Recognizing Animals by Scat

Recognizing Animals by Scat
Sometimes it is fun and informative to go for a walk taking time to "see" and not just look when afield. Animals leave signs that most of the time are very faint. The tracks of a soft-footed rabbit are almost impossible to see when the snow melts, yet armed with the right information, you might just figure out who lives in the woodlot next door.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • "What Shat That?: A Pocket Guide to Poop Identity" by Matt Pagett
  • "What Shat That?: A Pocket Guide to Poop Identity" by Matt Pagett
Step 1
Walk along a creek, or around a pond and look for the droppings of the muskrat. They like to crawl up on rocks and logs to do their business. The droppings will be about the size of the end of your thumb and blunt on both ends. They will almost always be on an object sticking up out of the water.
Step 2
Continue walking along old trails, roads and even railroad tracks to find the droppings or scat of the wily fox. The droppings are in a cylinder shape about as big as your finger, with hair or fur sticking out. This is evidence that a rabbit or mouse met its demise.
Step 3
Look on game trails through thicker parts of woodlots for the droppings of the whitetail deer. The scat can be small and in several pieces about the size of raisins, or it could be stuck together to form a plum-sized lump.
Step 4
Go into a big old barn and you might find a pile of droppings under a big beam where a barn owl sits in the night. Owls are creatures of habit and like to sit in the same place, so you might find a pretty good-sized pile. The remains of rats and mice will be evident by the hair and bone fragments.
Step 5
Look in your kitchen cabinets when you get home and you might even find droppings of a little field mouse. They like to come in when it gets cold and leave their sign on shelves and under appliances. The scat looks pointed on both ends and is the size of rice.

Tips & Warnings

 
Investigate the scat to determine if the local critters are vegetarians or carnivores. Look in the droppings for signs of fur and feathers for carnivores. Search for berries, nuts and grass in the scat of vegetarians.
 
Be careful in the summer when snakes and bees are on the prowl as always when in the wild. Don't get too preoccupied with your search that you let down your guard.

Article Written By Dennis Seabright

Denny Seabright has been writing for Trails.com since Nov. of 2008 with most articles being in the "How to" category. Graduating from James Wood High school in 1976 and going straight into the work force left little room for formal education but writing has always been dear to his heart.

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