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Coprophagia /kɒp.rə.ˈfeɪ.dʒi.ə/ or coprophagy is the consumption of feces, from the Greek κόπρος copros, "feces" and φαγεῖν phagein, "to eat". Many animal species practice coprophagia as a matter of course; other species do not normally consume feces but may do so under unusual conditions. Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces eating including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics),of other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy), those once deposited or taken directly from the anus.
In plants and animals 
Coprophagous insects consume and redigest the feces of large animals. These feces contain substantial amounts of semi-digested food (herbivores' digestive systems are especially inefficient). The most notable feces-eating insect is the dung-beetle and the most common is the fly.
Termites eat one another's feces as a means of obtaining their hindgut protists. Termites and protists have a symbiotic relationship that allows the termites to digest the cellulose in their diet via the protists. It has also been proposed that hormones are passed to offspring in this way.
Pigs, like the above insects, will eat the feces of herbivores that leave a significant amount of semi-digested matter, including their own. In certain cultures it was common for poor families to collect horse feces to feed their pigs. However, allowing domestic pigs to consume feces contributes to the risk of parasite infection. The pig toilet is an ancient method of feeding pigs on garbage and human feces, and is used in China.
Cattle in the United States are often fed chicken litter due to the high amount of protein and low cost of the feed versus other sources of protein. It has been reported that this process is made safe in regards to bacteria loading by heating the chicken litter to 160 °F (71 °C) prior to consumption. There are, however, concerns that the practice of feeding chicken litter to cattle could lead to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad-cow disease) because of the crushed bone meal in chicken feed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates this practice by attempting to prevent the introduction of any part of a cow's brain or spinal cord into livestock feed. Other countries, like Canada, have banned chicken litter for use as a livestock feed.
Capybara, rabbits, hamsters and other related species do not have a complex ruminant digestive system. Instead they are hindgut fermenters that digest cellulose via microbial fermentation. In addition, they extract further nutrition from grass by giving their food a second pass through the gut. Soft fecal pellets of partially digested food are excreted and generally consumed immediately. Consuming these cecotropes is important for adequate nutritional intake of vitamin B12. They also produce normal droppings, which are not eaten.
Young elephants, pandas, koalas, and hippos eat the feces of their mothers or other animals in the herd to obtain the bacteria required to properly digest vegetation found on the savanna and in the jungle. When they are born, their intestines do not contain these bacteria (they are completely sterile). Without them, they would be unable to obtain any nutritional value from plants.
Gorillas eat their own feces and the feces of other gorillas. Similar behavior has also been observed among chimpanzees. Such behavior may serve to improve absorption of vitamins or of nutritive elements made available from the re-ingestion of seeds.
Hamsters, guinea pigs and chinchillas eat their own droppings, which are thought to be a source of vitamins B and K, produced by bacteria in the gut. Apes have been observed eating horse feces for the salt content. Monkeys have been observed eating elephant feces. Coprophagia also has been observed in the naked mole rat.
Both domesticated and wild mammals are known to consume feces. In the wild they either bury or eat waste to protect their trail from predators. In species of cats, the dominant feline openly displays feces. In domesticated mammals, choosing not to offend the dominant owner, they eat or more prominently bury waste.
In human beings 
Medical aspects 
Fecal bacteriotherapy is when feces from a close relative or spouse are given to patients suffering from intractable diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile. The purpose is to repopulate the intestines with the normal gut flora (intestinal bacteria) to decimate the clostridium. The healthy stool is administered by nasogastric tube, enema, or in a capsule.
Consuming other people's feces carries the risk of contracting diseases and bacteria spread through fecal matter, such as E. coli, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis E, pneumonia, polio, and influenza. Coprophagia also carries a risk of contracting intestinal parasites.
Lewin (2001) reports that "... consumption of fresh, warm camel feces has been recommended by Bedouins as a remedy for bacterial dysentery; its efficacy (probably attributable to the antibiotic subtilisin from Bacillus subtilis) was confirmed by German soldiers in Africa during World War II". The introduction of foreign bacteria into the human GI tract via infusion of fecal enemas is, moreover, an established medical practice in cases of ulcerative colitis, especially where the patient's own intestinal flora has been significantly depleted by antibiotic therapy applied for other maladies.
Religious aspects 
During certain religious celebrations, Hindus in India consume beverages containing five ingredients from cows (Panchakavya), including cow feces .
Sexual aspects 
Some coprophiles engage in this practice. Until 1995, the only documented cases of coprophagia were in those who were either schizophrenic or mentally retarded, but it has now been shown to occur among mentally healthy individuals as well. Psychiatrists using the classification system of the DSM-IV would consider this a symptom of the paraphilia called coprophilia "if the behavior, sexual urges, or fantasies cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning". Coprophagia is also depicted in pornography, usually under the term scat (from scatology).
In literature 
- The 120 Days of Sodom, a novel by the Marquis de Sade written in 1785, is replete with detailed descriptions of erotic sadomasochistic coprophagia.
- Samuel R. Delany's novel Hogg, written in 1969, is also replete with detailed descriptions of erotic coprophagia.
- Thomas Pynchon's award winning 1973 novel Gravity's Rainbow contains a very detailed scene of coprophagia.
- François Rabelais, in his classic Gargantua and Pantagruel, often employs the expression mâche-merde or mâchemerde, meaning shit-chewer. It is in turn a citation of the Greek comedians Aristophanes and particularly Menander, which often use the term skatophagos (σκατοϕάγος). In one dialogue, Rabelais speaks of coprophagia as a Christian gesture, saying that monks swallow the shit of the world, that is the sins, and for this they are ostracized by society.
- Consider Phlebas, a novel by Iain M Banks, contains depictions of a tribe known as the Eaters, who repeatedly engage in coprophagia.
- Ubu Roi, a comic-absurdist play by Alfred Jarry, contains numerous references to coprophagy/scatology.
In film 
- The third amongst the four acts of Pier Paolo Pasolini's 1975 film Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, a loose adaptation of the Marquis de Sade's aforementioned The 120 Days of Sodom, is concerned with coprophagia.
- Dušan Makavejev's 1974 film Sweet Movie contains a long scene featuring coprophagia.
- 2 Girls 1 Cup; a 2007 scat-fetish pornographic film.
- August Underground; a woman held captive by a pair of serial killers is degraded by being forced to eat her own excrement.
- The Green Elephant; during a psychotic break, one prisoner consumes his own feces.
- The Human Centipede (First Sequence); a mad scientist captures three tourists and surgically connects them mouth to anus, so that two of them are "fed" by the bowel movements of the "segment" whose buttocks their mouth has been attached to.
- The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence); in the sequel to the above, a man copycats the scientist's experiment, but with nearly a dozen victims.
- Unspeakable; when a catatonic woman defecates, a man smears it on her vagina, then performs cunnilingus on her.
- Pink Flamingos; the film ends with Divine eating a dog's freshly laid stool.
- Vase de Noces; a farmer prepares and consumes a meal made of urine and feces, then regurgitates it.
- Bronson; a patient in a mental institution is shown eating his own feces while another character watches in confusion.
In TV series 
- Tsst; in a seventh episode of the tenth season of South Park, the American animated TV series, a nanny Jo Frost from the reality TV program Supernanny, ends up in a psychiatric hospital eating her own feces after her attempt to help Cartman's mom with his son's behavior problems.
- HumancentiPad; in the first episode of the fifteenth season of South Park, Kyle is kidnapped and forced to become part of a "revolutionary new product" for which he and the other two were kidnapped people form the "HUMANCENTiPAD", comprising the three kidnapped subjects on all fours and sewn together mouth to anus (the story-line is based on The Human Centipede).
See also 
- Coprophagia. (2012). Dictionary.com September 2, 2012, from link
- Hirakawa, H. 2001. " Coprophagy in leporids and other mammalian herbivores" Mammal Review, Volume 31, Number 1, pp. 61-80(20)
- FDA Urged to Ban Feeding Chicken Litter to Cattle, 2009-11-02, L.A. Times
- "BBC Nature — Dung eater videos, news and facts". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-27.
- Lewin, Ralph A. (2001). "More on Merde". Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 44 (4): 594–607. doi:10.1353/pbm.2001.0067. PMID 11600805.. The quotation was found by Google Scholar here .
- Treatment of Ulcerative Colitis Using Fecal Bacteriotherapy.
- Harada KI, Yamamoto K, Saito T. (2006). "Effective treatment of coprophagia in a patient with schizophrenia with the novel atypical antipsychotic drug perospirone". Pharmacopsychiatry 39 (3): 113. doi:10.1055/s-2006-941487. PMID 16721701.
- Wise, T.N., and R.L. Goldberg (1995). "Escalation of a fetish: coprophagia in a nonpsychotic adult of normal intelligence". J. Sex Marital Ther. 21 (4): 272–5. doi:10.1080/00926239508414647. PMID 8789509.
- Rose, E.A., Porcerelli, J.H., & Neale, A.V. (2000). "Pica: Common but commonly missed". The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice 13 (5): 353–358. PMID 11001006.
- notes to The Works of Francis Rabelais, Volume II, Volume 2, p. 56
- Crap: A short history
- Wise TN, Goldberg RL (1995). "Escalation of a Fetish: Coprophagia in a Nonpsychotic Adult of Normal Intelligence". Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 21 (4): 272–75. doi:10.1080/00926239508414647.
- Holmes, Ronald M. Sex Crimes: Patterns and Behavior. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications. pp. p. 244. ISBN 0-7619-2417-5. OCLC 47893709.
- le Marquis de Sade (1785) Les 120 journées de Sodome, ou L'École du Libertinage
- Thomas Pynchon (1973) Gravity's Rainbow, Part 2, episode 4.
- Rabelais, Book 1, ch. 40 and Book 3 chap. 25
- Rabelais, Book 1, ch. 40 quote: "ilz mangent la merde du monde, c'est à dire, les pechez"
- Ubu Roi
- King County, Washington, Animal Control Section. "Eating His Own or Other Animal Feces."
- Coprophagia in Dogs (ASPCA's Virtual Pet Behaviorist)
- Why Does My Dog Eat Feces? - Theresa A. Fuess, Ph.D, College of Vet Medicine
- Coprophagia: Effective Treatment for Dogs Eating Feces
- Coprophagia in the Canine - Erik Hofmeister; Melinda Cumming, DVM PhD; Cheryl Dhein, DVM, MS, DACVIM; Douglas Island Veterinary Service; detailed preliminary results of study of behavior and prevention in dogs
- Break.com - Video of Coprophagia by a Gorilla
- Yesterday's Food Will Become Tomorrow's Food Dr David Ryde MB BS FRCP