Rabbit poop

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(Redirected from Diarrhea)

Rabbit owners will generally become very familiar with rabbit poop and droppings in their course of bunny ownership. All rabbits form two types of droppings: round dry fecal pellets (referred to in this article) and wet smelly cecotropes that are usually unseen by owners as rabbits normally eat them directly as they are produced.

Changes in poop

Generally, large golden poops are a great sign of fiber health in rabbits, but a slight variation in darker size is also normal depending on the protein content in the diet. Rabbits will generally make larger golden poops on a primary hay like oat or timothy but smaller darker poops on a slightly higher protein hay like orchard grass. Both are normal, and there is no need to restrict pellets or vegetables in the diet in an attempt to chase the ideal poop color and size.

A mix of fecal pellets from rabbits that were fed a combination of orchard grass and oat hay.

It is important that your rabbit does not end up underweight and malnourished from too much fiber in the diet over a long period of time.

If you see small poops and uneaten cecals or some mucus on the floor, please observe your rabbit for any changes in behavior and make sure that the negative changes are just one-offs. If they occur more often, please see your veterinarian for a checkup as it can be an early sign of more serious health issues.

Problems with poop

LagoLearn's ID chart.
Top to bottom: "...the small unhealthy droppings of a rabbit fed on rich food, then as it is given lots of hay the droppings slowly become larger and healthier..." - © Celia Haddon, used with direct permission. CatExpert.co.uk

Analyzing your rabbit's fecal pellets is a good way of diagnosing whether all is right with your rabbit's health. If they are repeatedly malformed or abnormal, it is usually indicative of some health problem that needs immediate attention.

In this video Dr. Mary E. Cotter covers "Is Your Rabbit's Pee & Poop Normal?"
"The Scoop On Poop" by the San Diego HRS chapter.
Different poops types of relatively normal poop.
Linked poops due to ingested hair. This type of poop occurs most often during molting season and is a sign that rabbits should be brushed more often to prevent too much ingestion of their own fur.
Differential diagnosis of poop issues in rabbits
Syndrome Incidence in pet rabbits Hard feces Cecals Condition of rabbit Causes
Uneaten normal cecals Common Copious quantities Normal consistency Good appetite
Uneaten soft cecals Common Copious quantities Soft, liquid consistency Well
  • Change of diet
  • Lack of dietary fiber
  • Succulent foods
  • Stress
  • Same causes as uneaten normal cecals
  • Rare in adults
  • Common in juveniles
Diarrhea can range from haemorrhagic liquid feces to bulky soft feces Indistinguishable from hard feces Depends on severity of condition Eimeria spp.
Mucoid enteropathy
  • Rare in adults
  • Associated with stress
  • Sporadic outbreaks in juveniles
  • Normal hard feces are absent
  • Mixed or interspersed mucus and diarrhea
  • No fecal output in later stages
Abnormal soft cecals may be intermittently interspersed with mucus and diarrhea
  • May be eating in early stages
  • Bloated appearance
  • Progresses to inappetence and tooth grinding
  • Still unclear
  • Dysautonomia has been found in some cases
Cecal impaction Sporadic incidence
  • Absence of hard feces
  • Can produce mucus, which owners mistake for diarrhea
None in later stages May pick at food in early stages
  • Appears to be associated with pain or stress.
  • Cecal impaction is also part of mucoid enteropathy complex.
  • Can be caused by ingestion of materials that are moved into the cecum, absorb water, and are not broken down by cecal microflora. Examples include clay litter, methylcellulose, or other bulk laxatives.
  • Rare in adults
  • Enteritis caused by bacterial overgrowth/ imbalances is more common in the suckling or growing rabbit.
  • Normal hard feces are absent.
  • Liquid diarrhea
Not seen
  • Sporatic cases in adult rabbits
  • More common in juveniles
  • Liquid feces that may be tarry
  • Rabbit may die before diarrhea develops
Not seen
  • Unwell
  • Rapidly progressive
  • May be collapsed
  • Clostridium spp.
  • Can be induced by antibiotics
Chronic inflammatory disease Rare and only in adults Large amounts of bulky soft feces Indistinguishable from hard feces
  • Thin, bloated
  • Periods of ravenous appetite interspersed with periods of anorexia
  • Not known
  • May be immune mediated
  • Sometimes associated with adhesions post-spay
From Varga, M. (2013). Textbook of rabbit medicine. (2nd ed.).

Poopy butt

Poopy butt is the informal term of what happens when rabbits get runny stool or are unable to reach and clean their back end. It can also be referred to as intermittent soft stools, ISS, or sticky bottom syndrome. See Cecotropes for more information, as poopy butt is often caused by unformed cecals.

To clean a poopy butt, please see the Bathing article. It is important to keep the perineal area clean as the anus can be blocked by dried cecals.[1] It is also especially important in warmer months as dirty bottoms can increase the likelihood of flystrike.

Below are links with more information about poopy butt in rabbits.


True diarrhea or diarrhoea is a medical emergency and is diagnosed when there are absolutely no normal stools produced -- neither hard feces nor cecotrophs. The diarrhea may appear watery or contain blood or mucous. A rabbit with true diarrhea should be taken to a rabbit-savvy veterinarian immediately.

The primary prevention of diarrhea is by properly introducing changes in diet slowly and providing diets that are adequate in both indigestible and soluble fiber.[1]

Young rabbits are at most at risk of contracting diarrhea due to changes in both digestive tracts and diet after weaning.

Common diarrheal diseases of rabbits include coccidiosis, colibacillosis, and enterotoxemia.

In rare cases, chronic diarrhea can be caused by genetic issues such as megacolon and dietary intolerance to food, including gluten.

The following links have more information on diarrhea.

Some experiences with chronic diarrhea:

Eating fecal pellets

See the links below for more information on rabbits eating their dry fecal pellets (not their cecals).

Composting rabbit waste

Your rabbit is pooping a gold mine! Poster source, Special Bunny

Rabbit litter is a great fertilizer for your garden. The manure contains higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorous compared to steer, sheep, chicken, and horse manures. Rabbit droppings can be added directly to the soil without burning by sprinkling it on top or scratching it into the dirt. You can also make manure tea for garden plants by adding a quart of water to about a cup of droppings in a bucket and letting it steep for a few days.[2]:155

If you use a rabbit-safe litter, you can compost all the hay, fur, wooden toys, urine, droppings, and litter together.

Below are links with more information about composting your rabbit litter for use in your garden.

The following information are from rabbit breeder websites. Please remember that we do not condone rabbit breeding for the common house rabbit owner and that these links are purely for reference information.

Further reading

See also