Dictionary > Coprophagia

Coprophagia

Definition
noun
The eating of feces
Supplement
Coprophagia refers to the eating of feces or excrement. It is also referred to as coprophagy. Etymologically, the term is a combination of the words copros (meaning feces) and phagein (meaning to eat). The eating of feces may also include the eating of the feces of other individuals or other species. The consumption of one’s own excrement is referred to as autocoprophagy whereas the eating of others is called allocoprophagy.
Humans eating excrement are often associated with mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia and pica). Pica is a psychological disorder characterized by having an appetite for non-food materials (e.g. hair, paper, soap, soil, and feces). Humans are mostly repulsed by feces not only because of the odor but also because they can make humans sick. Feces have bacteria (e.g. coliform bacteria) that when consumed often cause diseases and diarrhea.
In other animals, coprophagy is a normal behavior. Rabbits and hares, for instance, eat their feces as a way to digest more efficiently a plant-based diet. Dung beetle, fly, and termites are examples of coprophagous insects. Termites feed on one another’s feces to obtain symbionts (hindgut protists, e.g. genus Pseudotrichonympha) that help them digest the cellulose component of wood.
Word origin: copro– (“feces”) +‎ –phagy (“to feed on”)
Synonym(s):

  • rhypophagy
  • scatophagy
  • coprophagy

See also:

  • feces
  • Related form(s):

    • coprophagous (adjective, of, pertaining to, or relating to coprophagy)


    You will also like...

    Chemical composition of the body
    Chemical Composition of the Body

    The body is comprised of different elements with hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen as the major four. This tutorial..

    Mātauranga Māori and Science Collaboration
    Mātauranga Māori and Science

    Mātauranga Māori is the living knowledge system of the indigenous people of New Zealand, including the relationships t..

    Still freshwater and plants
    Still Freshwater & Plants

    Plants in lentic habitats have features not found in terrestrial plants. They acquired these features as they adapt to t..

    Pink Lotus plant on a pond
    Freshwater Lentic Communities & Animals

    This tutorial looks at some of the communities in freshwater lentic habitats. For instance, symbiosis occurs in a commun..

    3D rendering of an antibody
    Passive and Active Types of Immunity

    Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell capable of producing a specific immune response to unique antigens. In thi..

    Still Water Animals
    Still Water Animals

    Animals living in aquatic habitats have diversified and evolved through time. They eventually occupy ecological niches a..