environment. A complete and healthy diet is really crucial to preventing digestive problems such as cecal dysbiosis (and its associated mushy stool).
- Hidden Health Problems
When a rabbit is ill, in pain, or is struggling with emotional stress, a common physiological response is slowing of the normal peristaltic movements of the intestinal tract. This leads to cecal dysbiosis, with all the accompanying issues of runny stool, and possible swelling of the intestinal tract lining (enteritis).
A few of the most typical causes of intestinal tract slowdown (and for this reason, cecal dysbiosis) in rabbits consist of pain/stress due to
- Dental Problems
- Urinary tract disorders
- Upper respiratory infections
- “Head tilt”
Any of these conditions should be identified and dealt with by a rabbit-savvy veterinarian knowledgeable about such issues and their proper treatment. Up until a cryptic health disorder is detected and treated, chronic runny stool will likely continue. Therefore, it’s smart to have your messy-bottomed bunny go through a comprehensive wellness check, particularly if his diet and weight are normal and healthy.
Once an underlying source of pain/stress is treated, the runny stool often solves by itself. But if the condition is not treated, it can advance and eventually lead to a possibly deadly condition, ileus, or GI stasis, in which peristalsis stops entirely.
Keeping Bunny Comfortable meanwhile
While you and your veterinarian are dealing with the problems that triggered the runny stool, it’s still important to keep the bunny clean and comfy. Dried cecotropes stayed with the rear end are not only smelly and uncomfortable, they also bring in flies, and can lead to dangerous fly strike.
Handling runny stool in a bunny is not always a basic matter. It may need dietary modifications, good husbandry, and sometimes substantial diagnostic work and treatment by your vet. However it will all be worth it for a long life filled with delighted, nose-wiggling love and a great, clean bottom.
Also read: Why Rabbits Fighting