Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop?

Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop?

Hi, this is Emily, from MinuteEarth. Humans eat lots of weird stuff, but one thing
we almost never eat is poop, either because we’re naturally grossed out by it, or because
we’ve learned that poop contains nasty pathogens. But for lots of animals, feces is a regular
part of the menu. That’s partly because poop isn’t necessarily
as dangerous as we think. While poops from sick individuals can contain
disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites- and contaminate anything they touch – healthy
poops are usually just water, harmless bacteria, undigested food, and some metabolic waste
and dead cells. Poison control centers consider accidental
ingestion of poop – human or otherwise – to be minimally toxic, and doctors even prescribe
poop pills from healthy people to combat hard to treat gut infections. And because the digestive process doesn’t
usually manage to suck ALL the nutrients out of food – poop is nutritious. Herbivores, for example, leave a third of
food nutrients in their poop. As a result, animals like dung beetles and
flies subsist almost entirely on nutrients from the poop of other animals. And for thousands of years, humans have built
toilets over pig stys because pigs can get almost all of their nutrition from human poop. And while some dogs will snarf down most poops
they come across, lots of dogs will actually use their keen noses to sniff out fresh poop
that has specific vitamins or enzymes they’re craving. And some animals regularly extract leftover
nutrients from their OWN poop. For example, when gorillas feed on the hard
seeds of the Dialium tree, their gut bacteria soften the tough seed but don’t extract many
nutrients. So when times are tough, gorillas will often
eat their excrement to extract the seeds’ full complement of fat and sodium. And when the southern cassowary eats cassowary
plums, the fruits are so big and the bird’s digestive tract is so short that the cassowary
poops out whole chunks of the fruit; it then turns around and picks them out to eat – and
digest – again. Other animals absolutely have to eat their
own poop. For example, rabbits eat lots of the same
foods that ruminants like cows do, but while cows have long, complex digestive tracts that
give the microbes inside time to break down the tough plant cells, rabbits have much shorter
guts. So, after a yummy plant meal, they poop a
soft mucus-covered cluster that contains the partially digested food and the microbes in
charge of digesting it. Then they gobble the whole package back up
in order to recover the nutrients and bring the microbes back into their guts. Finally, the rabbit poops real rabbit poop. Koalas, too, must eat their own poop. Or at least their own mom’s poop. They have a specialized diet of eucalyptus
leaves, which are both fibrous and toxic, and their babies aren’t born with the specialized
bacteria needed to break it down. So for several weeks, the baby just eats pap:
a soft, green poop chock full of those bacteria that the mom makes special for her little
one. Pap both supplies nutrients AND gives the
baby the microbes it needs to digest its future food. As baby food goes, this number two is second
to none. Feeding your baby poop is a pretty strange
strategy. But feeding your baby to a predator is an
even stranger one. When a quokka mom gets cornered, she sometimes
ejects a helpless joey from her pouch and runs the other way. And this actually sort of makes sense – she
has a spare! I learned this by watching the newest video
from Animalogic. If you like learning about animals, you’ll
love Animalogic, where Danielle combines her explanatory powers with her drawing skills
to teach you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about animals ranging from cute sea
otters to xenomorphic wasps. Check out Animalogic – and subscribe – at

100 Replies to “Why Do Some Animals Eat Poop?”

  1. Naw it's called waste for a reason this is Caucasian logic I have never saw a dog eat poop only flies and pigs this is bull excuse the expression Shit!

  2. Koala mom: eat it

    Koala baby: DISGUSTING

    Koala mom: ok I'll get the poo-stick


  3. If I counted correctly, they say “poop” 24 times, including one of “feces” and one “excrement”, not including the two references to pap, and excluding the one during the Animalogic sponsorship. All in about three minutes!

  4. MinuteEarth: A Qoukka throws its helpless Joey to the predator and runs the other way, but she has a spare!

    Me: And the mother of the year award goes toooooo…..

  5. I just searched up "eat poop" and this came up I was like


  6. Hey poop is only toxin the nutrients from the food to the liver the liver keeps the nutrients but liver removes toxin transfers to the gallbladder into the small intestine and to the large intestine so poop is all toxin

  7. My dog eats their own poop I think my dog eats their own poop because the dog food my dogs food has fish meat and fruits.

  8. Koalas are terrible animal

    Koalas are fucking horrible animals. They have one of the smallest brain to body ratios of any mammal, additionally – their brains are smooth. A brain is folded to increase the surface area for neurons. If you present a koala with leaves plucked from a branch, laid on a flat surface, the koala will not recognise it as food. They are too thick to adapt their feeding behaviour to cope with change. In a room full of potential food, they can literally starve to death. This is not the token of an animal that is winning at life. Speaking of stupidity and food, one of the likely reasons for their primitive brains is the fact that additionally to being poisonous, eucalyptus leaves (the only thing they eat) have almost no nutritional value. They can't afford the extra energy to think, they sleep more than 80% of their fucking lives. When they are awake all they do is eat, shit and occasionally scream like fucking satan. Because eucalyptus leaves hold such little nutritional value, koalas have to ferment the leaves in their guts for days on end. Unlike their brains, they have the largest hind gut to body ratio of any mammal. Many herbivorous mammals have adaptations to cope with harsh plant life taking its toll on their teeth, rodents for instance have teeth that never stop growing, some animals only have teeth on their lower jaw, grinding plant matter on bony plates in the tops of their mouths, others have enlarged molars that distribute the wear and break down plant matter more efficiently… Koalas are no exception, when their teeth erode down to nothing, they resolve the situation by starving to death, because they're fucking terrible animals. Being mammals, koalas raise their joeys on milk (admittedly, one of the lowest milk yields to body ratio… There's a trend here). When the young joey needs to transition from rich, nourishing substances like milk, to eucalyptus (a plant that seems to be making it abundantly clear that it doesn't want to be eaten), it finds it does not have the necessary gut flora to digest the leaves. To remedy this, the young joey begins nuzzling its mother's anus until she leaks a little diarrhoea (actually fecal pap, slightly less digested), which he then proceeds to slurp on. This partially digested plant matter gives him just what he needs to start developing his digestive system. Of course, he may not even have needed to bother nuzzling his mother. She may have been suffering from incontinence. Why? Because koalas are riddled with chlamydia. In some areas the infection rate is 80% or higher. This statistic isn't helped by the fact that one of the few other activities koalas will spend their precious energy on is rape. Despite being seasonal breeders, males seem to either not know or care, and will simply overpower a female regardless of whether she is ovulating. If she fights back, he may drag them both out of the tree, which brings us full circle back to the brain: Koalas have a higher than average quantity of cerebrospinal fluid in their brains. This is to protect their brains from injury… should they fall from a tree. An animal so thick it has its own little built in special ed helmet. I fucking hate them.

    Tldr; Koalas are stupid, leaky, STI riddled sex offenders. But, hey. They look cute. If you ignore the terrifying snake eyes and terrifying feet.


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