Have you ever noticed your guinea pig dipping his head down and eating his own poop? If yes, then you need not worry or stop your guinea pig from doing this because it is a normal and essential part of their digestive process. This process is called “Coprophagy or coprophagia”.
When cavies used to live in the wild they developed a habit of consuming their poop due to less quantity of food. They did this to absorb leftover nutrients from their “Caecal poop”.
Why do Guinea Pigs eat their own poop?
To understand this, you need to know that Guinea pigs/Cavies excrete two kinds of poops –
- One is the poo that we all know, dark brown solid ones and have seen around their cage.
- The other ones are soft and squishy called cecotropes.
Guinea pigs or other small animals can’t chew their food enough to properly digest it in one go. Their digestive system cannot extract all vitamins from the food straight away so they need another round to do so.
Check out: GUINEA PIGS DIET – WHAT AND HOW MUCH TO FEED?
Nutrition Value of the Guinea Pig Poop
You won’t see them usually because they eat it as soon as they realize it’s about to pop out. Cecotropes contains vitamins such as K and B complex and protein that help guinea pigs digest B vitamins.
But, if you notice your guinea pig does not eat their Cecotropes, then it is not a good sign and they will become malnourished quickly.
When guinea pigs are sick, they have been known to steal caecals straight from other pig’s bottoms. So they understand the importance of eating poops for a healthy living.
What other animals practice Coprophagia?
Just like cavies, other rodents (mice, rats, hamsters, naked mole rats, and chinchillas), Lagomorphs (hares, pikas, and rabbits), dogs, baby elephants, hippopotamus calves, mountain beavers, gorillas, and rhesus monkeys, according to a review published in the journal The Cornell Vegetarian.
What to do if your Guinea Pig is not eating Caecotrophs?
Guinea pig when get older, especially males (boars) but very rarely in females (sows), lose the muscle tone from where they poop (anus region). This condition can sometimes lead to impacted bottoms, due to which their poop or the Caecotrophs won’t come out.
In this case either you can go to the vet or you can ease the lump of excreta out by yourself. Your Guinea pig might try to eat the lump so don’t try to stop the piggy.
Still, if you feel something is wrong, call the vet, Please!
Some important things to watch out for:
- Look at its poop to recognize if your piggy is healthy or malnourished: You can easily recognize that your piggy is malnourished just by looking at its poop. If the feces are bright or discoloured at the same time, then it is a sign that your piggy is malnourished. If the poop is dark in colour, this means your piggy is healthy and doing just fine
- If your piggy is sick or has no appetite: Then you can try this technique which vet will also advise. Give your cavy some poop of a healthy guinea pig. Just put it into a syringe, add some water and feed this to your piggy between meals.
- If you cannot feed your piggy this mix of poop: Then don’t worry. Guinea pigs are quite smart. They know how to steal poop of a healthy guinea pig straight from their bottoms. They know the importance of poop so they can take care of themselves pretty well.
Q. Is guinea pig poop toxic to humans?
A. If your rodent pet is infected, then their urine, feces, or saliva can transmit a rare viral disease into humans called Lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCM). Rodents with infection may appear normal but later on, they can show severe signs like hunched posture, weight loss, and ultimately die.
If humans are infected they generally show symptoms like nausea, fever, headache, loss of appetite, muscle ache, and vomiting and often occur after 1-2 weeks of exposure.
Q. Do guinea pigs poop where they eat?
A. Guinea pigs literally poop whenever they feel like it so it is not necessary for them to poop exactly where they eat. However, you may notice that whenever you will clean their cage they will poop instantly on it. They are grazing animals so its natural for them to eat and poop all day.
Q. What should guinea pig poop look like?
A. Guinea pig poop should be medium to dark brown in color with oval-shaped and uniform consistency. If it is soft, smelly, or light in color then it probably the sign of malnourishment or diet issues.
Q. Do guinea pigs eat their own babies?
A. In wildlife, it is quite natural for animals to eat their own babies. Similarly in guinea pig’s case, it is true that cavies eat their own babies but it is a very rare scenario where it will be a pure necessity. Mother guinea will only eat their babies when they are seriously malnourished.
It is perfectly safe and healthy for guinea pigs to eat their own poop. if your cavy is not eating his or her caecals then they will get unhealthy pretty quickly, so its an essential routine for them.
Now, before you go, I would like to remind you that don’t forget to give good quality of food and a healthy diet for your guinea pigs. Always choose guinea pig food from reliable sources and make sure your piggy is happy. I hope you find this info useful. If yes, please help out by sharing this.
Very good information, I appreciate that.The information on diet and weight management is very helpful. Great article
Arielle Williams says
Thanks Carol! I am happy that you found this article helpful.