Animals that Eat Poop

By Amy Lyden

 Poop is actually quite nutritious. Though eating your feces is a stigma in human society, many animal species are not so discriminating. Animals belonging to this group include naked mole rats, isopods, rabbits, and dogs.

What is so advantageous about coprography, the practice of eating your own poop?  For naked mole rats, eating their feces helps them digest more nutrients from the tough roots and tubers that they consume. They are able to get twice the nutrients from the same amount of food. Other rodents exercise coprography for similar reasons.
Another reason is mineral recycling; Isopods lose some of the essential element copper every time they poop. By eating it, they are able to recycle it back into their system.
Finally, some animals eat their own poop due to the existence of bacteria. Even your pet dog will eat his own poop. The microorganisms in his intestinal tract create vitamins when they digest the food, which your dog can acquire only by consuming his feces. Its poop is an excellent source of protein. The dog may also eat its poop to recycle nutrients and minimize loss of vitamins when it has a nutrient-leeching parasite or viral infection.

Our own poop is 75% water. The remaining 25% is 1/3 indigestible fibers, 1/3 dead bacteria and 1/3 fats, dead cells, live bacteria, inorganic salts and mucus. Though nothing in there seems particularly appetizing to humans, many animals have instincts that compel them to eat feces because of the additional nutrients it can provide.

Consuming feces is not as gross and uncommon as it may seem, though perhaps not advisable for humans in light of cultural perceptions.

Works Cited

“Coprophagia (Eating Feces).” Virtual Pet Behaviorist. ASPCA. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/31/Coprophagia-Eating-Feces.aspx>.

 

“Naked Mole-rat.” Animal Bytes. San Diego Zoo. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-naked_mole-rat.html>.

 

“Why Do Animals Eat Their Own Poop?” Zidbits. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. <http://zidbits.com/2011/06/why-do-animals-eat-their-own-poop/>. 

 

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