Do Capybaras Eat Their Own Poop?

Have you ever heard the rather disturbing fact that capybaras eat their own poop? If so, you might be wondering if this is true, and what on earth could prompt them to do this – so let’s find out.

Capybaras do eat their own poop, in a process known as coprophagy. They are not the only grass-eating mammals that do this, and although it is alarming to people, it’s thought that doing so helps them to get more nutrients from their food. If you see a capybara doing this, you don’t need to be alarmed by it.

Capybaras are unfortunately rather famous for eating their own poop and it’s something that a lot of humans find bizarre and unpleasant, but there is a good reason for this behavior. We’re going to use this article to find out more about it!

Why Do Capybaras Eat Their Own Poop?

Although it might sound both disgusting and dangerous to people, a capybara eating its own poop is just following its instincts, and will not be harmed by the process at all. It’s perfectly normal for capybaras to do this in their daily life, and there are several thoughts about why they might do so.

Unsurprisingly, it’s because the behavior offers benefits: it gives them access to more nutrients. Plants, which capybaras live on, are very difficult to digest, and many plant-eaters struggle to get adequate nutrition from their diets. They have to eat a lot of plants to get enough to sustain themselves.

Different mammals have come up with different ways of dealing with this. Some eat more and get larger, while others simply do less so that they need less nutrition (e.g. sloths). However, a significant proportion use multiple stages of digestion to break the grass down as much as they can, and access as many nutrients as possible.

Capybara ( Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris ) on the grass

A cow, for example, has four stomachs, and the grass that they eat goes through several stages of digestion before they pass it out as waste. This helps them to break down the fibers and get the food that they need from it.

Capybaras also have a multi-chambered stomach, which makes it easier for them to extract nutrients, but there’s still a lot of goodness left in the grass when it passes out of the animal as waste.

By consuming their own poop, they can digest it a second time, extracting crucial nutrients that weren’t gathered on the previous run. Furthermore, the poop will now have lots of microbes in it that have started to break the grass down further, making it protein-rich.

Most capybaras do this in the morning. This is when the poop is particularly protein-rich, so they get the most nutritional benefit from the consumption of poop.

Are Capybaras Stinky?

Capybaras do not generally smell bad, no. They have a somewhat musky odor, but you have to get quite close before you can smell it. They don’t have thick undercoats, so odors don’t tend to cling to them, and they generally have little to no smell.

However, if you keep capybaras, you will need to ensure that you keep their habitat clean and fresh at all times. Capybaras will be miserable and far more prone to diseases if you raise them in dirty conditions.

You can train a capybara to use a certain area in the enclosure as a litter area, but you should bear in mind that the adults will also mark their territory with both urine and feces. You cannot prevent this, and it may mean that the area smells.

Although capybaras themselves don’t generally smell, their poop can certainly have a pungent aroma. If you have kept other rodents, you will probably be familiar with the grassy scent. It’s generally less offensive than the smell of a carnivore’s poop, but it isn’t pleasant.

If you are hoping to keep capybaras, make sure you do so responsibly. Many people are not set up for these rodents, which need an enormous amount of space, access to water, and plenty of their own kind around. They are wild animals, and often do not make good pets.

Why Do Capybaras Poop So Much?

Capybaras are large mammals and they need to eat a lot to get enough nutrients to sustain themselves. The food that they absorb needs to go somewhere – so it comes out as waste. This is perfectly normal.

Many rodents poop a lot, because of the way their bodies are set up to take in food. They do quite a lot of work to process the food, but because they are going to eat and re-digest it, a lot of waste does come out.

There isn’t much information about exactly how much capybaras poop, but they generally do so throughout the day. Because they are grazers, they are constantly taking in food from morning to night – and the food has to come out the other end to make room for more food.

Do Capybaras Drink Poop Water?

You might sometimes see a capybara drinking water that it has pooped in, yes.

Capybaras often poop in the water, and indeed, these mammals will sometimes go into a body of water just to poop. It’s thought that this might be an attempt to make their presence less obvious to predators by removing signs of waste so that the predator doesn’t know where they are.

It might also be because capybaras feel safer in the water, and many animals are vulnerable when they are toileting – so they go into the water to minimize their vulnerability.

It’s quite likely that they do sometimes drink this water. After all, in the wild, they do not have separate bodies of water for toileting and swimming, so if they need a drink, they will be drinking from the water they have pooped in.

Some people who keep capybaras give them a bowl of water to poop in, and this can make cleaning up after them easier. Since they eat their own poop, you probably don’t need to worry if you see your capybara drinking from this bowl on occasion. However, you should make sure that it is cleaned daily to minimize the risk of bad bacteria developing.

What Do Capybaras Eat?

Capybaras live on vegetable matter. They eat a lot of grass, but they also consume tubers, plant roots, sugar cane, and aquatic vegetation. They can digest pretty tough plant materials thanks to their multi-chambered stomachs, so their diet is quite varied.

Capybaras can even consume things like reeds and the bark from trees. They have exceptionally sharp teeth that will scissor the plant matter into small, manageable pieces, and then their amazing digestive systems can get to work.

These mammals are strictly herbivores. They don’t eat meat, but they can bite very hard, which you should be aware of if you plan to keep or work with these beautiful animals. Be careful and don’t provoke them.

Conclusion

Capybaras do eat their own poop, yes. This is beneficial to them because the poop contains useful microbes and nutrients that were not digested the first time they were consumed. Many plant-eating mammals have additional methods for extracting nutrition from their meals, and consuming their poop helps capybaras to maximize the value they get from their food.

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