Why Guinea Pigs Eat Poop: Reasons, Problems & Solutions

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There are two types of guinea pig poop. There are the solid, darker poops that we see around the cage. Then there are cecal or cecotrope poops. These are squishier, smellier, and often have a greenish color.

You’ll often see your guinea pigs eating the cecal poop; they do so in an attempt to redigest and get more vitamins and nutrients into their system. Cecal poop contains vitamin K, vitamin B, protein, and lots of friendly bacteria that helps restore their digestive system’s PH balance.

Interesting? Well, there’s a lot more to know about the subject!

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Poop

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Poop

Guinea pigs, like lots of other herbivores, need to digest their food twice to benefit from all of the great nutrients.

Many large herbivores send the food down to the stomach, take the first lot of nutrients in, then regurgitate, chew and swallow again, some even have multiple stomachs to process the food multiple times.

Guinea pigs, however, only have one stomach and lack the muscles to push the food back up. So instead, they poop as usual then eat it. This process is called cecotrophy or hindgut fermentation.

The green cecal comes out mushy and green and has a much stronger smell because it still contains many of the vitamins that it did when they ate it the first time, so it comes out as a grass-like substance.

The solid, brown poops that we see scattered around are the end result of digestion. They’re solid because all of the useful stuff in there has been drawn out by your guinea pig, so there’s no benefit in them eating it again. These have usually been through their system a few times already.

How To Spot Them Eating Poop?

Usually, your guinea pig will duck their heads between their hind legs. It looks like they’re washing, but both hind legs are still on the floor, while when washing, they usually lift one of their legs to wash their feet.

If they’re eating poop, they will typically emerge from this position noticeably chewing. It seems gross, but it’s necessary.

How Often Should They Eat Poop?

Most guinea pigs will eat all of their cecal poop because it benefits their health. This is why you’ll rarely see it left around the cage. 

Since they’re grazers, spending the short time that they’re awake continually eating, you will mostly see them do this all the time. Perhaps even up to 150 times a day.

It’s a constant cycle of ‘in one end and out of the other, and then in again’.

Should You Stop them?

No, eating cecal poop is an entirely normal and natural behavior. It helps them stay healthy by drawing all of the undigested nutrients out of their food.

Stopping them from doing this can actually cause health problems further down the line, as they won’t be getting the vitamins they need.

What Does It Mean If Your Guinea Pig Is Stealing Poop?

Why Do Guinea Pigs Eat Their Poop

Guinea pigs normally live in groups in the wild and get depressed if they live alone. For this reason, you should always have more than one guinea pig. However, this can sometimes cause problems. 

Occasionally, you might notice that one guinea pig is stealing poop from another. 

When that happens, it could mean that they sense that something is wrong with their own digestion. If they feel a little under the weather, they will always do whatever they can to get the most nutrients possible, even if it means getting them from someone else.

If you notice this is happening regularly, you should take the poop-stealing guinea pig to the vet. There’s likely an underlying issue, and if you allow the behavior to continue, it could even affect your healthy guinea pig, as there aren’t enough vitamins for both of them.

Signs That There Is A Problem

Signs That There Is A Problem With Guinea Pig Poop

There are a few obvious indicators that something is wrong when it comes to guinea pig poop. 

  • If your guinea pig is trying to eat another’s cecal, it usually means that there’s something wrong with their own digestive system.
  • If you notice a lot of squishy, smelly poop around the cage, it could mean that your guinea pig has stopped eating it. This can quickly lead to malnourishment. 
  • Male guinea pigs, in particular, can lose the elasticity in their anus as they get older. This means that they can’t squeeze poop into the neat tablet shapes. Instead, it’ll build up in the anus, meaning they can’t eat it. You’ll be able to see the mass build up.

Solutions To The Different Problems

guinea pig not eating feces
  1. When your guinea pig isn’t eating poop, they’re losing valuable vitamins every day, so you need to work to replace them. If they’re still drinking normally, purchase some water-soluble vitamins to boost their intake or give them toasted wheat germ alongside their everyday food.
  1. If your male guinea pig has impacted poop, it shouldn’t hurt them, but it will be uncomfortable and cause a nutrient-deficiency over time. Gently tease out the mass (or give them a bath) then allow them to eat it. Unfortunately, if your piggy is old, this issue is likely to recur and can’t be treated, so you’ll have to check this daily.
  1. If your guinea pig isn’t getting the nutrients they need, you might have to force-feed to try to get the system flowing again. To do this:
    1. Take the cecal matter from the floor of the cage and mix it with warm water. 
    2. You end up with a thin paste that you can suck up into a syringe. 
    3. Sit behind your piggy, so their bum is between your knees.
    4. Put your thumb and forefinger on either side of their mouth and gently get them to open wide. 
    5. Syringe little bits at a time into their open mouth, letting them close it intermittently to swallow. 
  1. If none of these solutions work and the problem continues over a few days, take them to the vet.
  1. Avoid antibiotics. They remove all the bacteria from your guinea pig’s system, including the good bacteria. Antibiotics can actually make a digestive problem worse if they aren’t eating their cecal.

Summary

Guinea pigs eating poop is entirely normal. In fact, it’s when you notice that they aren’t doing this that you should start to worry. Never try to prevent them from eating their poop, no matter how gross it seems. It’s what keeps them happy and healthy.

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