Scat - but from what?

Can you tell what animal left the scat? Roll your mouse over the image for the answer or scroll down below.

Photo 1: The scat has wing coverings from beetles and other large insect parts. We broke the scat apart and it is pictured left.


Photo 2: This scat is loaded with small clear wings. The animal(s) that left this scat eats small flying insects.



Photo 1: Woodhouse's Toad

Photo 2: Little Brown Bat

Note: The Can You Guess It?? photo was from Photo 1: Woodhouse's Toad

Whether you are tracking an animal while out hiking with your family or trying to figure out what type of animal is visiting your backyard, make sure you consider more than footprints. Take note of any food left behind by the animal, look for scat, tail marks, claw marks, burrows-tunnels-trails through the yard.

Scat (animal excrement) can tell us a lot of information about an animal. You can figure out the type of animal by the size, shape and consistency of the scat. Scat tells us where an animal has been and what it has been eating. Animals deposit scat where they rest or pause where they feel safe so that tells us we may be able to find the animal there again.

If you decide to examine scat, avoid handling it with your hands. When picking apart scat or pellets use a stick or disposable gloves. When you break apart the scat take note of hulls of seeds, skins of berries, and bits of leaves. This suggests the animal is a vegetarian. Small bones, fur, and feathers appear in the scat of meat eaters. Insect wings and other insect body parts tells you the animal feeds on insects.

Scat tends to dry from the outside in. If it is completely dry, you know the animal passed by some time ago. Moist scat was left more recently. The animal may be near.

Scat that has been broken apart to show what is inside

The scat above (shown as Photo 1: above right) was full of beetle wing coverings and other large insect parts. It is scat from a Woodhouse's Toad ("common" toad)

Resources for More Information:

Photo Credits:

Scat Photos: Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Woodhouse's Toad Photo: Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County

Little Brown Bat Photo - Phil Myers (photographer, copyright_holder), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan

Can You Guess ItThe photo featured in the July 2004 NEBLINE Newsletter
(41 KB Adobe Acrobat printable .pdf file)



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