Are there people who eat poop
Coprophagia: Why it pays to feed your own feces
Rabbits produce two types of feces: hard and soft - which they eat again regularly. What sounds like a bit of getting used to is, however, an important building block for rabbit health. This is proven by an experiment by Ming Li from Henan Agricultural University and his team, the results of which were posted on the Biorxive. The scientists raised two groups of rabbits, half of which could also consume their own waste products. The other animals were given a ruff that ensured that they could only eat the food that the researchers gave them accordingly.
After 90 days, Li and Co then compared the two groups: the rabbits that were free of faeces weighed on average almost a third less than their conspecifics, even though they had otherwise received the same amount of food. They also had a smaller liver, which the researchers attribute to a lack of retinoic acid. This is made in the liver with the help of digested vitamin A; poor supply with it is associated with abnormal organ growth. An analysis of gene expression in both groups of animals showed that the genes linked to retinoic acid were less active in the faecal-free half - suggesting that faecal intake is necessary to maintain a healthy liver.
This article is included in Spectrum - The Week, 02/2019
Earlier studies had already shown that the rabbits' intestinal flora is poorly developed or works less efficiently if they do not absorb faeces. As a result, the animals are less able to utilize the food they eat, which ultimately explains the below-average weight gain. Compared to the "New Scientist", Scott Weese from the University of Guelph criticized Li's study design: It could not be ruled out that the rabbits' ruff stressed the rabbits, which could also affect their health.
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