Science Questions

Are humans the only animal that needs to wipe itsí bottom?

Sun, 14th Feb 2010

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Question

Harry, Brisbane Australia asked:

Are humans the only animal that needs to wipe itsí bottom?

Answer

Helen -   Thatís really a good question actually, do other animals have to keep themselves hygienic in that particular area?  As far as we know, we havenít found any animals that actually have invented a tool for keeping themselves clean in that way.  There maybe jokes about bears and rabbits but they are just jokes.

Chris -   Isnít it called their tongue?

Helen -   Exactly.  I think most animals do actually just keep themselves clean by washing themselves.  You know what cats can do - they've got the clever trick of putting their leg behind their neck and they keep themselves clean that way.  Another thing some people with cats and dogs might have noticed is their pets  doing something called "scooting", which is dragging their ass across the ground.  Often pet owners get worried about why their dog or cat might be doing this - it is often after theyíve been to the toilet and they wonder if itís something connected to it.

Chris -   They usually wait until theyíve got into the room with the best and the most expensive carpet...

Helen -   Well there are various factors like that to consider.  But veterinary surgeons really think that itís likely to be a parasitic infection, it could be worms, they are feeling very itchy and they want to scratch themselves.  Itís also could be an infection of something that is charmingly called the anal glands which are something many predatory animals have.  Either side of the anus they have these glands which produce scent chemicals.  It is where a skunk produces smell from and itís what makes a fox turd smell like a fox turd and dog turds like a dog turd, and so on.  They use that to mark their territory when they are defecating.  If those get infected they can also be quite painful and thatís why dogs and cats can drag themselves along the ground as well.  And if your pet does seem to be doing that itís probably best to take them to the vet and get that sorted out.

So no, I donít think any animals actually use toilet paper but if they need to they will keep themselves clean in other ways.

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Humans do not need to wipe their bottom, we just choose to as it feels more comfortable to not have too much poo between your bum cheeks, and if you wear clothes, poo can get on them if it's left around unremoved.  So it's a choice not a need,  sorry for being pedantic! JohnCompostCossham, Sun, 27th Feb 2011

While we are on this topic, on researching koalas, I discovered that baby koalas eat their mothers excrement to build their immune system. JnA, Mon, 28th Feb 2011

Coprophagia is actually quite common.  The sort you describe, in herbivores including Koalas, is not connected to their immune system per se, but actually to the establishment of the correct gut flora to enable them to digest the types of plant material the adults ingest.  Koalas only eat Eucalyptus, and there will be fairly specific bacteria which are able to break down these leaves so that the animal can get nutrition out of them. 

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coprophagia for examples of more coprophagia. JohnCompostCossham, Mon, 28th Feb 2011

Thanks john..  now I have a name for it :) JnA, Mon, 28th Feb 2011

Well, its not exactly Andrex, more Macadam Though it could be worse...... Carpet! Don_1, Tue, 1st Mar 2011

Originally nature (God?) made us pefect so we DO NOT NEED toilet paper. Howver humans are the only animals on this planet that deffecate in a COMPLETELY WRONG POSTURE. We are physically made to do the job in SQUAT position, not SITTING on the toilet. That is how it is been since the begining of time. The proof is that even today children instinctively squat to deffecate untill... we teach them to sit on the potty or on the toilet. In squat position the rectum straightens, the puborectal sling is relaxed, the buttocks are set wide apart so the anal opening is free to extend out and expell the waste WITHOUT MESSING YOU UP. paul, Wed, 9th May 2012

Might be true for cats but most animals cant reach their mouth to their anus. Ex. My dog, a hippo, elephant, bears, goats, well jsut about everyone outside felines. jordan, Wed, 20th Aug 2014

When we are eating and hydrating properly, our poop leaves no residue around the anus. Toilet paper is not soiled. No residue......
Trouble is we don't eat properly, fiber-wise, or hydrate enough for the fiber content we should be getting. We also eat too many sugars and that causes an imbalance in gut bacteria and flora that causes us to become loose in our stools, requiring a cleaning of the anus.
Constipation results from too much fiber without enough water and this produces hard stools that one must strain to pass, causing hemorrhoids, diverticulosis and fissures. Too much alcohol will also dehydrate us and create hard stools, but the sugars in wine and beer can also predominate, creating the gut imbalance and diarrhea.  The too hard stools of constipation also leave no residue. A proper poop should pass easily and leave no residue. If this is not what you experience, you need to change your diet and/or hydration. captcass, Sat, 3rd Dec 2016

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