Struggling with Coprophagia? Worried About Poo Sniffing? Help from a Canine Faecal Expert

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Regular visitors to will know that I do not shy away from dealing with important but sometimes controversial subjects especially where minorities and medical issues are concerned (like last week’s article on lice: here). This week is no exception as I take a closer look at a subject that has raised concerns for millions of people, namely Coprophagia. Anyone who has owned a bunny rabbit will be only too aware of how important the regular early morning gobbling up of ‘night time’ poo is to these cute little animals. Rabbits have bacteria in the rear part of their intestine which break down cellulose from plants. To use the nutrients released by this bacterial fermentation they must eat the faeces a second time (the products of the fermentation need to be absorbed through the wall of the stomach). In addition they can harness more vitamins by passing the food twice through the gut.

Yet when our favourite canine friend goes sniffing around foreign lumps of faeces in the park some of us get very worried. We chastise the doggy and tell him not to do it. Some owners even resort to physical abuse in an attempt to dissuade Rex from doing what comes naturally. Sniffing around is, for our canine friends, an important way of understanding their environment and telling them about what their friends are up to. In this respect it is a kind of canine Facebook.

Clearly we would get quite upset if someone hit us on the nose with a doggy lead every time we checked out what was happening to our friends on Facebook. Dogs have very sensitive noses and through their sense of smell they can discover a lot about the ‘person’ who delivered the faecal deposit. Of course this is a very different situation to that of the fly who likes to feed on poo and will use it as a nice warm, comfortable and nutritious environment for bringing up its babies.

A female Chrysomya megacephala feeding on faeces. Pictured in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Picture courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim)
A female Chrysomya megacephala feeding on faeces. Pictured in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (Picture courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim)

Many domesticated animals have evolved to have a preference for eating faeces, including human faeces. For example in China the ‘pig toilet’ is a term used to describe the feeding of domesticated swine on a mixture of human faeces and garbage (and of course some pig faeces ends up in the food too). I remember when I was a teenager lying in my bed after our Burmese cat had just delivered kittens. The cat promptly placed the newborn kittens onto my stomach – clearly a nice warm environment – and then went back to its nest to eat the after birth. While they were little the cat also ate the kittens’ faeces. It is believed this habit evolved as a way of maximising the mother’s intake of nutrients and also of eliminating any tell-tale traces of the presence of the young ones to protect the nest from predators. In some parts of Africa the village dogs’ diet is also known to comprise of a large proportion of human faeces (25% has been quoted). It is believed that keeping the habitation free of faeces was an important role of canines in their early domestication by humans.

So if your dog likes poo it may be our fault!

For his first solo singing debut the canine celebrity RISKKO was keen to address a subject which is important to his fellow dogs. He believed singing about Coprophagia might provide some comfort to dogs and their owners who are concerned about their natural interest in faeces. Sometimes the tensions involved in a difficult subject can be reduced by talking about it (or in our case singing about it). So, with the full support of the TRANSFORMATES 變 Music Project, and featuring the vocals of RISKKO and his friend Sid, I produced the song: ‘I’m no Coprophagiac (I just like sniffin poo)‘. If you are struggling with a Coprophagia situation why not sit down with your canine friend and watch this video together – maybe join in with the lyrics (they’re included in the video). I am sure you will feel a lot better afterwards and perhaps it will help to engender a closer mutual understanding between you. Just click on the embedded video below.

Happy sniffing!

Chris Duggleby

If you found this article interesting you might also like to take a look at some of my other reviews. Just click on the titles below:

27th April 2014: Spring Arrives Bringing Familiar Cuckoo Songs – With Their Sinister Mafioso Undertones   

19th April 2014: German Police Catch Hedgehogs Testing Home Made Crash Helmets in Saarbrücken

18th March 2014: Germany and Finland Joint Investigation: New Case of Sexual Cannibalism Including Self-mutilation (Castration) During Intercourse.

7th March 2014: Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Discovered in France – Potential for European Ecosystem Disaster

4th March 2014: 30,000 Year old giant virus found in the Siberian Permafrost and ‘resurrected’ – it is still infectious!

2nd March 2014: Wolves are better at learning from their ‘pals’ than dogs.Through domestication dogs have lost a capability that is key to success in the wild.

9th March 2013: Insects getting hooked on psychoactive drugs – How plants take advantage of bees by giving them a caffeine buzz.

2nd January 2013: Horror Story: Scientists demonstrate that drivers aim to kill innocent creatures trying to cross the road! (Tortoise-o-cide). 

28th December 2012: If you want to suck on my worm you had better whistle my song! 

6th October 2012: Blue, green or chocolate brown honey: Bee Obesity (“Obeesity”), M&Ms and a potential marketing challenge to Nutella in our children’s lunchboxes.

18th August 2012: Polar Bear dies of Encephalitis after catching Herpes from a Zebra in Wuppertal Zoo near Düsseldorf.

18th August 2012: How Bavarians and Austrians use their middle finger – Fingerhakeln: a men-only sport (did Arnold Schwarzenegger start training this way?).

11th August 2012: Do you have killer rats/mice in your cellar? Over 2000 people attacked in Germany so far this year (Hantavirus Infections at record levels).

4th August 2012: Alpine Cows are Fined 100 Euros by Judge for Ringing their Cow-bells too Loud (Steiermark Kuhglockenstraffe: die Kirchenglocken zunächst?)

4th August 2012: Should Horses be Forced to Wear Diapers to Keep Berlin Visitors’ Shoes free of Poo? (Pferdeäpfel Verursachen viel Dampf um Brandenburger Tor).

14th July 2012: Animal Emergencies and Horror Stories: Buzzards Attack Joggers, Horse Nearly Drowns in Poo, Ducklings Down the Drain.

If you like this kind of news there are plenty more articles on my Alpine Press pages which you can find here. Why not add this site to your browser favourites or subscribe to get regular updates?

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2 thoughts on “Struggling with Coprophagia? Worried About Poo Sniffing? Help from a Canine Faecal Expert”

  1. What would we do without you to enhance our educations? You must be the hit of your little boy grandkids. lol. I hate to admit I enjoyed this little ditty.

    1. Thanks Linda,
      It’s great that you like it. My favourite part are the harmonies from Sid the bear (clearly he’s a bit of a punk rocker).
      Kind regards from England,

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