One of the big questions from chinchilla owners is if their cute little pet actually eats its own poop?
This is something that many owners are curious to find out as it seems totally unrealistic that this could be true.
In this post, we will take a deeper look and find out if chinchillas actually do eat their own poop and we have even added a video that you might want to take a look at!
So, do Chinchillas Eat Their Own Poop? Chinchillas do eat their own poop. This activity is known as ‘Coprophagy’ and is completely normal behaviour. One of the key reasons Chinchillas choose to eat their cecotropes faeces is to consume the nutrients that it holds.
Read On to Learn…
Do Chinchillas Eat Their Own Poop? (More Info)
As a Chinchilla owner, there is no doubt that you will have seen your Chin eating their own poop at some time or another.
This isn’t something you should worry about and is completely natural behaviour for our furry friends.
It may seem bizarre to you, but there is a very good reason why they choose to carry out this behaviour which we will go into more detail later.
You may have noticed your Chinchilla eating poop directly from their hand, however, the most common way is for your Chin to eat the poop directly from their anus.
At times you may notice your Chinchilla completely bending forward towards their nether regions and then suddenly appearing having a good old chew.
If you didn’t know what they were doing… well, now you know!
If you would like further clarification and your curiosity is getting the better of you, check out this video below…
Generally, you will find that your Chinchilla will rather eat their poop directly from their anus rather than from the floor, however, it isn’t unheard of for them to poop directly into their feed bowl ready to eat for later.
As you can see Chinchillas take saving their food for later to a whole new level!
Why Do Chinchillas Eat Their Own Poop?
One of the biggest questions owners want to know, is why Chinchillas eat their own poop.
There is a very good explanation for this and once you understand ‘why’ you will realise it all makes complete sense.
When a Chinchillas goes for a poop, there are two parts to the elements excreted.
The first part of Chinchilla poop is excreted as regular bits of digested food as you would expect.
This is usually very dry and dull looking and does not contain any valuable nutrients.
The second part, known as ‘Caecotrophy’ is excreted as undigested vitamins and minerals.
This is usually displayed as a shiny, smelly pellet and your Chinchilla can instantly recognise that this is full of nutrients that have not been digested properly.
Rather than waste this healthy nutritional pellet they choose to eat it and let it go through the digestive system again. This is very important for your Chinchillas overall nutritional health.
This is actually a pretty smart concept, as your Chinchilla is trying to keep hold of as many vitamins and nutrients in their body as possible to keep them healthy, fit, and happy.
As mentioned previously, there are many weird and wonderful ways that our animal friends will choose to take care of themselves.
As a side note, this is not a concept I will be trying for myself! I will leave it to the pros.
Is It Unhealthy For My Chinchilla To Eat Their Own Poop?
As mentioned previously, the process of secreting ‘Caecotrophy’ is very healthy for your Chinchilla and should not be something you should worry about as an owner.
It may seem pretty disgusting to you and an option you would never consider yourself, but to your Chinchilla, it is perfectly normal.
By eating their own poop, your Chinchilla is taking care of themselves and assisting with their gut health.
Having a good balance of bacteria in the gut is important for your Chin. Generally, if something is wrong with a Chinchilla’s body it will be their gut and intestines that will typically be the first parts affected.
Therefore their gut must stay fully functional and healthy.
Poop eating should not be viewed as an unhealthy activity, but something that contributes to your Chinchillas overall wellbeing.
You should view this as positive for you, you will have much less poop to clear up each day!
Do All Chinchillas Eat Their Own Poop?
Eating cecotropes poop is something that comes naturally for chinchillas for the reasons we have already laid out in this article.
For these reasons, yes as a general rule of thumb a healthy chinchilla with a good balanced diet will eat their cecotropes.
You can check out our food list for chinchillas here…that covers the foods your chinchillas should be eating as well as the ones they need to avoid!
If you notice that your chinchilla isn’t eating their cecotropes then there could be a few reasons for this including producing more than is required for nutritional purposes, poop diet and more.
At this point it would be best to speak to your vet for advice as each case will be different depending on the situation.
Do All Chinchillas Produce Cecotropes Poop?
All chinchillas produce cecotropes unless they have a problem with their digestive system.
(don’t worry if you have never seen your chinchilla producing cecotropes as they will nearly always eat them instantly and this is more often than not at night when you are likely to be asleep)
Producing the cecotropes faeces that chinchillas eat isn’t a choice and is rather something that they have adapted to do over years of evolution.
The Andes mountains in Chile where chinchillas are originally from is a harsh environment and requires animals such as chinchillas to be able to develop clever ways to survive and eating nutrient-rich cecotropes is just one of those clever ways chinchillas have evolved.
How Often Do Chinchillas Produce Cecotropes Poop?
Chinchillas can poop over 200 times per day due to the way their digestive systems work.
Out of these 200 plus poops, they are sure to produce some cecotropes, as we mentioned earlier, it can often be difficult to notice them in your chin’s cage as they are eaten almost as soon as they are produced.
When Do Chinchillas Produce Cecotropes Poop?
As a chinchillas owner, right now you might be thinking that you have never seen cecotropes and are sure that your chin has never produced them?
Well, the reason why you have never or very rarely noticed your chinchilla producing cecotropes and eating them is because this activity usually happens at night.
As most chinchillas are less active through the day and sleep the majority of the time, they are less likely to poop.
From the hours of around 7-10:30pm when your chinchilla is becoming more active and eating more, this is the time when they will produce more cecotropes and eat them.
You can find out exactly when chinchillas are most active by heading over to our new post that covers all you need to know about how active your chinchilla is in under 3 minutes…
Of course, there is no written rule that your chin will produce and eat cecotropes within this time frame and this activity could happen at any time of day, however, this is just the most likely time.
Can I Stop My Chinchilla From Eating Their Own Poop?
Let me tell you this from experience, there is absolutely nothing you can do about your Chinchilla eating their own poop.
Sorry to disappoint you, but it’s true. You can’t physically stop them, you can’t argue with them and you essentially have no bargaining tools.
Caecotroph is a very natural process and one that does not need to be forcibly stopped.
It is always best practice to let nature take its course and not intervene where possible.
By trying to stop your Chinchilla eating their own poop you are essentially asking them to compromise their own health.
You could find that somewhere along the line your Chinchilla has prevented themselves from becoming ill by taking care of their gut health.
Interfering with this process is not necessary. It may not be very nice for you to see, but you can be assured that it is highly beneficial for your Chin.
Do Chinchillas Eat Their Cage Mates Poop?
The process of Caecotrophy requires the Chinchilla to eat their poop. Based on this is very unlikely you will find your Chin eating their cage mates poop also.
Generally, Chinchillas will eat the poop directly from their own anus, making it much more difficult for them to eat that of their cage mates.
It is much easier for your Chin to recognise their own poop and how valuable that is to their nutritional health.
It is not impossible though to find your Chin eating their mate’s poop and you will find that this will usually occur when poop has been secreted directly into feed bowls.
What Does Cecotropes Poop Look Like?
The cecotropes poop that your chinchilla will eat both looks and feels different from regular poop.
The way that cecotropes are formed is different to regular poop. You will notice that regular poop is basically individual small pellets and opposed to cecotropes that are a cluster of pellets that are stuck together like a bunch of black grapes.
The colour of cecotropes will usually be a lighter colour than regular poop and covered in a slight mucus when you look close.
Cecotropes are usually much softer than regular poop and also have a shiny look to them.
The final thing you may notice is that there can often be a thin layer of mucus that coats the cecotropes.
All of these distinguishable features make it easy to spot cecotropes poop from regular poop and you will likely be able to easily be able to spot it in your chinchillas cage now you know what you are looking for.
Does Cecotropes Poop Smell?
Right now you are probably thinking “all poop smells” right?…well not exactly!
You will notice that the regular poop that your chinchilla does hardly smells at all.
This will be true if your chin has a healthy diet and is also fit and healthy too. This means that their poop will be fully digested and extremely dry and moisture free.
This in turn, also means that the poop will usually have next to no smell.
Cecotropes on the other hand, are made of partially digested food and full of moisture.
Unfortunately, these two factors mean that the cecotropes have a strong and pungent smell that can be quite noticeable throughout the cage and even the room.
What Foods Should Be Fed for Healthy Gut Function?
Feeding your Chinchilla correctly and providing the right types of food can help massively with the overall health of your Chin. This, in turn, may reduce the amount of their own poop they need to eat to gain all the nutrition their system needs.
We must remember that Chinchillas are classed as exotic pets even though they live very comfortably in our homes. According to Vet Times “The Key to the avoidance of nutritional problems in exotics are variety, quantity and quality.
Diets should be as natural as possible – if not physically at least in nutritional content”
Vet Times also declared that “commercial diets cannot be entirely relied on to fulfil every need and, although some diets are good quality, many more have been produced with very little research”
The best advice is to stick to foods as natural as possible. The good news is there are a huge variety of natural feeds to choose from for your Chinchilla.
Choosing the right type of feed for your Chinchilla can make a huge difference in determining how the vitamins and minerals in these foods are processed through your Chin’s system.
Try to avoid feeding too many man-made treats, as Chinchillas do well with more natural type feeds.
We recommend heading over to our free guide that lists the foods that your chinchillas should eat to live a happy and healthy life and well as the hay and pellet products we recommend you choose.
In conclusion, it is always possible that your Chinchilla will eat their own poop. It is a very natural process and one that should not be interfered with.
It may not seem very nice to you, but there is very little you can do to stop this behaviour.
Caecotroph is vital for your Chinchilla to receive all the vitamins and minerals their body needs however feeding the right types of feeds can often reduce the need for your Chin to eat their own poop.
By feeding the right types in good quantities such as hay and wood you are giving your Chinchilla’s body the best possible chance of digesting correctly the first time around. Always allow nature to take its own course where possible.