Domestic cavy or guinea pig poop is actually quite amazing. It’s vastly different from the several wild cavy species that inhabit South America. Wild guinea pigs rarely poop and when they do, the pieces are small and thin. But domestic guinea pigs poop copiously and have much thicker and larger poop pieces. This makes some keepers of guinea pigs wonder if the suspected wild species of guinea pigs are actually the ancestors of the modern guinea pig.
Unlike people and many kinds of mammals, guinea pigs excrete more than one type of feces. The first type is poop and consists of normal poop waste. But the second type is technically not poop (waste material) but caecotrophs (or cecotropes). They get that name because they are produced by the guinea pig’s cecum. These are made up of vitamins and minerals and some proteins that the guinea pig’s digestive system could not absorb properly – until the guinea pig eats the caecotrophs. We’ll get to caecotrophs later.
Anyway: The Scoop on Piggy Poop
Remember Good N Plenty candy? Normal guinea pig poop is shaped just like a Good N Plenty candy piece, only much smaller and is a dark brown. The poop should always have this shape. When the poop begins to dry out, it turns black and becomes just a little bit thinner.
It is not normal for guinea pig poop to come out like a tiny, black pearl necklace. This usually means the guinea pig is constipated. It is also not normal for the poop to be teardrop shaped. This tends to be a sign of either malnutrition or dehydration. If the poop seems to have tiny dents or scoops taken out of it, this could be signs of a yeast infection in the cavy’s intestines. Contact a vet.
It is completely normal for guinea pigs to poop frequently, even hourly. They may produce one pellet or “bean” or they may produce a small pile or trail of poop as they travel about.
It is not normal for a guinea pig to stop pooping for more than 12 hours. A guinea pig that has not passed anything in 24 hours is a very sick guinea pig and needs to be taken to a vet immediately.
Did My Guinea Pig Eat Her Own Poop?
Remember I mentioned ceacotrophs? These are often softer and rounded than a poop pellet. Sometimes they are a greenish-black. It’s very rare for a guinea pig owner to see these because a healthy guinea pig will eat them directly from the rectum, often as they are grooming themselves.
If guinea pigs stop eating their caecotrophs, they die. It’s as simple as that. The caecotrophs contain nutrients a guinea pig needs but cannot absorb unless he digests the material twice. It’s kind of like a cow chewing her cud, only the rectum is involved instead of another stomach.
Many novice guinea pig owners are shocked to see their pets eating what seems like poop, but this is absolutely normal behavior. Please do not discourage your pet from eating stuff that comes out of his or her butt. Guinea pigs that live with cage mates have been known to share caecotrophs. Now that’s friendship.
“The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs.” Peter Gurney. Various publishers; 1992.
“Guinea Pigs.” Various authors. Bow Tie Press; 2005.
“Guinea Pig: Your Happy Healthy Pet – Second Edition.” Audrey Pavia. Howell Book House; 2005.
Guinea Lynx. “What’s Normal? Droppings.” http://www.guinealynx.info/normal.html#droppings