Chinchillas are adorable.
There is no doubt about that.
But not everything they do is adorable.
Some of their habits can seem downright disgusting.
And perhaps on top of that list is their tendency to eat their own feces.
Why do chinchillas eat their poop?
You might be happy to hear they do have a good reason for doing so.
Keep reading to learn exactly why your chinchilla eats its own poop, and whether you should do anything about it.
- 1 Why Do Chinchillas Eat Their Poop?
- 2 Chinchillas Eating Their Own Poop: Final Thoughts
Why Do Chinchillas Eat Their Poop?
Chinchillas eat their own poop simply because it is just a natural part of their life. This is known as coprophagy, and it allows your chinchilla to get back any extra nutrients that it may have lost during excretion.
The chinchilla’s digestive system is a bit different, which is the reason there are a lot of nutrients in chinchilla poop. So let’s take a closer look at how digestion works in these small rodents.
Your Chinchilla’s Digestive System
Chinchillas and similar mammals, like rabbits, produce a special type of poop known as cecotrope. They produce thes is a specialized part of their digestive system that is referred to as a cecum.
Your chinchilla’s digestive system creates a number of bacteria that ferment ingested food in the cecum. Eventually, what is left, the cecotrope, is pushed out through the anus.
The excrement still contains many nutrients, like vitamins B and K. There is no point in letting these nutrients go to waste. For the sake of efficiency, your chinchilla will eat its poop to put these lost nutrients back into its body.
Even though this may seem disgusting to us humans, it is completely normal for chinchillas and rabbit, so don’t be too concerned if you notice your chinchilla doing this.
Should I Stop My Chinchilla From Eating Its Poop?
I would not recommend that you stop your chinchilla from eating its poop. It’s a natural chinchilla behavior and something they are biologically programmed to do. Besides, unless you are watching your chinchilla 24/7, it will be extremely difficult to stop it from doing this.
If you stop your chinchilla from eating its poop, it could also lead to health concerns, such as vitamin deficiencies. This could result in your chinchilla feeling more lethargic or suffering from a weak immune system.
It can also affect your chinchilla’s digestive system, if you stop it from eating its own poop. A chinchilla’s digestive system is sensitive enough as it is. If you do something to disrupt its natural functioning, it’s going to upset the stomach, because it is something it won’t be used to.
When Is My Chinchilla Most Likely to Eat Its Own Poop?
A chinchilla will usually poop at night. If you rarely see your pet eating its own poop, this is why. You’re probably asleep! Chinchillas spend most of their day sleeping and only start to become active during the late evening, usually anywhere from 7:30 pm to 10:30 pm.
Your chinchilla will usually eat its poop as soon as it has been excreted, so it’s a very quick process. But at least it makes it easier for you, when it comes to cleaning out its cage.
Will Chinchillas Eat Another Chinchilla’s Poop?
If you have two chinchillas, it is very unlikely that they will eat each other’s poop. A chinchilla will only usually eat its own droppings, since this is the poop it knows has a nutritional value for it.
It also comes straight from the anus and they like it fresh. So unless one chinchilla is just waiting around for its mate to defecate, it is very unlikely that a chinchilla will catch feces from another in time. And there is no doubt that the other chinchilla will want to eat its own poop and it obviously has the best chance of getting to it first.
Feeding Your Chinchilla The Best Diet
It’s important you feed your chinchilla the correct foods, to ensure it’s getting all the vitamins it needs and to make the coprophagy process much more beneficial.
You should try to stick to natural foods, such as hay and chinchilla pellets. These are staples when it comes to your chinchilla’s diet. They are packed full of all the necessary nutrients that your chinchilla needs.
You can give your chinchilla small treats every now and then, like dried fruits and vegetables. But stick to small quantities, so that you don’t cause your chinchilla to become sick or bloated.
Chinchillas Eating Their Own Poop: Final Thoughts
Chinchillas do have a good reason for eating their own poop. Their digestive systems were designed to do exactly that. They do not extract all of the nutrients from the food chinchillas eat, which leaves the poop full of healthy ingredients.
By eating the excreted poop, chinchillas ensure they do not lose those nutrients. They give their digestive systems a second chance at extracting all of the nutrients from the food. And again, it helps you with the cleanup, because chinchillas poop a lot!