• Now Available! Buy all 3 books in 1 for only $6.99 and save $2!

    A COMPENDIUM FOR THE DRY GARDEN

  • Koda’s Blog

    Koda matches

  • Recent Posts

  • Tracking Footprints

  • Archives

  • Top Posts

  • Pages

Some Scat

I thought I’d post a scat entry with photos.  Some I’m sure of, many I’m not.  Not all have size references.  Sorry about that.  I’m now starting to carry around a penny which I’ll put with future photos.  A penny is exactly 3/4″ in diameter.

Breaking up scat helps in identification and is a window into what the animal was eating.  Smelling scat (do not smell raccoon scat as they can carry a parasite that is fatal to humans) also holds clues.

Animals communicate vast amounts of information through markings and scat.  Many times I’ve watched Koda intently smell an area, then urinate on it.

Koda with his nose in a squirrel hole

Koda with his nose in a squirrel hole

One time he was smelling a log that had no obvious scat on it.  Because he is still a pup, he started licking the log to ‘uptake’ the smell better.  I got down and smelled the log and was overpowered by a extremely pungent smell.  Other times he spends a lot of time smelling an area and when I put my nose to the ground, I can’t discern anything.

One time in California I was at the tracking club meeting.  We were circling a large field and found mountain lion scat.  The group leader advised everyone to get down and sniff it.  One whiff of that scat and you’ll never forget it.  It made the hairs inside my nose stand on end for a long time.  Imagine your kitty litter box, then multiply that smell 10-fold.

Last year in the spring I had both my dogs with me in Wyoming.  My old dog started making a beeline for the woods.  I followed her to a fairly fresh turkey kill, probably from a coyote.  The kill was in the nearby vicinity of the cabin and the magpies were already on it.  The 2 dogs spent lots of time chewing and further demolishing it. Early the next morning, on the walkway in front of my house, a coyote left his fresh scat.  My old dog smelled it, but before I could hardly look at it, the 6 month old dog gobbled it up.  Koda was still learning about smells and scats, and eating it is another way to really remember it.  (I, personally, will not go that far!)  I had the distinct impression this particular scat was left for my dogs as a calling card, as if to say, ‘this is my territory and that was my turkey you fooled with.’

I’m a crazy beginner at this.  I find it’s a fun way to explore what’s happening around me. Learning scat takes practice and lots of direct experience.  I take photos, then go home and look at Mammal Tracks & Signs by Mark Elbroch.  Elbroch’s book contains tons of color photos throughout.  He includes photos of tracks, scat, as well as sign.  The book is thick at over 750 pages. Too bad he doesn’t include ‘scratch and sniff’.

Unknown scat

This one's unknown, found in the woods nearby

Marmot in hole with scat above

See Marmot scat at top of photo. Marmot's in his hole.

pack rat scat

Years of pack rat scat.

Canid scat

Could be coyote or wolf. 25% of wolf scat is coyote size.

Bobcat I think.  Smells like it.

Smelled like a cat. Bobcat I think. Cat's digest 90% of the bones.

Owl droppings

Owl on tree. Notice the white droppings.

Bear sweet smelling scat in the spring

Big pile of bear scat. All forbs/grasses. They clean themselves in the spring with grass.

Mustelid I think.  Smelly and strong.

Some kind of mustelid I think. It was skunky smelling.

Another mustelid, I think.  On the same trail as the other scat.

Another mustelid, I think. On the same trail as the other scat.

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. Fishers and pine martens often leave finger-sized turds laid out in neat, parallel rows–sometimes on a prominent object and sometimes not. Fox, about the same size, but almost alway in “display mode” on a rock etc.

    Like

  2. Dear Leslie,

    I found your blog when doing a Google search for “owl scat”. Thank you for doing all of the work and research to help people identify various forms of scat 🙂 (very nice).

    With regard to your photo, “Big pile of bear scat…” I am wondering what type of bear you believe it to be from? Reason being, I’ve come across a few piles of bear scat which are much larger than what the photo here depicts – then again the bears may be much larger in my region than in yours. But also, the shape in your bear scat pic is very different from what I’ve seen in bear scat. Usually, I find bear scat to be in more of pile and in much shorter pieces as oppose to the more elongated shape here.

    In closing, I look forward to your reply 🙂

    Sincerely,
    Victoriah

    Like

    • Hi Victoriah, Because of where that scat was, I’m sure it was grizzly, but in general there is no way to tell the difference between black bear and grizzly scat. You have to look for corresponding tracks.

      I’ve now seen lots and lots of bear scat and of course they come in difference sizes and also different looks, depending on what they’ve been eating. Last summer I hiked into an old outfitter campground that bear(s) had been rummaging around in that morning. I found about four piles of fresh scat and wondered why so much in one area at one time.

      I live in the GYE but if you live in Alaska your grizzly bears are much bigger since their nutrition is better and more abundant.

      Bear scat is usually the easiest scat for me to identify. My general experience is that bears don’t seem to use their scat to ‘mark’ but just dump whereever they tend to be, usually in the middle of the trail.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: