As we learned from the book “Everybody Poops,” pooping is a natural bodily function with the average human pooping 1.2 times a day (1). So what is the average person’s poop composed of? A good chunk of what is in our poop is water – roughly 75 percent. The other portion of human poop consists of microbes (bacteria) and solids (2). The bacteria that are in poop is what makes it smell so bad. Humans often keep themselves entertained on the toilet by connecting and viewing the latest video on Tik Tok while dropping a deuce. You should probably leave your phone out of reach while on the toilet though. A study found that about one in every six smartphones have poop on them (3). Make sure you wash your hands to help contain the spread of the bacteria found in poop.
How do other animals pooping habits compare to humans?
Sloths – Slow Poopers
The metabolic rate of sloths is 162 kilojoules per day per kilogram (4), and they sleep around 15 hours a day in the canopy of the rainforest (5). The sloth’s diet consists of leaves, insects, and twigs from the canopy of the rainforest. With the low metabolic rate of the sloth, they only poop only once a week. They will travel down to the canopy floor to release a poop that can weigh upwards of two pounds. Given the size of a three-toed sloth of just under nine pounds, that’s a lot of poop to their overall body weight that they will lose from one bathroom outing (6).
Pandas – Non-Stop Pooping Machines
The primary diet of pandas consists of bamboo which evolved into their diet about two million years ago. The bamboo that they consume is hard for them to digest and they are only able to digest about 17% of the bamboo that they eat (7). Bamboo doesn’t contain a ton of nutrients so the panda can spend anywhere between 10 to 16 hours a day eating to get all the nutrients it will need out of bamboo (8). With all the bamboo that they eat and the amount of time they spend eating, they can poop up to 40 times in a day! (9). With all that pooping, the company Sichuan Jianwei County Fengsheng Paper Company decided to make a luxury brand of facial tissue out of panda poop (10).
Hippos – Pooping Sprinklers
The hippo is a majestic creature weighing upwards of 6,400 pounds which grazes on the surrounding land of their natural habitat in eastern Africa. When hippos are pooping you want to be sure to be clear of them, since they will spin their tails around like a sprinkler and their poop can spray in all directions in what is known as “muck spreading” (11). In the Mara, a national park in Kenya, hippos will graze during the day and then return to the river to cool down and chill after a big feed. They have been known to poop so much that they deprive the oxygen out of the water for fish with so many hippos in a small stretch of river (12).
Koalas – Poop Eaters
Koalas sleep up to 20 hours a day and can poop while they are sleeping. While they are not sleeping, they munch on gum leaves during the day (13). Koala babies have an unusual diet of feeding on pap aka their mother’s poop. This helps them to get the bacteria into their gut that allows them to digest the diet of eucalyptus leaves as an adult (14). Their main activities consist of sleeping, eating, and being super adorable.
Llamas – Earth Saving Poopers
Llamas have poop that can help save the planet. Researchers in Bolivia have used llama poop to reduce water pollution from mines by turning the acidic water into alkaline (15). Incas in South America have also used llama poop as a fertilizer for dating back to 2700 years ago to help grow maize (16).
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- The seven wonders of poop. Medical News Today (2020). Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324254.
- Ho, Vincent. A lot of your poop is actually alive. Here’s what’s in it. Science Alert (2018). Retrieved from https://www.sciencealert.com/your-poo-is-mostly-alive-here-s-what-s-in-it.
- Song, Sora. Study: 1 in 6 Cell Phones Contaminated With Fecal Matter. Heartland Times (2011). Retrieved from https://healthland.time.com/2011/10/17/study-1-in-6-cell-phones-contaminated-with-fecal-matter/.
- Garcia, Eduardo. It’s Official: Three-Toed Sloths Are the Slowest Mammals on Earth. Scientific American (2016). Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/it-s-official-three-toed-sloths-are-the-slowest-mammals-on-earth
- Bittle, Jason. A sloth risks its life every time it poops. Washington Post (2016). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/21/a-sloth-risks-its-life-every-time-it-poops-watch-the-harrowing-act-for-yourself/
- Three-toed sloths. National Geographic (2020). Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/group/three-toed-sloths/.
- Geggel, Laura. Panda poop reveals that they’re bad at digesting bamboo. CBS News (2015). Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/panda-poop-reveals-theyre-bad-at-digesting-bamboo/.
- Giant pandas. Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Retrieved from https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/giant-panda.
- Top ten facts about pandas. WWF (2020). Retrieved from https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/pandas.
- Zhao, Christina. Panda Poop Is Being Turned Into Facial Tissues and Toilet Paper. Newsweek (2015). Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/tissues-made-panda-feces-food-debris-chengdu-753405.
- River Hippopotamus. Denver Zoo (2020). Retrieved from https://denverzoo.org/animals/river-hippopotamus/.
- Yong, Ed. Hippos poop so much that sometimes all the fish die. The Atlantic (2018). Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/05/hippos-poop-so-much-that-sometimes-all-the-fish-die/560486/
- Interesting Koala Facts. Australia Koala Foundation (2020). Retrieved from https://www.savethekoala.com/about-koalas/interesting-facts.
- Pap feeding: Get the scoop on this super poop. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (2020). Retrieved from https://koala.net/pap-feeding-get-the-scoop-on-this-super-poop.
- Llama dung reduces water pollution. BBC News (2002). Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/1793381.stm.
- Zielinski, Sarah. The Secret to Machu Picchu’s Success: Llama Poop. Smithsonian Magazine (2011). Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-secret-to-machu-picchus-success-llama-poop-178734335/.