Why do animals eat poop?

Probably not because it tastes good, although that's subjective. National Geographic asked several scientists for the straight dope on coprophagy.

Apparently, animals know that scat contains undigested food. And with dogs, they learned it from their mothers.


Nursing females will lick their puppies in the area of the perineal region, under the tail, which stimulates small secretions of urine and feces. These are immediately cleaned up by the mother "the only way she knows how," (says Tufts University veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman.)

"She doesn't have opposable thumbs and tissues. She can't pick it up and throw it out, so she just licks it up and disposes of it that way," Dodman says. It doesn't make mom sick, he says, noting that puppy feces contains "friendly bacteria."

Why Do Animals—Including Your Dog—Eat Poop? (National Geographic)