Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Armadillo Poop

Do you have any idea what Armadillo poop looks like? Depending on the species, the age, the size and even the gender of an animal - scat can be varied but there are certain ways to identify who pooped and I'm fairly good at it, but I've never considered Armadillo poop.

A night hike in the western cypress swamps of the Everglades turned up a few interesting piles on Saturday night and a walk across one of the levees that stretches into the Everglades on the east coast from Miami on Monday revealed a few more droppings. Coyotes are making their way into southern Florida and their scat can be identified by the relatively large size of the poop.

This one was about 4 inches long and full of hair and bones. They usually leave it right in the middle of the trail for others to find. Marked with their unique scent - it's essentially a coyote's e-mail - butt mail as it were. That's how they communicate with other coyotes. There are about 400 or so Black Bears in the Big Cypress area of the Everglades (SW corner). They do poop in the woods but also on the trails like this massive pile we found while hiking at night. It probably could have filled my baseball hat. It was full of saw palmetto berries and other vegetation which makes up a good portion of their omnivorous diet.
Otter poop is so unique it gets its own name. They call it spraint and it has a very musky odor. I actually got down on hands and knees to take a whiff, which I don't think is as odd as someone coming up with a word for otter poop. The other easy identifier is the circular bits in the poop. Fish scales. Otters eat crabs and fish for the most part but the fish scales are not digested and get left behind. Fantastic. Another easy way to identify scat is if you actually see it coming out of the animal. Had the Raccoon not just pooped, I might have startled it enough to do so. I was alone on this walk so there is no need to admit that the startled raccoon leaping off the levee into the sawgrass caused any such reaction in me.

This Raccoon scat is full of palmetto and other berries. Nowhere near as much in the pile as the Bear but just as ornate and textured. And then there is the Nine-banded Armadillo. First let me point out that you should pronounce it Arm-uh-dee-yo. Few say it right if you ask me. Next time you go to a Mexican restaurant ask for tor-till-uh chips. You wouldn't. You'd say tor-tee-ya. So say Arm-uh-dee-ya. But I digress.
My hike brought me one and a half miles from pavement where I was the only human being within 3 square miles. Staring down at my GPS - I ambled along and nearly kicked this Armadillo. They have terrible eye sight, horrible hearing and a fairly good sense of smell. When this one was within 2 feet of me - it sniffed the air, snorted and popped a foot in the air before darting off into the scrub. Unlike other Armadillos - the Nine-banded flees as opposed to curling up into a ball.


It surprised me to see it out here. They eat grubs, ants and other insects but this area seemed too desolate of a landscape for the Armadillo to find enough food and yet here it was. I knew there were raccoons and otters out here. I saw their scat. But I hadn't seen any signs of Armadillos and I wondered - "What does Armadillo poop look like?"

11 comments:

  1. Your next quest...In Search of Armadillo Poop!

    This was a really informative post. I have often seen scat where I work, or out in the 'Glades and sometimes I know what it is...but sometimes not. Now I know I can just send you pictures of mystery poop and you can tell me what it came from!!

    You oughtta right a book!

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    1. uhh you just asked my egsact question whats the answere

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  2. I've thought about it. Maybe a pop-up book. Maybe a scratch-n-sniff....

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  3. I believe that a "pop-up" book should be called a "poop-up" book

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  4. nice - and sorry I had to reject the other comment Roger - but you are right - I really do. ;)

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  5. I thought scar was a jazz thing. Actually we had lots of spraint at the Florida Monkey Sanctuary.

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  6. Scar is a Lion King thing. Scat is a jazz thing. And also animal poop.

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  7. Dr. Pete, your interest in animal excrement seems to be a natural extension of your intimate association with monkey dung. I understand perfectly. As the former presidential candidate for the Armadillo Party (1976), I was most interested in your post on armadillo poop. We spread a lot of that around during our campaign, following an honored tradition in American politics. I was hoping to see a photo of some 'dillo doo-doo, but alas, I was disappointed. I hope you find some soon and post a photo. Your idea to publish a scratch-and-sniff book on this subject is nothing less than inspired. Doing a pop-up book is another great idea, although you may want to call it a pop-OUT book or a poop-up book. Keep up the good work!

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  8. Hey guy,
    I enjoyed this.. I have some pictures of what i'd consider to be armadillo poop because i live here in texas and we have tons of dens and trails that id consider to be armadillo..

    I have some pictures, id like to send you via email.. i consider it to be armadillo poop for this reason, they lay flat on the ground, like how a armadillo is "low" it has flys, like some squash seeds etc in it.. if it were racoon id say it wouldnt all be laying "flat"...
    send me email if you are interested.. i am..
    HCWildlifeServices@Gmail.com

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    1. Interested in photos of armadillo scat because our kitties were falsely accused of deficating in the neighbor's yard. Cats don't take dumps on decks... We collected the offending feces and wonder if your photos will I.D. the offender. Please send photo(s) to ghillieman03@yahoo.com. Thanks!

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  9. I would like some photos of Armadillo Poop....Two nights ago I had a close encounter with an armadillo in my front yard...strolling along the porch fence,checking out the bird seed. Next day I found a flat pile of mysterious make up...bright greens and dark browns ...in the back of the house on the top of the step leading down to the pool. There were some long leaves of dried Pampas grass on the sidewalk too as if the animal had been hiding under the edge of the grass in the cool soil...

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