Droppings, Scat & Feces Introduction
Droppings, feces, and scat, found in isolation of other sign, can be extremely difficult to identify. Simple changes in an animal's diet can dramatically change the color, shape and contents of feces making it difficult to determine the source of the droppings without scientific equipment.
Feces identification, also known as scat, can be a difficult task as feces change according to the animal's diet. However, by asking the right questions you can go a long way to reduce the number of available suspects.
Be safe! Droppings are dirty and full of germs. Avoid handling droppings without proper protection, which includes avoiding inhaling around it. Some diseases may contracted through dust borne particles.
Look, more than touch!! If you have to touch, use a tool and/or properly gloved hands!! STAY UP WIND!!
Tips to help you identify scat
- Determine its size both in length and width.
- Identify its form:
Is there one dropping or multiple?
If droppings are multiple, are they in a pile or scattered about?
Can you identify any hair or food particles in the droppings? Sometimes corn, berries, seeds, and insect wings aren't completely digested.
What time of day do you find the droppings? Would they have been left at night or during the day?
Is it a one time event or does it occur in the same general spot for several days?
What state are you in and what type of habitat is present where you reside? (ie. woods, urban, suburban, agricultural etc.)
- Is it round like a pellet?
- Is it tubular?
- Are the ends flat or pointed, or is one end flat and the other pointed?
- Is it smooth from one end to the other? Or is it segmented like a natural fibered rope?
By answering these questions, you will really help us to identify the droppings.
Questions that rarely help identify feces:
- Color: color is a result of the animal's diet which can easily change.
- Consistency: generally speaking the softer the feces the fresher it is. Also sometimes animals get diarhea or constipation.