Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop? | Coprophagy in Animals

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop_

In this article, we are going to talk about something a bit different. In fact, the topic is the excrement of the guinea pigs – their poop!

Believe it or not, some animals consume their own poop, and you probably have no idea why. Well, we will try to clarify this for you and you will discover why do guinea pigs eat their poop.

Do guinea pigs eat their poop? Yes, guinea pigs do sometimes eat their own poop and this is called coprophagy. However, if you see your guinea pig doing this, don’t panic because it is normal and you shouldn’t even stop it. For us, this might be unthinkable, but for guinea pigs, their poop can improve the digestive process in their bodies and it is a normal guinea pig behavior.

Basically, the feces of guinea pigs are even beneficial for them to consume. It sounds illogical, right? Well, that’s the truth, your guinea pig can freely consume its own feces. Feces of guinea pigs are always different in color, consistency, shape, and it is very important to know how to use that information.

There are surely some detailed benefits of this whole process, otherwise, the guinea pigs wouldn’t do it. So, keep reading because we have covered all of the information in the following sections below. Let’s begin!


Guinea Pig Poop: Information and Facts

Guinea pigs have two types of feces. One of them is the hard, solid, almost black that you see around the cage. Then, the other type is the guinea pig cecotropes or the soft poop that kinda sticks together. This type is much brighter, almost yellowish.

Cecotropes are small, soft feces which guinea pigs produced in the night or early morning. They are also called ”night feces” or ”soft feces”.

Cecotropes are very important for guinea pig nutrition because they contain some essential nutrients and vitamins, like vitamin B and vitamin K.

The guinea pigs will eat cecotropes from 100 to 200 times a day and you will see these feces rarely because guinea pigs usually eat them directly from their bottoms (anus).

Also, guinea pigs can eat these feces from each other and young guinea pigs may also eat feces from their mothers.

We need to remember that cecotropes are very good for guinea pig’s health and that these feces can contain a lot of good bacteria that are beneficial for the guinea pig digestive system.


Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Poop

Benefits of Guinea Pigs Eating Poop

The soft stool is the one that guinea pigs consume and the one that you will almost never see in the cage. This stool is beneficial for them because it helps them digest foods better and absorb more nutrients from the foods they eat.

Their poop contains a lot of vitamin K and vitamin B-complex. Also, these feces provide them with some proteins too. In fact, their soft poop has a lot of protein and a lot of fiber, compared to the hard, dark feces!

The proteins offer energy for the organism and the fibers improve the digestion and contribute to healthy bowel movements.


• Poop of a Healthy Guinea Pig Can Help a Sick Guinea Pig

This will be weird advice, but it works. Some owners have consulted their vets, and the response was: give the cavy some poop of a healthy guinea pig. This is mixed with water and put into a syringe.

With this, you can feed the sick cavy between meals and you will be surprised how fast it gets the appetite back. Weird, but it works. Still, consult with your vet before you do this.

If I am not able to force-feed my guinea pig with this mix of poop and water, what can I do?

Don’t worry, the guinea pig will know what to do. Often, the guinea pigs can literally steal poop from other cavies and their bottoms. They go around the cage and sniff the other guinea pigs, and this means they can take care of themselves quite well.


Nutrition Facts of the Guinea Pig Poop

As we mentioned above, the poop of guinea pigs has proteins, vitamin K, and B-complex vitamins.

Vitamin K contributes to healthy bones, and it also regulates the calcium levels in the blood. This is especially important since calcium is the mineral that can damage the urinary system of guinea pigs, so regulating the calcium in the blood goes a long way in helping them.

The B-complex vitamins represent a group of all the B vitamins. The B vitamins are beneficial for all organs in the body. Also, the B vitamins break down the proteins and carbs that are consumed. With enough B vitamins, there is good digestion, healthy skin tissues, and healthy nerves too.


More Information About Guinea Pig Poop and Their Behaviour

Guinea Pig Poop and Their Behaviour

Is It Normal for a Guinea Pig to Eat Its Poop?

Yes, it is normal for a guinea pig to eat its own poop, they take care of this themselves and considering they know when they need to eat it and how much, there are almost no risks.

So, we can say that it is normal for a guinea pig to eat its poop. The guinea pigs are smart enough to know when their digestion needs improvement.

Why do guinea pigs eat their poop? The plant-based foods that guinea pigs eat are not always broken down at first. So, when they come out as poop, the guinea pigs ingest them again in order to get more nutrients from their food. This process helps their digestion a lot and it is similar to how the cows eat their own cud.


How Often Do Guinea Pigs Eat Poop?

Guinea pigs poop a lot because they are constantly eating. Also, guinea pigs eat their own poop very often and it can sometimes be around 100 to 200 times per day.

You will very often see your guinea pigs with their heads turned towards the back end. In most cases that will mean that your guinea pig is eating its poop.

Guinea pig’s digestive system is very fast and they sometimes won’t absorb all the nutrients from the first consumption so they solve that by eating their poop.

If your guinea pig eats its poop very often, you won’t need to clean the cage very often.


Do All Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop?

In general, most rodents eat their own poop, so in fact, we can say that all guinea pigs will eat their feces. As we’ve said, it is totally normal if you see a guinea pig eating poop.

Also, it is not normal if your guinea pig never eats his poop. This can cause some health problems in guinea pigs and they will become malnourished very quickly.

Usually, if one of your guinea pigs is sick, you can give him some poop from another guinea pig but the other one must be healthy. It will help your sick guinea pig to get some of the good bacteria and to get well soon.


Can I Recognize If My Guinea Pig Is Malnourished by Looking at Its Poop?

Yes. the guinea pig feces that are bright-color and discolored at the same time are the sign of a malnourished guinea pig. If the poop is quite dark, this means the cavy is healthy.

Of course, this goes for the feces that are scattered around the cage and not for the ones that they consume.


Is Guinea Pig Poop Toxic to Dogs?

Is Guinea Pig Poop Toxic to Dogs

Guinea pigs poop isn’t toxic to dogs, because guinea pigs eat healthy and vegan foods. This means that it is pretty safe for dogs to eat them.

If your dog eats guinea pigs poop, it will not harm the dog’s health and in many cases, it will provide some vitamins to the dog.

Some dog owners said that their dog eats guinea pigs poop all the time. However, I would suggest not to allow them to eat it very often because they might get addicted. Especially if a guinea pig is sick, some problems may arise.


Why Does My Guinea Pig Poop so Much?

As we’ve already said, it is normal for guinea pigs to poop a lot. Their digestive system is very fast, and they will poop as much as they eat. Pooping a lot is an indicator that your guinea pig is healthy.

If your guinea pig is pooping less or not pooping at all, it can be the sign that something is going wrong. Then you need to find the reasons for that problem or change the guinea pig diet. Also, the low amounts of guinea pig pooping can be caused by some dental problems or infections. 

Also, guinea pig pooping can be a problem for you because you will need to clean their cages very often. Guinea pigs can poop everywhere in the cage, but the good thing is that you can train your guinea pig to use the litter box

In this article, we’ve explained how you can litter train your little pet: Can Guinea Pigs Be Litter Trained?


Fun Facts About Poop

Fun Facts About Poop
  • Did you know that in 2015, someone had a toxic poop-session on British Airway, from Heathrow to Dubai? The plane had to turn around and land after just half an hour.
  • The fastest living organism in the world is a fungus that is found in horse manure.
  • There is a bowel disease that causes chronic diarrhea, CDI. the cure for it is fecal transplant (when poop of a healthy person is put in the bum of the sick person).
  • There was an event in London called ‘the great stink’. It happened in 1858 when the smell of human waste halted the Parliament. The smell came from the River Thames.
  • The animal sloth poops once a week and this is called ‘the poo dance’.
  • The Parrotfish consumed dead coral, and as a result, it poops sand.
  • Poop is mostly bacteria, as opposed to the common belief of being old food only.

Summary

It is certainly a relief knowing that guinea pigs can eat their poop with any health problems what so ever. This behavior is really weird for us but in the animal world coprophagia quite normal and it happens in a lot of different animals.

Remember guinea pigs were once wild animals and after the domestication, they have altered some of their behaviors but most of it is kept, including coprophagy. Do not prevent your guinea pig from doing this completely normal and beneficial behavior for them.

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their - Poop Coprophagy in Animals_1

Before I let you go, one final thought on food. With food, you can’t ever be too careful which is why I get all guinea pig food from a reliable source such as Amazon. If you are not sure what to order but believe your little piggies deserve some great treats please check our Helpful Guide to the Best Guinea Pig Treats to get some ideas.

We have also made a full list of foods that guinea pigs can and can’t eat (150+ Types of Foods). Be sure to also check our recommended products page for everything you will ever need to assure a happy life for your guinea pigs. Hope this information was helpful and you have found the answer you were looking for.

If you found this post useful, would you mind helping out by sharing it? Just click one of the handy social media sharing buttons below so others can also learn about guinea pig food and diet!


Related: What Can Guinea Pigs Eat and Not Eat List – Owner’s Guide


List of Sources

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Ebino, K. Y., Studies on coprophagy in experimental animals, Jikken dobutsu. Experimental animals, 1993.

Franz, R., Kreuzer, M., Hummel, J., Hatt, J. M., Clauss, M., Intake, selection, digesta retention, digestion and gut fill of two coprophageous species, rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus), on a hay-only diet, Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition, 2011.

Sharkey, M. J., Some aspects of coprophagy in rabbits and guinea pigs fed fresh lucerne, Mammalia, 2009.

Linss, W., An easily manufactured cage for the keeping of small rodents and for the prevention coprophagy, Zeitschrift für medizinische Labortechnik, 1971.

Hirakawa, H., Supplement: coprophagy in leporids and other mammalian herbivores, Wiley Online Library, 2002.

Sakaguchi, E., Itoh, H., Uchida, S., Horigome, T., Comparison of fibre digestion and digesta retention time between rabbits, guinea-pigs, rats and hamsters, The British journal of nutrition, 1987.

Sakaguchi, E., Nabata, A., Comparison of fibre digestion and digesta retention time between nutrias (Myocaster coypus) and guinea-pigs (Cavia porcellus), Comparative biochemistry and physiology. Comparative physiology, 1992.

McMurray, D. N., Yetley, E. A., Immune responses in malnourished guinea pigs, The Journal of nutrition, 1982.

Norman, R., Wills, A. P., An Investigation into the Relationship between Owner Knowledge, Diet, and Dental Disease in Guinea Pigs (Cavia porcellus), Animals: an open access journal from MDPI, 2016.

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Clarissa Moolbrock

Clarissa Moolbrock is one of the founders and editor at Guinea Pig Tube. She is also an author of "Complete Guinea Pig Care Guide: The Essential, Practical Guide To All Aspects of Caring for Your Guinea Pigs" (available on Amazon). Being a veterinary technician helping animals and sharing her experience and knowledge with other guinea pig owners is her passion. Her life goal is to popularise guinea pigs as pets and that is why she has started Guinea Pig Tube website.