Guess what I just learned about rabbits’ digestive and excretory systems today?
Rabbits have digestive systems built to cope with the rigors of their herbivorous diet. They have an extra-large caecum and very specialized shit. The caecum is a pouch connected to the ascending colon of the large intestine. In carnivores and ominovres [like Homo sapiens], the caecum is small in size and often replaced by an appendix. In herbivores, however, the caecum is frequently large and populated by bacteria that help the animal draw nutrients out from its food. Anyway, the caecum in rabbits helps them to separate the nutrients from the cellulose.
Rabbits do not need the cellulose, so they crap it out in hard waste pellets. They do, however, need the condensed nutrients that the caecum has separated out from the actual waste. So they have another form of shit in which they expel these nutrients in soft, partially digested form. Then they eat it, usually when they are hidden in their burrows during the day. This time, they can gain access to the nutrients.
I thought only certain types of bugs were coprophages. I was wrong. Pigs, hamsters and gorillas also eat shit, but obviously the gorilla has a different type of digestive system than the rabbit. Interestingly enough, the young of certain animals, such as hippos, elephants, pandas and koalas, eat their mom’s shit to bring necessary digestive enzymes into their sterile digestive systems.
I’m having a very hard time seeing coprophagia as anything less than unsanitary, unhealthy and distasteful, even though it’s obviously a highly beneficial adaptation for some species mentioned above.
Coprophagia: the usually unconsidered biological implication of a rabbit therianthrope. Create transgenic humans [or rabbits] with care.
Disclaimer: Before anyone tells me, “Well, duhhhh, haven’t you ever seen a pet rabbit eat shit?” let me remind you that I never grew up with animals, except for some extremely dull fish, and, aside from having a cat for a few years recently, I have no experience with domesticated animals.