Identifying Brown or Black Droppings

WARNING: Droppings are potentially hazardous!

Are the droppings...

Tubular? Pelleted? Globular?
Tubular dropping Pelletd droppings Globular and amorphous droppings


Tubular

If the droppings present are smaller than those of a dog click here.

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

           Left photo compliments of Jennifer Schloth. Note the size of the droppings in comparison to the shovel. Bear droppings can be huge. They can also exhibit a wide variety of colors depending on what the bear is eating.        

Photos on far right is courtesy of Peggy Kinsley.
black bear scat Bear dropping. Photo courtesy of Peggy Kinsley

Coyote (Canis latrans)

            Droppings tend to be several inches long, full of animal hair (particularly in the winter time when fruit is not available) and dark due to the coagulated animal blood of their prey. Droppings will also be frequently located at strategic locations such as cross roads and along trails as coyotes use their droppings to mark territory.        
Coyote scat. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel  
     

Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

Deer can have solid scats also. Typically the pellets will clump to form a solid scat, but the pellets are usually identifiable.


Deer Scat  
Toad

Droppings tend to be found in the same area morning after morning. Droppings will often be found near flood lights as toads will be drawn to the insects attracted to the light.

Insect exoskeletons may be seen in the scat.
Frog dropping Toad dropping

Raccoon  (Procyon lotor)

Droppings tend to be 2-3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide (like a dog's) and are often filled with remnants of what they have been eating lately. For example, if they are eating corn, you will often find corn remnants in the droppings. The same occurs when they are eating fruit etc.

Droppings frequently are found in piles (called latrines or toilettes) on roofs, in attics, in sandboxes, and areas open to the sky.            

            Caution!! Raccoon feces may contain a dangerous roundworm. To learn more about Raccoon roundworm click diseases . Raccoons also defecate in the same location.        
 
Shrews (Family Soricidae)

Droppings are 1/16-inch in diamter and almost a 1/4-inch in length. They are frequently curled and in piles. Odor is quite distinctive.

One clue you have shrews is not being able to catch the "mice" in traps.

Photo courtesy of Nikki Judd. Photo taken in Michigan.
Shrew scat. Courtesy of Nikki Judd.  
     



Pelleted and/or Smaller than Dog Droppings

Bats  (Order Chiroptera)

In this image there is a close up of bat droppings with a penny for scale. Note the white speckles in this fresh guano. Those speckles are the remains of undigested insect wings.
Bats often defecate when leaving the building they are living in. Sometimes you can see droppings caught in spider webs too. Bat droppings will tend to be in piles in the attic below where they roost during the day.

            WARNING: Don't enter attics without wearing proper protection, which includes but is not limited to, HEPA Filter Mask, rugged gloves, long pants, and good lighting. Make sure masks are properly fitted and that you are healthy enough to breath with a mask.        
Bat droppings. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Caterpillars  (Family Limacodidae)

            These tend to be squarish and cubed, but they can be easily confused with bat droppings. Typically found underneath trees.

            This photo is courtesy of Michael Colburn and was taken in California.        
Caterpiller scat. Photo courtesy of Michael Colburn

Cockroaches  (Periplaneta americana)

            Note the 2 small black flecks to the right of the penny. Cockroach droppings can look like pepper sprinkled on the floor.

Photo courtesy of Stephen M. Vantassel        
Cockroach droppings next to a penny. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Deer  (Odocoileus virginianus)

            White-tailed deer droppings are found in piles, much like those of llamas and elk.
Photo courtesy of Stephen M. Vantassel.        
White-tail deer droppings. Photo by Stephen M.Vantassel

Elk  (Cervus elaphus nelsoni)

            Elk droppings occur in piles, the same as done by deer and llamas. Elk droppings are larger than deer droppings. Note the U.S. Nickel in the photo on the left side of the image.        
elk scat

Mice  (Mus musculus)

            Tend to be black (hard when dry) pointed on one end and about 1/4-inch in length. Found in scattered patterns in high traffic areas.        
2 mouse droppings next to a penny. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Flying Squirrels  (Family Sciuridae)

            Note how the droppings appear moist. This photo was taken of the area directly below the attic vent the flying squirrels were using to exit and enter the building.            

            Warning: Never enter an attic without proper protection. Flying Squirrel excrement has been known to contain typhus.    
    
Flying squirrel urine and droppings. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel
Rabbits (Family Lagomorph)

Scat usually found where they are feeding. These brown droppings are due to the excessive amount of bark being consumed (a typical occurrence during a snow filled winter).

Photo courtesy of Stacy Rabinovitz. Photo taken in Maryland.
Cottontail scat. Courtesy of Stacy Rabinovitz 
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