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Regular visitors to www.chrisduggleby.com 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.
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.
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