Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 - The Year in Scat

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

The same can be said for poop in a sense. Call it scat, droppings, excrement, dung, feces, manure, guano. It’s still poop. Calling it sweet might be a stretch.

I’m fascinated by animal scat. Absent of the animal, it tells us who passed by, when they passed by and what they ate. It comes in many telling shapes and sizes and sometimes it’s downright artistic. Here are my favorites in descending order.

10) The armadillo is my holy grail of scat – I know they poop. I’ve just never found any.

9) Most of the time I can make an educated guess. Sometimes it remains a mystery. This large pile was found just north of the Everglades. Coarse black hairs suggest a feral pig was eaten. I’m thinking Florida Panther.

8) Scat names can be species specific. If it came from a bat it’s called guano. In most parts of North America it’s easy to differentiate from rodent droppings of the same size. Bats eat insects with chitinous exoskeletons which do not get completely digested when passed in droppings. Under a bright flashlight the insect pieces sparkle.

7) American Black Bears range all throughout North America and as omnivores, have the luxury of feasting on whatever is on the outdoor buffet. A fresh crop of acorns from the Florida oaks have helped fatten up the bears for winter. A large pile of poop adorned with bits of acorn is the tell tail sign.

6) Turkeys enjoy a wide range of foods as well, including acorns and insects. This lovely arrangement of comma shaped droppings has evidence of an abundance of plant matter.

5) Domestic and wild cats have the good grace to cover up their scats with varying results. This bobcat scrapped some grass together to cover a bone and fur amalgam of poop.

4) Manatees are herbivores that feed on up to 100 lbs of vegetation a day. They’re gassy and they poop a lot. Manatees are rare and endangered and the sea is their toilet bowl. Finding a Manatee scat is a treasure.

3) Insects poop too as evidenced by the droppings from this juvenile Eastern Lubber grasshopper.

2) I believe Shakespeare was referring to otter poop when he noted “all that glitters is not gold”. Otters are from the mustelid family and have droppings that range from sweet smelling to rotten fish. They feast primarily on fish and their scat is uniquely filled with sparkling, undigested fish scales.

1) What do you get when you mix American Beauty Berry with a Raccoon? Art. You’re welcome. Happy New Year. 

2 comments:

  1. Insect droppings are called frass. Just sayin'.

    I watched an otter poop at a distance. Instead of kicking grass and dirt over it like a dog (rear paws in front of the pile) he shoveled stuff on top by moving the hind feet forward toward the pile. When I got up there to look there was a bunch of grass on top of the pile.

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