Whee really hope you aren’t eating while reading this.
If you are, please finish whatever it is before reading on. You have been warned!
This part of our guide is going to discuss digestion. Whee piggies enjoy the finer things in life which include . . . food and poop and poop as food. Yes, you heard us. Whee eat our poop. It’s not as gross as it sounds, unless you are hooman, in which case you likely pulled a face reading that! Coprophagy, as it is known, is a furry impawtent part of our digestive system. The first part of digestion is perfectly explained in this quote from Guinea Lynx (the Cavy Care bible according to the hoomans!)
Gastric Transit Time.
The food a guinea pig eats, generally leaves its stomach in a couple hours. Start to finish averages 20 hours and can vary from 8 to 30 hours, according to Hillyer and Quesenberry’s book. This does not include coprophagy, which would extend the time until the food completely leaves the system to 66 hours.
The next part is as whee mentioned called “coprophagy”. This is essentially as whee guinea pigs produce two types of poops. One is a normal poop and the other is a soft one which whee then eat. This is vital to our health as it provides us with another chance to absorb impawtent nutrients whee may have missed on the first try! Think of it as recycling!
- Whee may eat these soft poops up to 200 times in a day.
- Whee usually eat these straight from the source, whee like it fresh!
- Sick or injured piggies may eat their cagemates poops to try to collect the healthy bacteria they need from it. If they are on anti-biotics then they very likely need the good bacteria from another piggies poops. You can collect poops from other piggies and make poop soup with a little water to give to the unwell piggy. If you are too squeamish there are pro-biotics on the market which do the same thing.
So what is normal for a piggy poop you may ask. As whee mentioned before there are two types of poop, the first should be oval shaped and a shade of brown (the shade varies depending on the diet of your piggy) The second are a slightly greenish colour and the same shape. Our hooman refers to our poops as ‘beans’ as they remind her of jelly beans!
Things which you should look out for that are not normal are clumped together poops, sometimes stuck in the piggies bottom. This occurs in male piggies and is known as impaction which is smelly and not fun to deal with according to the hooman!
Another thing you don’t want to see is small poops or stringy poops with a ‘teardrop’ shaped end. These show that a piggy may have stopped eating or be dehydrated. A dehydrated piggy goes downhill fast so you really need to syringe feed them water (so long as you know how to safely) if they will not drink from their normal source and get them to a vet quickly. The final thing to look out for is diarrhea which can be life threatening. If the droppings are just soft then temporarily stopping vegetables may help but it is better to be safe and sorry so a vet trip may be in order.
For young piggies their poops can become soft/sloppy if they are overloaded with too many new vegetables at once. Whee recommend slowly introducing small amounts to get their digestive system used to it.
Also younger and older piggies can have softer poops if they eat too much of the rich first grass of Spring/Summer. This can often be solved by withholding vegetables and grass and giving extra hay but trust us when whee say it makes you extremely unpopular with us so it is best to just let us eat it in moderation till our systems readjust to eating it.
And that just about covers digestion!