Saturday, July 8, 2017

Before you adopt: Pets Poop!

WARNING: This blog post is about poop.  Read at your own risk of being grossed out! 
2ND WARNING: No, really! It's just poop!

Today we are discussing a rather…sticky subject.  That’s right.  This is a Poop post. 

When we think about getting a pet there are MANY different things to consider.  How big do they get? How much space do they need? How long do they live? Is anyone in the house allergic? And so much more.  BUT (pun intended) we can’t forget that most basic of routine care needs; poop clean up. 

Everyone poops.  How we have to clean up that poop, and how often we have to clean up that poop, is one of the less fun aspects of pet ownership.  This post will hopefully start to give you an idea of what to expect, poop-wise, from your next pet. 

We can break down poop cleanup by how ‘up close and personal’ it is.  From this standpoint, dog poop is definitely the most direct poop contact a pet owner will get.  Dogs poop every day (at least), and the tried and true method of clean up is to put your hand in a plastic bag and…pick up the poop.  Hand-bag-poop.  A very personal experience.  And of course, bigger dogs have bigger poops.  Chihuahua clean up and Great Dane clean up are whole different experiences.

Cat poop is a bit more tidy, for the most part.  Cats poop in special boxes, and we fill the boxes with sand to help cover the poop and the poop smell.  Scooping a litterbox is a step more removed from that direct poop-in-the-hand dog experience, but when you scoop a litterbox you also have to deal with cat pee (though fortunately it also gets disguised in the litter for a reduced ick-factor).  You also have to consider that the cat poops in the house, and that smell…well, is also in the house.    

[Normally I would put an image here, but...eww...]

Rabbit poop is a bit unique.  Rabbits actually have two types of poop; the regular round firm poops, and a second, softer, less digested poop (cecotropes) which they eat (yes, that is super gross).  The good news is that in a healthy rabbit you should only see the regular round firm poops, and those poops are pretty easy to discard.  As a bonus, many rabbits can be trained to use a litterbox, so clean up can be pretty well consolidated.  However, rabbits tend to poop all day (and eat all day), so a rabbit hopping around the house will definitely be leaving some poop around. 

Our smaller mammals (hamsters, rats, mice, etc), will generally require a full cage cleaning regularly for poop maintenance.  The poops are small and discrete, but because of that we just need to clean up everything at once.  These poops are definitely less immediately gross than dogs or cats, but regularly replacing bedding can be a chore itself. 

Bird droppings are very different from mammal poops, but they are bountiful.  Birds leave droppings quite indiscriminately, so along with changing the bottom of the cage regularly you will also need to clean perches, water dishes, toys, and even the bars of the cage.  Who hasn’t heard of someone being pooped on by a bird while walking outside? Bird droppings get EVERYWHERE. 

Lizards mostly fall into a similar category as our small mammals in terms of full-cage clean ups.  Snakes however have a slower poop cycle.  Essentially most animals operate on a system where each time they eat, they also poop.  Since adult snakes don’t always eat every day, they don’t always poop every day! Definitely less poop clean up in the snake world.    

So there you have it; the ‘ins-and-outs’ (so to speak!) of pet poop.  Now of course there is so much more to selecting a pet than poop, but (ha! again!) poop is important!
Thank you for reading!

-Dr. Chuck


  1. I read that a one hump camel makes an one hump poop and a two hump camel makes a two hump poop. Is this correct?

    1. Great question! This is a commonly believed myth. Camels actually poop in pellets, sort of like really big rabbit poops, or slightly smaller horse poops. Thanks for asking!