When I first got a rabbit pet, I was horrified when I took her for a walk at the local park only to have her poop a large mound under the trees.
Obviously, I would have to clean it up, but I left my scoop and gloves at home!
Could I safely touch my rabbit’s poop, or would I contract a disease from touching rabbit poop?
What about the dogs at the park who began munching away at the little fluffy rabbit poop balls? Would they get sick? Is rabbit poop toxic to humans or pets?
Rabbit poop is not toxic to humans or animals if your rabbit is healthy. However, if your rabbit has any parasitic infestations or bacterial infections underway, they may pass these along to humans and pets in their poop.
Normal Rabbit Poop and Its Contents
Rabbit poop is nutritionally dense, and it contains large quantities of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, minerals, and micronutrients.
As a manure fertilizer, it’s known as bunny honey.
Rabbit Poop as a Fertilizer
Because it is so nutritionally loaded, rabbit poop is used as a fertilizer.
It’s ideal for vegetable gardens and flower beds. It doesn’t stink, and it composts nicely.
Plus, it isn’t harmful to humans as long as the rabbit is healthy.
The real challenge is that you don’t always know if your rabbit is healthy or not as rabbits don’t display the usual signs when sick.
Only their poop may give you some indication of their health.
Rabbit Poop as Food
Since rabbit poop is such a rich source of essential nutrients, it’s a popular snack with other animals.
Dogs love to snuff bunny poop since it’s so rich in elements like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and copper.
As a dog owner, you may be worried your dog will get sick if they eat rabbit droppings.
For the most part, your dog is perfectly safe from any toxic contamination that rabbit poop from a healthy rabbit may offer.
Types of Rabbit Poop
Domestic and wild rabbits have two kinds of poop: the regular semi-dry round bits that you will find in their litter box or out under the hedges of your local parks, and another kind you will rarely see.
This second kind of poop is known as caecotrophs (or cecotropes), and rabbits make these during the night, eating them at dawn.
Caecotrophs are nutritionally loaded, and rabbits eat these droppings at dawn as they are being made.
If your rabbit misses eating a few of the caecotrophs because they are sick, for example, then these soft and sticky rabbit droppings will be left behind for you to clean up.
Rabbit Poop and Bacteria
Caecotrophs and the regular rabbit poop also contain bacteria and digestive enzymes, which can potentially transfer to your hands if you pick them up.
Should you touch your mouth or handle food without washing your hands, you could transfer the bacteria to your mouth, potentially causing bacterial infections.
The risk of this is minimal though, as rabbit poop is one of the cleanest poop types around.
Your dog may eat rabbit poop, so they can potentially ingest these bacteria, and this could cause a bacterial infection.
Some dogs get a runny tummy from eating rabbit droppings.
While objectionable to humans, other animals consider rabbit poop a source of nutrients. Usually, it is also a safe source for them to eat.
Also read: Are Rabbits Good Pets for Seniors?
Abnormal Rabbit Poop and Disease Spread
When rabbits are sick, their poop is usually the best way to tell because rabbits tend to hide any illness.
Rabbit droppings that are runny or a strange color may show that the rabbit is unwell or that they have contracted a disease.
Droppings from a diseased bunny can also lead to the spread of toxic infections.
Diseases Rabbit Poop Can Spread
Here are some of the diseases that can spread because of rabbit poop
Intestinal Infections Through Bacteria
Bacteria such as Salmonella sp., Escherichia coli, and Clostridium difficile can be found in the droppings of diseased rabbits.
These bacteria can transfer upon direct contact between your mouth and your hands.
When rabbit poop that’s infected with these bacteria enter the water supply, mix with feed for other animals, or are eaten by other animals, it can spread these bacterial infections of the intestines.
Salmonella is an especially contagious bacteria, and even healthy rabbits can carry these bacteria in their stool.
Be sure to handle rabbit poop appropriately to avoid potential infection.
These microscopic parasites can be spread through rabbit urine, but it can rarely also be carried in rabbit stool.
Especially older rabbits that may not be as capable of controlling their bowel functions can spread these parasitic organisms.
People with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to being infected with these encephalitozoonosis parasites, which can further weaken their immune systems.
Cleaning out your rabbit litter box and cage can be a prime opportunity for these organisms to spread to your body via contact.
Wearing gloves and washing your hands are essential safety precautions.
The rabies virus strikes fear into the hearts of us all due to the lethal nature of this nervous system infection.
Since rabbits can contract rabies, their saliva can spread it to humans when your hands make contact with their spit and then you touch your mouth, eyes, or nose.
Rabbit poop may spread rabies if the rabbit has been licking their droppings, especially caecotrophs, and you then touch them.
Touching your eyes, mouth, or an open wound will then complete the infection cycle.
Also read: Does Rabbit Poop Smell?
Rabbit Droppings Toxicity Transmission Cycle
What you should remember about rabbits is that they are very clean animals.
Your little bun may clean their bottom daily, but they also clean their fur all over their body.
When you hold them, you are touching parts of their body that have been licked by the same tongue that cleaned their bottom.
This means rabbit poop’s toxicity can spread onto their fur too.
In addition, kissing your rabbit, which many pet owners do, may spread the same poop toxins to your lips and your mouth.
Remember, your rabbit eats caecotrophs from their bottom each night, and you will be kissing their mouth.
Transmission of rabbit poop toxins happens not only by touching poop. Your whole rabbit can infect you.
It is, therefore, vital to wash your hands when you’ve been handling your rabbit and to avoid touching or kissing their mouth.
How to Handle Rabbit Poop Safely
Since rabbit poop may or may not be toxic (depending on whether the rabbit is healthy), it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Avoiding contamination is better than trying to recover from a nasty infection.
Here are a few safety precautions to follow when handling rabbit poop.
When Cleaning Your Rabbit’s Poop
Litter box cleaning is a daily chore for rabbit owners, and it’s easy to become lax and just scoop out the poop with your hand or forget to wash your hands after.
Take these necessary precautions when handling your rabbit’s poop:
Your hands may have small cuts or scrapes where bacteria can enter your bloodstream, so take care to wear gloves when you clean your rabbit’s cage, hutch, or run.
Take special care with the litter box at cleaning time.
When disposing of rabbit droppings, soiled bedding, or other wastes from your rabbit’s hutch, cage, or run, be sure to bag these.
A plastic packet is an ideal option, and tying the bag shut will ensure the contaminants stay inside.
Dispose of the Waste
Once you have cleaned up and bagged the rabbit’s droppings, be sure to dispose of the waste responsibly.
If you do compost your rabbit’s droppings, be sure you use a closed compost bin to keep your dogs away from the rabbit droppings.
Throw away the disposable gloves, or scrub your rubber gloves with a solution of 50% bleach or any other sanitizing cleaner.
Rinse and carefully remove your gloves, setting them aside in a safe place to dry.
Next, scrub your hands, following a surgical protocol for cleaning your hands. Use a strong disinfectant soap or a 25% solution of bleach to sanitize your hands.
I like to keep a solution of one part bleach to three parts water with a few drops of dishwashing soap in a spray or pump action bottle so I can easily dispense this onto my hands when scrubbing.
Thoroughly soap, scrub, and wash your hands. Rinse well, and dry your hands on a towel that you keep for this purpose only.
When Cleaning up After Your Rabbit Outdoors
My situation at the park was somewhat difficult in that I didn’t have a pair of gloves or a bag with me.
What was I going to do now?
Here are some tips for cleaning up your rabbit’s droppings outside when away from home:
If your rabbit has pooped at the park, use a piece of newspaper to scoop up the droppings, wrap it up in the paper, and dispose of it in the nearest trash receptacle.
Should you have no paper nearby, you can always use a paper cup or disposable food tray to kick the droppings into your shoe.
Dispose of the container and droppings in the trash too.
One good thing about the global pandemic is that we usually carry a 65-70% alcohol-based sanitizer with us.
Sanitizing wipes are also suitable to use. Clean your hands, disposing of the wipes in the trash too.
Avoid Touching Yourself
While you’ve done a pretty good job of cleaning up your hands, it is still advisable to avoid touching your face to stop the spread of any toxins.
Don’t eat or drink anything until you’ve had a chance to thoroughly clean your hands at home.
Clean at Home
Once you are home, use a good quality soap and warm water to scrub your hands and dry with your special rabbit towel.
You are now safe to use your hands and touch your face.
Rabbit Droppings Toxicity FAQs
Is rabbit poop and urine harmful to humans?
While rabbit poop is not generally considered a source of harmful toxins, a sick rabbit may transmit various diseases and bacterial infections via their droppings and urine.
Is it OK to touch rabbit poop?
Touching rabbit droppings can expose your skin to toxins, so it is advised to avoid touching rabbit poop. If you do accidentally touch rabbit droppings, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
Can rabbits make humans sick?
Rabbits are known to carry certain zoonotic diseases such as ringworm, Salmonella, and Encephalitozoonosis. These can be contracted from rabbit poop and urine.
The Final Word
Rabbit poop requires some careful management to prevent the spread of any toxins after contact.
While rabbit poop is mostly safe to handle, care should be taken in case the rabbit has been ill or their poop contains bacteria that are harmful to humans.
For the most part, you can safely pick up rabbit poop, as long as you wash your hands after and before you eat anything or handle food.
This is simply good hygiene, so be safe and scrub up after touching your rabbit’s poop, urine, or body.
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