Hamster eating poop

Many hamster owners become disgusted when they see their hamster eating poop. Hamsters practice coprophagy this is the eating of feces. Coprophagy is from the Greek word Copro: meaning feces, or excrement. Phagein: meaning eat. This is normal behavior in hamsters, other rodents and lagomorph's it is of great nutritional importance to them.
Theses droppings are thought to be a valuable source of vitamins B and K. Vitamin K-1 (Phylloquinone) is found in plants and can be produced in the intestines it is the most biologically active form. (Menaquinones) Vitamin K-2 is normally produced by bacteria in the intestines contributing to about 10 percent of the total vitamin-K needs. Vitamin K also participates in the activation of bone proteins which greatly enhances their calcium binding properties. A low level of circulating vitamin K is associated with low bone mineral density. Thus, an adequate intake of vitamin K may help protect against bone fractures. Lactating female hamsters are known to pass their own droppings to the young pups whilst still in the nest.

Hamsters are mainly herbivores, plant and vegetation eaters. The hamsters digestive system is especially inefficient and does not remove entirely all the nutrients in the first passing through the system. Sometimes droppings of partially digested food are passed and then generally eaten immediately. These feces contain substantial amounts of semi-digested food. Therefore the eating of theses particular feces allows for the recovery of the nutrients that were not utilized during the first pass through the system. They also produce normal stools of completely digested food of which is garbage and is disposed of.

Lagomorph's, (rabbits and hares) practice coprophagy known as Cecotrophy which is the eating of a specific type of feces that are produced in the cecum. These are small soft fecal pellets that resemble a cluster of grapes. Rabbits usually eat the cecotrophs directly from the anus. These are usually produced 4-5 hours after a meal. The cecotrophs are softer than regular pellets and are stuck together with mucus.

A Hamster passing green colored stools.

Some owners become concerned when their hamster may periodically produce poop that is green.
There are many factors that can cause a hamsters' feces to appeared green, or with a yellow tinge. Green poo is not as sinister as you may think it to be, and none of them are serious enough to warrant any concern. Green stools or poop in a hamster can be quite natural and there are many reasons for this. The mostly likely cause is from eating green leafy vegetables. Any vegetable with green leaves contain chlorophyll. This is the green pigment in plants that is required for photosynthesis and allows the plant to obtain energy from light. Any green vegetable can have this effect. All green plants contain at least one type of chlorophyll. This is a natural plant pigment which is tasteless and quite harmless, but the pigment can produce feces with a green appearance. Chlorophyll can be extracted and also used as a food coloring for many different foods, it has an E number (E140.) Tartrazine, index number E102 is a strong yellow dye that can produce green or yellowish poop. This is a dye that is used to color some parts of hamster food. Iron rich food can also lead to a green hue in hamster poop.
Another cause may be due to a food protein allergy to cow's milk or soy. Sometimes, when food passes through the digestive system the system may not remove all the vitamins and protein. This undigested food may then be covered in a yellow green mucus. This excess mucus is secreted to stop irritants and pollutants that are created by the putrefying undigested food residues. Other foods such as wheat / bread can cause an increase of green mucus secretions. The body does not digest and absorb all carbohydrates, sugar, and starches leaving some undigested.

Hamster eating poop


Copyright Hammysworld 2008 ©