Because rabbits eat a lot of fiber, they need to eat cecotropes, which are another type of dropping that they need to eat again. It’s most likely that rabbits will eat these droppings right out of their anus. There may be times when you see a group of cecotropes that your rabbit didn’t eat, but this shouldn’t happen very often.
Once in a while, seeing whole or squished and misshapen cecotropes in your rabbit’s litter box could be a sign that something is wrong. The rabbit doesn’t normally eat the cecotropes because their gut health is off, making them make too many. If your rabbit is making too many cecotropes, it won’t feel the need to eat them all, so you’ll find them in the litter box or all over the room.
If you find that your rabbit is making too many cecotropes, you should talk to your vet about it. Some usual reasons for too much cecotrope production are talked about in this article, but I can’t say for sure what is wrong with your rabbit.
1. Way too many sweets
Most of the time, diet is to blame for making too many cecotropes. Too many sweet treats for a rabbit as a pet are one of the main causes. Too many germs grow in a rabbit’s gut when it eats foods that are high in sugar, throwing the gut out of balance. Because of this, the rabbit will make too many cecotropes. Since most rabbits will only eat as many cecotropes as they need, the extra bunches will end up in the litter box or all over the room.
Many bright store-bought treats, especially yogurt treats, are high in sugar and are good for rabbits. But it also has things that we normally think of as good for people. Rabbits should only get small amounts of sweet fruits and veggies. Fresh and dried carrots, apples, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, and just about any other fruit or sweet veggie you can think of are all in this group. If you find that your rabbit is making too many cecotropes, the first thing you should do is stop giving it these sweet treats.
Cecotropes that are soft and don’t work right can also be caused by eating too many sweets. This is called cecal dysbiosis. It may look like diarrhea, but it’s not because the cecotropes are soft and not the “cocoa puff” feces, which are hard. Poopy butt is the name for when these soft cecotropes get stuck in the fur around the rabbit’s bottom and make a ball of poop.
2. A quick shift in what you eat
The gastric system of a rabbit is very sensitive. There can be too many cecotropes in the gut if there is too much change at once, even if it is a good change. That could be the reason if you recently changed the type of food you give your rabbit or started giving them more leafy greens than they used to.
If you want to change your rabbit’s food, you should do it slowly. So, if you want to switch brands of pellets, you should mix the two types together for one to two weeks first. You should slowly give them more of the new brand of food until they are only eating that.
Like that, if you want to give your rabbit more fresh greens, you should start by giving it a little more every day. When you give your rabbit a new kind of green, do the same thing. Say, on the first day you give them cilantro, only give them one or two leaves. The next day, give them a little more, and so on.
Keep an eye on your rabbit’s droppings during this time to make sure they’re handling the change well. It’s fine if you see extra cecotropes for one or two days and then the dropping goes back to normal. But if your rabbit keeps getting too many cecotropes, especially if they are soft, you should either lower the amount of food it eats and go more slowly, or you should talk to your vet for more specific advice.
3. Your bunny can’t get there
Rabbits that have trouble moving around will sometimes have extra cecotropes lying around. Rabbits that are old, lame, or overweight may have trouble getting to their bottom to eat their cecotropes. Rats and rabbits usually eat this kind of waste right from their anus. This means the rabbit won’t be able to eat the cecotropes until they are in the litter box (or somewhere else). It’s pretty usual for rabbits to miss the cecotrope cluster when this happens, so they don’t snack on it.
This time, making too many cecotropes might not be the issue. Rabbits that are getting old may have gotten arthritis and need painkillers from your vet to help them move around. In the same way, disabled bunnies will need help getting to their behind. To make sure your rabbit gets all the nutrients it needs, you might need to get their cecotropes and feed them to them.
One thing that is likely happening is that obese rabbits are making too many cecotropes and can’t get to them. It’s also more likely that their cecotropes will get soft and start to form a ball around their bottom, which will need to be cleaned in a butt bath. It’s likely that the problems with too many cecotropes and cecal dysbiosis will not go away until you help your rabbit lose weight (read more on how to help a pet rabbit lose weight).
4. Your rabbit doesn’t feel good.
This is another reason why you might find extra cecotropes: if your rabbit is sick. When a rabbit is sick, they often lose their appetite. In other words, they won’t be eating their cecotropes and will also be less hungry for their other things. If your rabbit hasn’t eaten in more than 10 to 12 hours, you should take it to the vet right away.
When rabbits are very stressed or nervous, they may not only feel sick, but they may also lose their appetite. Rabbits also often have trouble with their teeth. This might make it hard for rabbits to eat properly, which means cecotropes will also go to waste.
You might also find extra cecotropes if your rabbit is getting better after being sick. As a side effect, some rabbits may briefly make more cecotropes when they are taking certain medicines. This should go away on its own in one to two days, but you should always talk to your vet if you see that your rabbit has a lot of extra cecotropes while they’re getting better.
5. There’s not enough hay
In the last but not least, your rabbit may have too many cecotropes because their food isn’t balanced. If rabbits eat too many pellets or fresh greens and not enough hay, this will happen.
Hay (especially timothy hay) should be the main thing a rabbit eats. The high fiber intake keeps their digestive system working well and the bacteria in their gut in balance. They only need about ¼ cup of pellets and one to two handfuls of fresh veggies a day for the most part. Most of what the rabbit eats will be the healthy, high-fiber hay this way.