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Coprophagia


Coprophagia is the consumption of feces, from the Greek κόπρος copros ("feces") and φαγεῖν phagein ("to eat"). Many animal species practice coprophagia as a matter of course; other species do not normally consume feces but may do so under unusual conditions.

Coprophagia in animals

Coprophagous insects consume and redigest the feces of large animals. These feces contain substantial amounts of semi-digested food (herbivores' digestive systems are especially inefficient). The most notable feces-eating insect is the dung-beetle and the most ubiquitous is the fly.

Pigs, like the above insects, will eat the feces of herbivores that leave a significant amount of semi-digested matter. In certain cultures, it was common for poor families to collect horse feces to feed their pigs. Pigs are also known to eat their own feces and even human feces as well. However, domesticated pigs should not be allowed to eat any sort of feces, as this contributes to the risk of parasite infection. Perhaps for reasons associated with pigs' ready coprophagy, pork was scripturally banned as human food first in the Old Testament and then the Qur'an. Practicing Jews, Seventh Day Adventists and Muslims familiar with this behavior by pigs may cite it as an additional important reason why pork should not be eaten.
Capybara, rabbits, hamsters and other related species do not have a complex ruminant digestive system. Instead they extract more nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut. Soft fecal pellets of partially digested food are excreted and generally consumed immediately. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten.

Young elephants, pandas, koalas, and hippos eat the feces of their mother to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation found on the savanna and in the jungle. When they are born, their intestines do not contain these bacteria (they are completely sterile). Without them, they would be unable to obtain any nutritional value from plants.
Gorillas eat their own feces and the feces of other gorillas. Similar behavior has also been observed among Chimpanzees. Such behavior may serve to improve absorption of vitamins or of nutritive elements made available from the re-ingestion of seeds.
Hamsters and chinchillas eat their own droppings, which are thought to be a source of vitamins B and K, produced by bacteria in the gut. Apes have been observed eating horse feces for the salt content. Monkeys have been observed eating elephant feces. Coprophagia also has been observed in the naked mole rat.

Coprophagia in dogs

Coprophagia is a behavior often observed in dogs. Hofmeister, Cumming, and Dhein (2001) wrote that this behavior in dogs has not been well-researched and prepared a study. Accessed November 17, 2005. In a preliminary paper, they write that there are various hypotheses for this behavior in canines, although none have been proven: Another hypothesis is that dogs want to investigate the diet of their opponents and get more acquainted with their smell.

Some veterinarians recommend adding meat tenderizer to dog food, as this makes the feces taste excessively bad to dogs. Several companies produce food additives that can also be added to the animal's food to make feces taste bad. Often, these food additives will contain Capsicum Oleoresin, which gives off a repugnant odor making the fecal matter undesirable to the dog.

Coprophagia in humans

Sexual aspects

Coprophagia is uncommon in humans. A subset of coprophiles engage in this practice. Psychologists using the classification system of the DSM-IV would consider this to be a symptom of the paraphilia known as coprophilia. Coprophagia is also sometimes depicted in pornography, usually under the term "scat".

Medical aspects

From the medical literature, coprophagia has been observed in a small number of patients with schizophrenia, PMID 16721701 depression, PMID 8789509 and pica. PMID 11001006
Consuming other people's feces carries the risk of contracting diseases and bacteria spread through fecal matter, such as E. coli, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, pneumonia, polio, and influenza. Coprophagia also carries a risk of contracting intestinal parasites.

Lewin (2001) reports that "... consumption of fresh, warm camel feces has been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery; its efficacy (probably attributable to the antibiotic subtilisin from Bacillus subtilis) was confirmed by German soldiers in Africa during World War II." PMID 11600805. The quotation was found by Google Scholar here. The introduction of foreign bacteria into the human GI tract via infusion of fecal enemas is, moreover, an established medical practice in cases of ulcerative colitis, especially where the patient's own intestinal flora has been significantly depleted by antibiotic therapy applied for other maladies. Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis Using Fecal Bacteriotherapy.

Cultural aspects

*Kopi Luwak is a coffee made from coffee beans that have been ingested and excreted by the Asian Palm Civet.


Translation: br » Kaoc'hdebrerezh Translation: ca » Coprofàgia Translation: cs » Koprofágie Translation: de » Koprophagie Translation: et » Koprofaag Translation: es » Coprofagia Translation: eo » Koprofagio Translation: fr » Coprophagie Translation: id » Coprophagia Translation: it » Coprofagia Translation: lt » Koprofagija Translation: hu » Koprofágia Translation: ms » Koprofagia Translation: nl » Coprofagie Translation: no » Coprophagia Translation: pl » Koprofagia Translation: pt » Coprofagia Translation: ru » Копрофагия

Translation: fi » Koprofagia Translation: sv » Koprofag


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20/08/2014 - 18:29pm    Wednesday 20th August 2014   This article contains content from Wikipedia and is released under GNU FDL