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.
Problems with poop
Analyzing your rabbit's fecal pellets is a good way of diagnosing whether all is right with your rabbit's health. If they are ever malformed, it is usually indicative of some health problem that needs immediate attention.
|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||
||Diarrhea can range from haemorrhagic liquid feces to bulky soft feces||Indistinguishable from hard feces||Depends on severity of condition||Eimeria spp.|
||Abnormal soft cecals may be intermittently interspersed with mucus and diarrhea||
|Cecal impaction||Sporadic incidence||
||None in later stages||May pick at food in early stages||
|Chronic inflammatory disease||Rare and only in adults||Large amounts of bulky soft feces||Indistinguishable from hard feces||
|From Varga, M. (2013). Textbook of rabbit medicine. (2nd ed.).|
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. 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.
- Krempels, D. The Mystery of Rabbit Poop
- Rabbit Welfare Association & Fund. (2001). Sticky bottom problems (aka "Sticky bum syndrome").
- Pollock, A. (2007). Causes and Treatment for Diarrhea in Rabbits
- Vetstream. Sticky bottom syndrome
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.
Young rabbits are at most at risk of contracting diarrhea due to changes in both digestive tracts and diet after weaning.
The following links have more information on diarrhea.
- Dana Krempels, Ph.D., Emergency protocol for diarrhea in infant and juvenile rabbits, cottontails and hares
Eating fecal pellets
See the links below for more information on rabbits eating their dry fecal pellets (not their cecals).
Composting rabbit waste
Rabbit litter is a great fertilizer for your garden.
Below are links with more information about composting your rabbit litter for use in your garden.
- House Rabbit Network, Christine Bennett, The Magic Bunny Poo: A Composting Tale
- Vegetable Gardener, Chris McLaughlin, Rabbit Manure in the Garden
- Calico Rabbit, Composting with rabbits!
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.
- Three Little Ladies Rabbitry, Natural Fertilizer, Courtesy of Your Rabbits
- Rise and Shine Rabbitry, The Benefits and Uses of Rabbit Manure
- Kazuko "Kay" Smith, Raising Worms With Rabbits
- Kinenchen, Bunny Poops
- Save a Fluff, Why keeping an eye on your rabbit's poo is important!
- bunnymama.com, Rabbit Poop 101
- The Straight Dope, Why do some animals have pellet poop?
- Moore, L. (2013). Rabbit nutrition and nutritional healing. (2nd ed.).