Coprophagia is the consumption of feces, from the Greek κόπρος copros ("feces") and φαγεῖν phagein ("to eat"). Many animal species practice coprophagia as a matter of course; other species do not normally consume feces but may do so under unusual conditions. Coprophagy refers to many kind of feces eating including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy), those once deposited or taken directly from the anus.
Coprophagia in animals
Coprophagous insects consume and redigest the feces of large animals. These feces contain substantial amounts of semi-digested food (herbivores' digestive systems are especially inefficient). The most notable feces-eating insect is the dung-beetle and the most common is the fly.
Pigs, like the above insects, will eat the feces of herbivores that leave a significant amount of semi-digested matter. In certain cultures, it was common for poor families to collect horse feces to feed their pigs. Pigs are also known to eat their own feces and even human feces as well. However, domesticated pigs should not be allowed to eat any sort of feces, as this contributes to the risk of parasite infection.
Capybara, rabbits, hamsters and other related species do not have a complex ruminant digestive system. Instead they extract more nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut. Soft fecal pellets of partially digested food are excreted and generally consumed immediately. Consuming these cecotropes is important for adequate nutritional intake of Vitamin B12. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten.
Young elephants, pandas, koalas, and hippos eat the feces of their mother to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation found on the savanna and in the jungle. When they are born, their intestines do not contain these bacteria (they are completely sterile). Without them, they would be unable to obtain any nutritional value from plants.
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