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. Coprophagy refers to many kind of feces eating including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy), those once deposited or taken directly from the anus.
[Hirakawa, H. 2001. " Coprophagy in leporids and other mammalian herbivores" Mammal Review, Volume 31, Number 1, pp. 61-80(20)]
Coprophagia in plants and animals Some carnivorous plants, such as pitcher plants of the genus Nepenthes, obtain nourishment from the feces of commensal 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 common 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. However, domesticated pigs should not be allowed to eat any sort of feces, as this contributes to the risk of parasite infection.
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. Consuming these cecotropes is important for adequate nutritional intake of Vitamin B12. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten.
Young elephants, pandas, koalas, and hippos eat the feces of their mother or other animals in the herd to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation found on the savanna and in the jungle. [http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/adaptations/Coprophagia] 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, guinea pigs 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.
Cat mothers are known to eat the feces of their newborn kittens during the very earliest phase after birth, presumably to eliminate cues to potential predators and to keep the den clean.
Both domesticated and wild mammals are known to consume feces. In the wild they either bury or eat waste to protect their trail from predators. In species of cats, the dominant feline openly displays feces. In domesticated mammals, choosing not to offend the dominant owner, they eat or more prominently bury waste.
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.
- Dogs are, by nature, scavengers, and this might be within the range of scavenger behavior.
- Dogs might want attention from their caretakers.
- They might have anxiety or stress.
- To clean up in crowded surroundings
- They had been punished for having defecated in the past, and attempt to clean up out of fear of being punished again.
- They may be trying to prevent the scent from attracting predators.
- The texture and temperature of fresh feces approximates that of regurgitated food, which is how mothers in the wild provide solid food to their pups.
- Feces (particularly cat feces) contain protein; overfeeding can also increase the quantity of undigested matter in the feces.
- The coprophagia may be due to assorted health problems, including:
- Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
- Intestinal infections
- Food allergies, leading to malabsorption
- The dogs might be hungry, such as when eating routines are changed, food is withheld, or nutrients are not properly absorbed.
- Carnivores may sometimes eat or roll in the feces of their prey to ingest and exude scents that mask their own.
Some veterinarians recommend adding pineapple 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 human beings
Sexual aspects Some coprophiles engage in this practice. Psychologists using the classification system of the DSM-IV would consider this a symptom of the paraphilia called coprophilia "if the behavior, sexual urges, or fantasies cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning". Coprophagia is also depicted in pornography, usually under the term scat (from scatology).
Medical aspects Centuries ago, physicians used to taste their patients' excretions, to better judge their state and condition.
[notes to The Works of Francis Rabelais, Volume II, Volume 2, p.56]
Fecal bacteriotherapy is when feces from a close relative or spouse are given to patients suffering from intractable diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile. The purpose is to repopulate the intestines with the normal gut flora (intestinal bacteria) to decimate the clostridium. The healthy stool is administered by nasogastric tube, enema, or in a capsule.
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."
[. 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.]
From the psychiatry literature, coprophagia has been observed in a small number of patients with schizophrenia,
depression, and pica.
In literature *Francois Rabelais, in his classic Gargantua and Pantagruel, often employs the expression mâche-merde or mâchemerde, meaning shit-chewer. It is in turn a citation of the Greek comedians Aristophanes and particularly Menander, which often use the term skatophagos (σκατοϕάγος).
[Rabelais, Book 1, ch.40 and Book 3 chap. 25] In one dialogue, Rabelais speaks of coprophagia as a Christian gesture, saying that monks swallow the shit of the world, that is the sins, and for this they are ostracized by society. [Rabelais, Book 1, ch.40 quote: "ilz mangent la merde du monde, c'est à dire, les pechez"]
- Thomas Pynchon's award winning novel Gravitys Rainbow, contains a very detailed scene of coprophagia.
[Thomas Pynchon (1973) ]Gravity's Rainbow'', Part 2, episode 4.
- In the novel Jurassic Park, Procompsognathus (i.e. "compys") consume the excrement of sauropods and in doing so help keep the park clean.
[Procompsognathus at the Jurassic Park Wiki]
- The 120 Days of Sodom, a novel by the Marquis de Sade, is replete with detailed descriptions of erotic sadomasochistic coprophagia.
[le Marquis de Sade (1785) Les 120 journées de Sodome, ou L'École du Libertinage]
See also*Coprophilous fungi
- King County, Washington, Animal Control Section. "Eating His Own or Other Animal Feces."
- [http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/31/Coprophagia-Eating-Feces.aspx Coprophagia in Dogs (ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist)]
- Why Does My Dog Eat Feces? - Theresa A. Fuess, Ph.D, College of Vet Medicine
- Coprophagia: Effective Treatment for Dogs Eating Feces
- Coprophagia in the Canine - Erik Hofmeister; Melinda Cumming, DVM PhD; Cheryl Dhein, DVM, MS, DACVIM; Douglas Island Veterinary Service; detailed preliminary results of study of behavior and prevention in dogs
- Rat care guide
- Break.com - Video of Coprophagia by a Gorilla
- [http://goinside.com/99/4/food.html Yesterday's Food Will Become Tomorrow's Food] Dr David Ryde MB BS FRCP
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: ro » Coprofagie
Translation: ru » Копрофагия
Translation: fi » Koprofagia
Translation: sv » Koprofag
Translation: ta » மலமுண்ணல்
Translation: uk » Копрофаги
Alphabetical Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 07/03/2014 - 12:40pm Friday 07th March 2014 This article contains content from Wikipedia and is released under GNU FDL