Excess cecotropes? 4 month old Holland Lop

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Jmoore135

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Hi everyone! We welcomed our new Holland Lop a few weeks ago. Right away I noticed either she isn’t eating any of her cecos or she is just producing a ton of them. At first I was completely panicked waking up to this sort of mess because it looks like diarrhea but it is not. Just about every morning, there are cecotropes mushed down on her hidey box. This is where she sleeps. I find them throughout the day on her mat as well. I cut out all treats and switched completely to the pellets we use for our older rabbit after weaning her from the original junky pellets she was on. I reduced her pellets to about 1/2 c a day and she eats hat constantly throughout the day. I clean her bum every morning as well since she is laying in this mess all night and sometimes we get some stuck pieces to her fur. Any ideas how to reduce the production of her cecotropes? Anyone else have this happen with a baby and has grown out of it?
 

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JBun

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Rabbits coming to a new home can sometimes be distracted from eating their cecotropes like normal. This can also happen with young rabbits that are easily distracted by things. This will usually resolve when they settle in and/or get a bit older and settle down.

But uneaten cecotropes can also happen because a rabbit is producing improperly formed mushy cecotropes from too many carbs and/or pellets in the diet. Or excess normally formed cecotropes can be produced from a diet too rich in protein from too many pellets and/or being fed too much alfalfa hay, and not getting enough fiber in the diet. This will usually resolve with the proper change of diet of reducing carb rich foods and pellets, or from changing from alfalfa hay to free fed grass hay and reducing pellet amounts.

What kind of pellets and hay do you feed? Is your bun eating a pile of grass hay at least the size of her body per day? What's your rabbits approximate size/weight? Any other foods other than hay and pellets, that you're still feeding?
 

Jmoore135

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Rabbits coming to a new home can sometimes be distracted from eating their cecotropes like normal. This can also happen with young rabbits that are easily distracted by things. This will usually resolve when they settle in and/or get a bit older and settle down.

But uneaten cecotropes can also happen because a rabbit is producing improperly formed mushy cecotropes from too many carbs and/or pellets in the diet. Or excess normally formed cecotropes can be produced from a diet too rich in protein from too many pellets and/or being fed too much alfalfa hay, and not getting enough fiber in the diet. This will usually resolve with the proper change of diet of reducing carb rich foods and pellets, or from changing from alfalfa hay to free fed grass hay and reducing pellet amounts.

What kind of pellets and hay do you feed? Is your bun eating a pile of grass hay at least the size of her body per day? What's your rabbits approximate size/weight? Any other foods other than hay and pellets, that you're still feeding?
Thank you for your response! I’ve read such reasons and have not given her any alfalfa hay, only Timothy. She has some alfalfa cubes she chews occasionally. She eats A LOT of hay. (Could it be that she needs more alfalfa hay?) With my older bun I always fed him unlimited pellets before starting veggies (about 5months) and never had this happening. With this bun, Posey is her name, I’ve cut back a bit thinking it might be the pellet intake. She gets about a half a cup daily of pellets. We use small pet select Timothy hay and pellets. She gets a few pieces of parsley and cilantro each morning but just small amounts since she’s still being introduced to veggies. No treats at all. It seems like A TON of cecotropes to me. I’ve also never noticed her eating any of them before. I try offering them to her especially the ones that are not smushed and she’s not interested in them at all. All of the whole cecotropes I have Found are very mushy and soft. Her regular droppings are perfect. All dry firm uniform in shape and bust open and crumble into chewed hay dust just like it should.
 

Diane R

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Thank you for your response! I’ve read such reasons and have not given her any alfalfa hay, only Timothy. She has some alfalfa cubes she chews occasionally. She eats A LOT of hay. (Could it be that she needs more alfalfa hay?) With my older bun I always fed him unlimited pellets before starting veggies (about 5months) and never had this happening. With this bun, Posey is her name, I’ve cut back a bit thinking it might be the pellet intake. She gets about a half a cup daily of pellets. We use small pet select Timothy hay and pellets. She gets a few pieces of parsley and cilantro each morning but just small amounts since she’s still being introduced to veggies. No treats at all. It seems like A TON of cecotropes to me. I’ve also never noticed her eating any of them before. I try offering them to her especially the ones that are not smushed and she’s not interested in them at all. All of the whole cecotropes I have Found are very mushy and soft. Her regular droppings are perfect. All dry firm uniform in shape and bust open and crumble into chewed hay dust just like it should.
I would definitely cut down pellets to no more than 1 tbsp a day especially as she's a good hay eater.
 

Jmoore135

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I would definitely cut down pellets to no more than 1 tbsp a day especially as she's a good hay eater.
Wow! Really? She’s probably only about 2 lbs max right now. Her first vet appt is on Nov. 27th. When she will be 4 months old. I was thinking about cutting down even more but I was afraid she would lose weight. I’ll look into this though. I guess it could be a sensitivity to the pellets too right? I just finished the transition to the small pets select pellets we use, from the other pro hutch brand she was originally getting before she was with us so I guess that’s possible too. Thanks!
 

Diane R

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Wow! Really? She’s probably only about 2 lbs max right now. Her first vet appt is on Nov. 27th. When she will be 4 months old. I was thinking about cutting down even more but I was afraid she would lose weight. I’ll look into this though. I guess it could be a sensitivity to the pellets too right? I just finished the transition to the small pets select pellets we use, from the other pro hutch brand she was originally getting before she was with us so I guess that’s possible too. Thanks!
She shouldn't lose weight if she has constant access to a variety of fresh grass hay. It could be the particular brand of pellets too, yes, but I would cut way down first and see whether that works rather than changing pellets again. You may need to be patient, these things don't usually resolve in a few days.
 

mandeerobin

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Hi,
I have a Holland lop as well, Dusty is her name. She is now 2 years old. I had the same experience you have had when I first got her. I freaked out and my vet told me the same advice Jen just gave you. Too many carbs or protein and to reduce the pellets. It did get better as she settled in and as she got older.
 

JBun

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Like Diane R mentions, you could try reducing pellets some to see if that helps, but only if your rabbit continues eating hay really well. And how much pellets can be reduced will depend on the cut of hay you're feeding. Soft strands contain most of the nutrients, hard stems are mostly fiber. When a coarse hay is fed, more pellets need to be fed to make up for the lack of nutrients in the hay, to maintain a good protein/nutrient/fiber balance for good weight maintenance and health. But if a hay is soft to medium coarse, usually pellets can be reduced without causing weight loss or other health issues, because it's the right balance of protein, nutrients, and fiber for good health.

I've had to have some rabbits on a low or no pellet diet because of particular health issues, and they did perfectly fine with minimal to no pellets. But only because they were getting a cut of free fed grass hay(medium soft good quality green grass hay) that provided the necessary nutrients for weight and health maintenance, along with some select leafy greens.

As with any diet change, it's always important to monitor a rabbits weight and body condition to ensure they don't have unhealthy weight loss with the changes. So weighing and checking a rabbits body condition once or twice weekly is something I would suggest doing. And if in doubt or you have any concerns, it's always best to consult with a knowledgeable rabbit vet.

Monitoring your rabbits weight


Another possible reason your rabbit isn't eating her cecotropes is because of the sudden diet change altering how the cecotropes taste to her. Because they smell and taste different and she's not used to that change yet, this could also be why she's leaving them. Once she gets used to them smelling different and has also had time to settle in, she may then start eating them again.

Along that line, the cilantro and parsley could also be affecting the smell and taste. So you may want to try cutting the parsley and cilantro first to see if that's the cause and if that doesn't resolve things, then try reducing pellet amounts. It may just be she has less need for vitamin packed pellets and needs more fiber from hay.

Monitoring weight and body condition, then tweeking the pellet, hay, and veggies in a rabbits diet, is how I've always worked out the best diet for each of my rabbits. What diet works best for one rabbit, may not be the same for another. So it can take a little bit of experimenting, but usually done gradually with slow changes, and always done as safely as possible for the health of the rabbit.
 

Jmoore135

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Like Diane R mentions, you could try reducing pellets some to see if that helps, but only if your rabbit continues eating hay really well. And how much pellets can be reduced will depend on the cut of hay you're feeding. Soft strands contain most of the nutrients, hard stems are mostly fiber. When a coarse hay is fed, more pellets need to be fed to make up for the lack of nutrients in the hay, to maintain a good protein/nutrient/fiber balance for good weight maintenance and health. But if a hay is soft to medium coarse, usually pellets can be reduced without causing weight loss or other health issues, because it's the right balance of protein, nutrients, and fiber for good health.

I've had to have some rabbits on a low or no pellet diet because of particular health issues, and they did perfectly fine with minimal to no pellets. But only because they were getting a cut of free fed grass hay(medium soft good quality green grass hay) that provided the necessary nutrients for weight and health maintenance, along with some select leafy greens.

As with any diet change, it's always important to monitor a rabbits weight and body condition to ensure they don't have unhealthy weight loss with the changes. So weighing and checking a rabbits body condition once or twice weekly is something I would suggest doing. And if in doubt or you have any concerns, it's always best to consult with a knowledgeable rabbit vet.

Monitoring your rabbits weight


Another possible reason your rabbit isn't eating her cecotropes is because of the sudden diet change altering how the cecotropes taste to her. Because they smell and taste different and she's not used to that change yet, this could also be why she's leaving them. Once she gets used to them smelling different and has also had time to settle in, she may then start eating them again.

Along that line, the cilantro and parsley could also be affecting the smell and taste. So you may want to try cutting the parsley and cilantro first to see if that's the cause and if that doesn't resolve things, then try reducing pellet amounts. It may just be she has less need for vitamin packed pellets and needs more fiber from hay.

Monitoring weight and body condition, then tweeking the pellet, hay, and veggies in a rabbits diet, is how I've always worked out the best diet for each of my rabbits. What diet works best for one rabbit, may not be the same for another. So it can take a little bit of experimenting, but usually done gradually with slow changes, and always done as safely as possible for the health of the rabbit.
Thank you all for all of this excellent advice. I’m going to buy a variety pack of hay and mix it up a bit. My Timothy hay is a nice blend of stalky and soft and she definitely prefers the stalky so I’ll mix in some other soft green grass hay varieties and see what we end up sticking with. I’m going to discuss all of this at her appointment on the 27th as well and I’ll keep you all updated! It’s so nice to have this community of caring and knowledgeable people
 

Jmoore135

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Update: after reducing pellet amount to 1tbsp as per @Diane R advice, and reducing her fresh greens amount, I’m happy to report that Poseys cecotropes are appearing to be in the normal production realm! I’m going to slowly increase the amount on pellets to 1/4c over the next couple of weeks and see if she stays good with it. Then I will start introducing more fresh greens and take it one day at a time. I have a canvas hay bag feeder and am still refilling once each day after packing it full of hay so she’s eating about 3x her body size in hay at this point. Which is about double what my older bunny eats and it blows my mind. She is still putting on weight as i check every morning with my mini scale. I think she’s just very hungry. She eats her pellets and small amount of cilantro, parsley and spring mix salad in a matter of minutes when served in the morning. She’s more ravenous than my 7 month old black lab 😂 at least she’s asking me for more attention since she knows I’m the one with the goods 😂 it’s definitely helped us bond more. I think we’re all winning here. Thanks again y’all!! Here are some photos for your entertainment 💕 Posey (tan baby) big boy jet (white) and their best dog sister and protector, Pepper.
 

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Diane R

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Update: after reducing pellet amount to 1tbsp as per @Diane R advice, and reducing her fresh greens amount, I’m happy to report that Poseys cecotropes are appearing to be in the normal production realm! I’m going to slowly increase the amount on pellets to 1/4c over the next couple of weeks and see if she stays good with it. Then I will start introducing more fresh greens and take it one day at a time. I have a canvas hay bag feeder and am still refilling once each day after packing it full of hay so she’s eating about 3x her body size in hay at this point. Which is about double what my older bunny eats and it blows my mind. She is still putting on weight as i check every morning with my mini scale. I think she’s just very hungry. She eats her pellets and small amount of cilantro, parsley and spring mix salad in a matter of minutes when served in the morning. She’s more ravenous than my 7 month old black lab 😂 at least she’s asking me for more attention since she knows I’m the one with the goods 😂 it’s definitely helped us bond more. I think we’re all winning here. Thanks again y’all!! Here are some photos for your entertainment 💕 Posey (tan baby) big boy jet (white) and their best dog sister and protector, Pepper.
Well done! As she is eating lots of hay and not losing weight I would keep her on the small amount of pellets.
 

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