Photo: Markrosenrosen, CC BY-SA 3.0
Dining on poop is a common animal behaviour!
Rabbits are one of the species in this ‘dung-eating diner club’ but only eat one of the two types of their droppings. Rabbits have two types of poop which are little black round ones and softer black ones and it’s those soft ones they eat. So they even have the intelligence to choose which poop to eat! Rabbits don’t break down everything the first time, so they send it back through their gut and digest it a second time. And mother rabbits actually feed their faeces to their babies as it helps to colonise their digestive tract with healthy gut bacteria!
Other poop eating species do it for similar reasons because there is still nutrient-rich partially digested food in it.
Chimpanzees and capybaras do it and guinea pigs can reuse their poop up to 50 times per hour! Baby elephants and hippos do it to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation. And of course, dung beetles survive on dung from other species!
Horses are another example of an animal that engages in coprophagy (the scientific term for what we humans think as gross), particularly when they are fed a high-fibre diet. In some cases, they may eat their own faeces as a way of extracting additional nutrients from their food.
Cassowaries have been seen finishing their meal of fruit, pooping, then turning around and start digging through the excrement pulling out partially digested chunks of fruit from the pile and start to eat it all over again.
Poop eating is also a cat behaviour particularly if they are kept in close quarters or have limited access to a litter box. They may also eat the faeces of their kittens as a way of keeping their nest clean and free of odours.
And dogs do it too. They could be lacking something in their diet, a medical cause, or just seeking attention from you as they know when you see them do it, you will respond!