The rabbit you see every day in your yard munching on grass and leaves has a disgusting secret. It eats its own poop.
That’s right. Rabbits eat their own poop every day. In fact, they have to eat it; it’s necessary for them to survive.
Rabbits have a high rate of metabolism and digest their food very quickly. They aren’t able to get all the nutrients from their food the first time they eat it, so they pass it as excrement, or poop.
These pellets of poop are called cecotropes. They are soft and black and contain a lot of nutritional benefits, so the rabbits eat them as a regular part of their diet.
These soft pellets are one of two types of rabbit poop, but they are the only kind they eat. The other pellets are passed through after the rabbits eat the cecotropes. They are usually round and hard, and you might see small piles on them in your yard or at a park.
Rabbits aren’t the only animal that eats its own poop. It’s common enough that there is a word for it: coprophagy. Chimpanzees and other primates sometimes eat feces for the same reason as rabbits. They can get more nutrition from the undigested food in their poop. Although some primates do eat excrement, it’s not a regular part of their diet, like rabbits.
A common insect called a dung beetle also relies on poop for its diet. Unlike rabbits, though, dung beetles eat the feces of other animals, not their own.