Why does my rabbit put poop on his foot?
February 7, 2011 9:17 AM   Subscribe

Rabbit owners: I have a rabbit with a very strange habit and I need some help figuring it out! Involves poop and a foot.

He keeps putting poop on his back right foot. I phrase it that way as it does seem to be on purpose. His butt is clean, his other feet are clean, his poops are perfect little spheres. He seems perfectly healthy. Yet within 24 hours of me running his foot under the tap (which he DOES NOT LIKE) and drying it off, there it is. Poop. Same place. All smushed up.

Everytime I clean it a little bit of fur comes off and now some bare skin is just starting to show through. He has soft carefresh in his litter and otherwise a soft towel so I'm not too concerned about sore hocks, but I'd rather he have a thick fur pad there.

He and his 2 bunny companions - who seem to have no issues - have free run of 2 upstairs rooms. I can't have a bunny running around where I live with poop on his foot, leaving little poop paw marks.

Any ideas? Has he been secretly watching fetish porn scat sites? Is he trying to leave a trail for himself? Anyone?
posted by Salmonberry to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
1. What type of surface is the area he hangs out on? If he has wires under him or carpet, that could be affecting the fur on his feet. I'd suggest a plastic, or hardwood solid bottom if possible.

2. Carefresh isn't something I'd use for rabbits. We use Yesterday's News or regular old wood stove pellets from Home Depot and hay. (I know you didn't ask this, but I thought I'd point it out --- lots of rabbit orgs recommend against Carefresh, too).

3. As for the poop on the foot --- does this one spend time just hanging out in the litterbox? That can cause some of what you are talking about. I doubt he's doing it on purpose. It's probably just the way he chooses to sit. I also wouldn't recommend washing his foot that often --- he doesn't need it, even with the poop on his foot. He'll clean it off himself efficiently enough. You could try cleaning the litterbox more frequently, which would help reduce the chances of poop on the foot, but that's about the only advice I can think of that would be useful. We had one bunny who would sometimes just get some poop caught on the fur of his behind because he had long fur. Wasn't much we could do about it except brush him more frequently to get rid of the loose hair.

If you can't have him running around certain areas of your house with a foot like that, you could try penning the rabbits off to an area that is acceptable for them to run around in.
posted by zizzle at 9:26 AM on February 7, 2011

If it's smushy, it could be cecals and not poop per se. It could be that he's overproducing and ends up stepping on them rather than eating them. How's his diet?
posted by cabingirl at 9:30 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

His diet is fine, lots of fresh hay and timothy-hay based pellets are served once a day, though not too much. Greens are supplied as well (romaine, parsley, the usual suspects). Fresh water is always available.

No wires in his cage, just litter and a plastic bottom. The bunnies have their own "room", our upper storage walk-in closet. Our stuff is on the shelves and the whole floor is for bunny-world. 2 litter boxes are there, one with carefresh ultra & hay, the other is just hay. No sign of them eating the bedding so I think the carefresh ultra is fine in this case.

He has been known to sleep in the hay box and I'm wondering if that's where the poop shows up. However, no sign of smushed poop in the hay box.

I too first thought it was cecals and he wasn't clearing them, but I haven't seen any other signs of them from him or his companion rabbits. That certainly doesn't dismiss them as they're my main suspect as well but then why always same place, same paw, every time?
posted by Salmonberry at 9:40 AM on February 7, 2011

I'm guessing this has something to do with the direction he customarily turns after he does his business. My old bunny would sometimes have this problem, but we figured that he would do his business, turn to the right to check it out, and accidentally (and frequently) step on a poo with his right foot. The left foot would be turning farther away from the poo, while the right would be turning toward it as he did this maneuvering, which is why it was always on one foot.
posted by BlooPen at 9:45 AM on February 7, 2011

Rabbits can be creatures of habit - I wonder if he's trying to routinely poop/pee near where another rabbit routinely poops? So when he backs into his corner to drop a duce, he tends to be standing on the spot where one of his roomies have previously minted fresh cocopuffs.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:48 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the answers, guys. It's too bad if it means having to restrict their area, one of his companions likes to do a "NASCAR loop" a couple of times a day, zipping through the rooms. She won't like not being able to do that when she chooses. This poop-foot thing just began a couple of weeks ago so maybe it'll go away too.
posted by Salmonberry at 10:24 AM on February 7, 2011

Since you didn't mention it is he fixed? Although spraying is a more common behavior, it's possible he's reacting in some way to the other rabbits.
posted by tommasz at 12:29 PM on February 7, 2011

Yep, he's fixed. They're all fixed. I've had him for about a year and the poop-foot issue has been the past two weeks.
posted by Salmonberry at 1:32 PM on February 7, 2011

Are you positive that it is poop on his foot? If they are cecals, they will smell bad, very bad. Dry balls of poop smushed on his fur should be obvious as well.

Does it appear after a certain time? My suspicion is that it is not poop at all but somehow your rabbit has gotten into something he shouldn't be getting into which is what is leaving the mark. What other poop-resembling things might be accessible to him? Brown paint perhaps?

I cannot imagine how a bunny would be able to have poop smeared on his foot in the same place every time.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2011

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