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  • Hi, this is Emily, from MinuteEarth.

  • Humans eat lots of weird stuff, but one thing we almost never eat is poop,

  • either because we're naturally grossed out by it, or because we've learned that poop contains nasty pathogens.

  • But for lots of animals, feces is a regular part of the menu.

  • That's partly because poop isn't necessarily as dangerous as we think.

  • While poops from sick individuals can contain disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasitesand contaminate anything they touch

  • healthy poops are usually just water, harmless bacteria, undigested food, and some metabolic waste and dead cells.

  • Poison control centers consider accidental ingestion of poop, human or otherwise, to be minimally toxic.

  • And doctors even prescribe poop pills from healthy people to combat hard-to-treat gut infections.

  • And because the digestive process doesn't usually manage to suck all the nutrients out of food, poop is nutritious.

  • Herbivores, for example, leave a third of food nutrients in their poop.

  • As a result, animals like dung beetles and flies subsist almost entirely on nutrients from the poop of other animals.

  • And for thousands of years, humans have built toilets over pigsties because pigs can get almost all of their nutrition from human poop.

  • And while some dogs will snarf down pretty much any poop they come across,

  • lots of dogs will actually use their keen noses to sniff out fresh poop that has specific vitamins or enzymes they're craving.

  • And some animals regularly extract leftover nutrients from their own poop.

  • For example, when gorillas feed on the hard seeds of the Dialium tree,

  • their gut bacteria soften the tough seeds but don't extract many nutrients.

  • So when times are tough, gorillas will often eat their excrement to extract the seeds' full complement of fat and sodium.

  • And when the southern cassowary eats cassowary plums,

  • the fruits are so big and the bird's digestive tract is so short that the cassowary poops out whole chunks of the fruit;

  • it then turns around and picks them out to eat, and digest, again.

  • Other animals absolutely have to eat their own poop.

  • For example, rabbits eat lots of the same foods that ruminants like cows do,

  • but while cows have long, complex digestive tracts that give the microbes inside time to break down the tough plant cells,

  • rabbits have much shorter guts.

  • So, after a yummy plant meal, they poop a soft mucus-covered cluster that contains the partially digested food and the microbes in charge of digesting it.

  • Then they gobble the whole package back up in order to recover the nutrients and bring the microbes back into their guts.

  • Finally, the rabbit poops real rabbit poop.

  • Koalas, too, must eat their own poop.

  • Or at least their own mom's poop.

  • They have a specialized diet of eucalyptus leaves,

  • which are both fibrous and toxic, and koala babies aren't born with the specialized bacteria needed to break it down.

  • So for several weeks, the baby just eats pap:

  • a soft, green poop chock-full of those bacteria that the mom makes special for her little one.

  • Pap both supplies nutrients and gives the baby the microbes it needs to digest its future food.

  • As baby food goes, this number 2 is second to none.

  • Feeding your baby poop is a pretty strange strategy.

  • But feeding your baby to a predator is an even stranger one.

  • When a quokka mom gets cornered, she sometimes ejects a helpless joey from her pouch and runs the other way.

  • And this actually sort of makes sense, she has a spare!

Hi, this is Emily, from MinuteEarth.

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