Following the Animal Trail… The Scoop on Poop!

This past week I found myself feeling restless. It had been much too windy lately to work outdoors, so I spent my time keeping busy inside the house.  Baking and cooking seemed appealing.  I found, however, that while I worked away in the kitchen, I would, invariably, catch myself gazing out the large picture window above the kitchen sink, longingly wishing I was “out there” instead of inside the house.

One of many narrow and well-traveled animal paths in the woodlands.
One of many narrow and well-traveled animal paths in the woodlands.

When the weekend arrived Saturday morning, I was glad to see the wind was not blowing as hard as it had been.  I decided to head out with my camera and see what was going on in the woodlands. Taking my usual path through the neighboring pecan orchard, I stepped over the barbed-wire fence and onto the animal trail that headed west to the old river channel. Perhaps I would run across Daisy deer, or maybe, with the breeze out of the south, she would catch my scent and come to me. Mostly, I wanted to walk a distance and sit quietly, hopefully getting a good photograph or two of area wildlife.

Over the years of clearing paths in our own woodland area, I found it common to make discoveries about the animals that frequented our ten acres of land. FD was quite knowledgeable about identifying tracks and prints, and could easily identify scat (droppings, feces, dirt, excrement) of various animal species. Sometimes it was apparent to him that a specific feces might have been left by the male or female of the species. He seemed to be able to spot an area where a deer might have been bedding down just moments before. He would notice browse that had been nibbled on earlier in the day… and, somehow, could tell if it had been bitten off a week ago.  For FD, the type of gnawing or bite, and the height at which the vegetation was cut, indicated what species might have feasted there.  He often located runs and hidey-holes that animals used, tucked away under the canopy of shrubs or scrubby trees of the woodlands. And sometimes, he found treasures of bones and skulls resting atop the ground or partially buried in the thickets or near a lay.  Over time, FD taught me to decipher tracks and signs of animal or bird presence.  This was a much bigger world than I could ever imagine.  Trails and various animal prints were only the tip of the iceberg.

While picking pecans this year, I found lots of wild hog scat in the area. Evidently, the squirrels have some competition over pecan nuts!
While picking pecans this year, I found lots of wild hog scat in the area. Evidently, the squirrels have some competition over pecan nuts!

This particular Saturday, I headed down a narrow, and well-traveled animal trail leading directly west along an old fence line.  I did not have to travel far before I noticed freshly rooted soil.  Wild hogs have been feeding in the pecan orchard this year.  Apparently, they enjoy eating the golden-meated nuts, as evidenced by the large, tubular clumps of hog feces I encountered while picking pecans in the orchard a few weeks ago. Today, I saw the same feces, appearing dry and almost powdery.  This indicated to me, the hogs had not been in this area for a while. Perhaps they had their fill of pecans and were rooting around elsewhere along the river in search of other good eats.

Our neighbors that own the pecan orchard, now have cattle grazing in the pasture that joins the orchard.  Because of this, I had to keep my eyes open, being careful not to step in the occasional cow pie along the way.  As a child, I learned fairly quickly that the dry-looking exterior of a cow patty could be quite misleading. When it came to bovine piles of poop, the pile might look dry and safe to tread on but,  often, a greenish, fermenting, glob of slimy goo lay beneath.  This green slime was impossible to remove from shoes or any clothing, not to mention being “slick as snot” and quite a fall hazard if one was unfortunate enough to step foot on the slippery mass of dung!  I am quite sure the cow patties that pioneer folks used as burning material for stoves had to have been the very aged and dry “cured” version.

This is the type of cow pie one wants to steer clear of. The dry top is misleading, as a fermenting glob of slimy goo lays beneath!
This is the type of cow pie one wants to steer clear of. The dry top is misleading, as a fermenting glob of slimy goo lays beneath!

Working my way through and around downed trees and timber along the old river channel, I stopped to sit for a spell on a large fallen tree that had been struck by lightning years ago.  The bark-stripped trunk was smooth from aging in the elements over the years, and a black streak of charred wood ran along the side. I marveled at the blackened pattern as I sat on the large, downed tree.  At one end, lay a pile of something red and berry-like. On closer inspection, I determined the pile was raccoon scat.  A broken pecan shell lay just in front of the droppings.  Until this discovery, I had no idea raccoons ate pecans!

A lone hawk circling high in the sky above me.
A lone hawk circling high in the sky above me.

Moving to the center of the downed tree, I sat quietly for about thirty minutes.  But only a lone hawk showed up to perch high in a tree nearby. So, not seeing any other animals or birds of interest to photograph, I moved on after a time, into the thicker brush and trees along the old, dry river channel. The water used to flow freely here, meandering through the nearby city park. But, during flooding that occurred nearly a decade ago, the river re-routed itself, cutting a new channel another half-mile west.  I did not, however, plan to walk to the new river channel today.  I simply wanted to follow a few well-traveled animal paths in closer proximity to the ten-acre ranch to see if I could detect anything interesting going on.

Just then, as a sign to resist following the new river channel further to the west, I noticed the familiar blaze orange color of Daisy deer’s collar lying ahead of me, dropped in a pile of downed Hackberry tree limbs.  I picked up the reflective collar and noted its tattered and ripped condition and that there was little for me to salvage from it.  Apparently, the collar had survived lots of scrapes, rips and weathering before weakening at an area where the Velcro joined the duct tape.  As I studied the collar’s condition, I noted that it had, at least, performed the function it was designed for – protecting Daisy during deer hunting season. Given that I had just seen Daisy at the corn feeder the previous Saturday with both collars on, it was obvious now that, within the week, she had lost the larger, reflective collar within a quarter-mile of our home.  She should still be wearing a narrow, snap collar that was blaze orange, but not reflective.  In time, that collar will likely come off as well, after enduring months of wear, tear and standing up to the elements of nature.

On closer inspection of this pile of cow excrement I noticed these strange yellow insects. Apparently, they are attracted to cow pies!
On closer inspection of this pile of cow excrement I noticed these strange yellow insects. Apparently, they are attracted to cow pies!

Not too far away from Daisy’s old collar, in a scattered pile on the ground, were the familiar pellet-type feces of Daisy and her kind.  Just a few steps beyond that, I could see another pile of pellets.  Daisy and her friends had likely spent an afternoon bedded down in the soft spring grasses nearby, hidden in the heavily wooded area.  These deer pellets were just a couple of days old.

In the winter, raccoon scat contains many berries and berry seeds.
In the winter, raccoon scat contains many berries and berry seeds.

I continued to follow the well-traveled animal path I was on, while noting all sorts of little arteries and trails off the main path.  One such route produced a small, dry, tubular fox dropping.  It consisted mostly of hair.  I often find this particular scat  along the pathways in our woods, and even in our front yard.  We see gray foxes almost every evening and early morning along these pathways.  Often, I see the foxes in front of the house when I let my little dogs out to do their business just before bedtime. Many times, Zoe, Bear and Tori will have noses to the ground, inspecting the interesting deposits left behind by the foxes.  Like dogs, they too mark their area, by leaving their own urine and droppings nearby.

Heading back to the feeding area just below the slope to our house, I noticed a lone set of hoof prints passing under the barbed-wire fence to the corn feeder and then to the water bucket.   The hoof prints moved back to the feeder, then on to the animal trail and back in to the pecan orchard.  Daisy must have come to feed in the night or early morning hours. These prints were fairly fresh.

I also saw tiny bird prints near the feeder tray on the ground, and bird droppings around the water tub. In addition to these, a collection of Dove droppings lay under the large branch of a Hackberry tree.  Apparently, the limb had provided a resting spot for a couple of doves that roosted the night before. Along with the bird droppings, squirrels had left scratch marks along fallen tree trunks and scattered pecan shells lay all around.  I discovered small paw prints of, perhaps, a feral cat near the water tub and along the trail back to the food plot FD had planted for Daisy deer and her friends.  Further back in our woods, I located a strange set of prints in the red dirt along a narrow animal trail that disappeared into an old, abandoned culvert.  I later researched my findings and decided these were either skunk or opossum prints.  And of course, the paw prints of either wild or domestic dogs, or perhaps coyotes, prevailed all through the woods and along the pathways.

These are not blueberries! Deer pellets are found in piles and do not smell! Sometimes if a deer eats a lot of greens, the pellets may form in a clump.
These are not blueberries! Deer pellets are found in piles and do not smell! Sometimes if a deer eats a lot of greens, the pellets may form in a clump.

All around, I found signs and indications that wildlife flourishes in this small woodland, where it is easy to discover paw or hoof prints, a tuft of hair caught in barbed wire fence, or skeletal remains laying askew in the tall prairie grasses. These are the obvious indicators of life and death, but I still find it a bit comical that I catch myself investigating a pile of poop, and wondering what critter might have left its mark in the woods.  I might even carefully pick it apart, looking for clues about diet, size of the animal, and indication of the age of the scat. Oddly, there is purpose and a sort of “fingerprint” to scat in the animal world, and I consider any clue I find in it a treasure if it helps to bring about understanding.

The tapered ends of fox scat often connect with two or three sections. On our property, we tend to find these droppings in the same locations each week.
The tapered ends of fox scat often connect with two or three sections. On our property, we tend to find these droppings in the same locations each week.

So the next time you discover droppings on a hike or a walk, or while doing a little gardening, stop and observe it closely. You never know what secrets might be revealed by such a find, now that you have the scoop on poop!

© Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


63 thoughts on “Following the Animal Trail… The Scoop on Poop!

  1. Who would have thought a post about animal droppings would be so entertaining. One day when the topic of animal droppings appears on jeopardy i will be able to say “What is deer pellets?” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha ha!! I never thought of that – interesting comment! But then, just a few years ago, I didn’t expect to be interested in animal droppings at all! Daisy deer brought a new perspective on nature and wildlife!

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  2. I have often considered the origins and consistency of scat. One of the most amazing things I have learned in my observations was that butterflies love the stuff! I was totally grossed about it, but have since learned that they frequent the stuff for the moisture and salts contained in the fresh leavings. I say GAAACK! But apparently they say Mmmm-mmm-GOOD!
    (I will watch with interest to see how others react to this topic. 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know Lynda! I was a bit hesitant to write about it, simply because we humans seem to have issues with the grotesqueness of scat. But truly, as humans, feces is an indication of the quality of our health. We just don’t like to talk about it. For wildlife, it is an important indicator in tracking animals, what species are present, and what they might be eating during different seasons. It certainly helped us with Daisy deer, knowing what kinds of vegetation and browse she frequented, and as a young fawn, certainly how to change her diet if she were to get the scours.

      I did not know this about butterflies… and I have always been interested in butterflies!! Amazing what nature can show us!

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  3. Has to be one of the best poopy stories I’ve read. Your poop knowledge far exceeds mine as I can recognize deer pellets unless there are goats nearby (they look the same to me); add dog, cat, and cowpies and that is the extent of my poop knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Margaret, I have read two of Tom Brown’s books on tracking and they are excellent! I’m quite sure we would enjoy hiking together! It’s always so interesting what each of us is attracted to in nature and even more fascinating the little tidbits of knowledge we share with others. Isn’t it just awesome to be so involved in nature?

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    1. Great question! I have never run into a wild hog or a group of them on a hike in the woods, and I don’t carry a firearm with me so I always keep an eye open for a tree I could climb. I also carry my cell phone just in case! Yes, they can be dangerous, especially if it’s a sow with piglets. Most of the time, they are like most other wildlife, fearing humans and making tracks to get away from them. Still, I’m careful to keep an eye open for an escape just in case!

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  4. So you know for a fact that Daisy is OK and going about her regular business with her friends?
    Ha! Just realized, considering today’s topic there could be two meanings to the phrase “regular business”. 🙂
    Anyway… fun read and I do hope your Daisy is healthy and well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Phil! We saw Daisy at the corn feeder on February 9th. A wild doe was with her so I didn’t get to pet her and look her over. She seemed to be in great shape. I have seen hoof prints down there this past week, so I assume it was her. She’s always enjoyed nibbling corn and the high-protein deer feed we keep down below the slope. Thanks for asking about Daisy… I’ll try to update on her throughout the spring.

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  5. I get the feeling that your racoons are a log like our possums! Our possums eat EVERYTHING (at least once 😉 ). They deposit their dung all over the place and their urine is distinct and makes Earl twitch. We have tiny dung flies that find any undetected dog pies and turn them into dust in a matter of days. Isn’t it amazing how much of our natural world revolves around the rear end deposits of animals?! ;). We tend to find wallaby, rabbit and possum scat on our property but we occasionally note a blackberry stained bird deposit. You certainly have a much wider representation of wildlife in your local area. Glad to see someone else out there has an interest in ALL things natural, not just selective bits. I would imagine that as the possums and wallabies have been grazing on my vegetable patch, that their dung would be good to add to the compost heap and indeed is good to fertilise the ancient soils of Serendipity Farm! Everything… EVERYTHING has it’s good and bad points 😉

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    1. Yes, everything has a purpose, and we do try to be critter-friendly and share some of the fruit and vegetables… but some species can certainly become pests! We wondered if Daisy’s old pen would be well fertilized since her droppings were tilled in the soil last year. I really didn’t feel the deer pellets were as effective as the seasoned chicken droppings were the year before. I think some droppings make better fertilizer than others. I’ve never really researched that. All I know is, chicken droppings make awesome fertilizer (aged a year first though!).

      We have dung beetles here too, that transform droppings into dirt in just a few hours. Little miracle workers. I like the work those little fellows do… but I don’t think I’d want to BE one of them!

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      1. Chicken manure has the highest nitrogen aside from guano (bird dung that has composted for centuries) so it’s always best but can burn things if you use it too fresh. Horse manure is what the Italians use in their gardens (and they are the soil masters). Cow and sheep are good slow release soil bulk builders because of the amount of hay/grass in their manure that adds to the cation exchange capacity of the soil. Manure is the bomb! 😉 (Well, for we horticulturalists it is 😉 )

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        1. We season our chicken manure about a year before using it. It’s the most awesome fertilizer I’ve come across. My Sissy in Dallas always makes a trip here in early spring to take home a few bags for her city garden. Chicken manure ROCKS for sure!! Thanks for the info… I think you guys know a lot more about horticulture than I do!!

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          1. Horticulture is our passion and what we have studied for the past 4 years. We love trees especially, and have collected a lot of rare and interesting conifers. We plan on planting them all out on our 4 acres along with a food forest (I am sure the possums will be in awe of that! 😉 ). Rabbit manure is a pretty good sub for chook poo apparently. Permaculturalists and Homesteaders who try to live off their own land all tend to keep both chooks and rabbits for eggs and meat (chooks) and meat and fertiliser (rabbits). Aquaponics (small ponds with fish in linked to hydroponic veggie gardens) seem to also be the way to go but at the moment we are concentrating on the food forest and stocking up with seed for herbs and understory plants. Its certainly an adventure and our constant battle with the wildlife never lets it be boring ;). We saw 3 large grey kangaroos right up next to the house yesterday. Wallabies are small things but these guys were quite large. The local bushfires have wreaked havoc with their natural food for this time of year and all of the undergrowth has been burned away. Not so bad for the trees because a lot of Aussie trees are adapted to actually needing bushfires and their incredibly tough seed pods will only break open for that kind of heat. The undergrowth and grass are what the bigger kangaroos need and so they are starting to head into populated areas. These 3 are tag teaming on the perimeters of my veggie garden and managed to push the netting in and pinch half of my spinach and silverbeet leaves! I guess they are very hungry but not that hungry that they aren’t selective ;). Living close to the land gives you so much more in your life. I know that you feel/know that too and you dung post showed me just how much. Only another true knowledge hunter would be so interested in what other animals leave behind ;). I love fungi and spend hours hunting and photographing it. Same deal… it tends to live off those deposits ;). Have a wonderful weekend and keep sharing about all of that gorgeous nature that you live amongst 🙂

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  6. What a wonderful post to read whilst eating cake! 😉

    It is a wonderful post though – I like being able to see if I can guess what species droppings belong to when I’m out and about. They can tell you an amazing amount of information.

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    1. Oh my goodness, Rachel! You crack me up! Sorry about the timing with the cake… I hope it wasn’t chocolate!!! Ha ha!!

      I’m thrilled to know I’m not the only observer of scat out there! It really does give us a lot of insight about the animals and birds who frequent our paths, and offers a lot of information about their eating habits.

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  7. Hi Lori, and informative and entertaining item. I really liked it and learned some things from your photos. Thanks! Gail in CT.

    P.S. Another 2-day storm with big wind and either rain or snow or both coming to CT on Sat & Sunday. It’s time to hold onto our hats and pray (HARD) for rain, not snow.

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    1. Hi Gail! You seem to have the worst luck this year with weather… and it’s just February! I’ll be praying for you AND sending a lot of positive energy your way! Goodness, have you even bailed out from the last snow storm?

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I wasn’t sure what the response would be, but it’s been fun and interesting. I think there are a lot of nature lovers out there who are curious about EVERYTHING nature has to offer!

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  8. Loved hearing about all the different types of poo you can identify, Lori. I’ve been known to dig around in scat on my walks too, but just to see what was in it. I don’t really know how to identify many animals by it, except for deer and geese. I’m sure you’ll laugh to hear that I paid GREAT attention to animal scat while hiking in Alaska — especially fresh BEAR droppings!
    I was worried at first when I read that you found Daisy’s collar, but am reassured that you seem to think she’s ok. I sure hope so.
    I can’t wait until Michigan weather warms up enough for me to spend some time investigating the poop in our yard too. In the past week alone we’ve seen skunk, opossum, rabbits, deer, and a cat. (I’m ALL too familiar with feline scat from the litter box.) And I’m just itching to get back to work on my birding paths in our woods. Alas, we still have snow on the ground and temps in the 20s. Phooey!

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    1. Oh, you also reminded me of that scene in Jurassic Park where the girl sticks her entire arm in a pile of Triceratops scat to see what’s in it — remember that? I’m glad we don’t have to encounter poop the size of an SUV, aren’t you?!

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      1. I had completely forgotten about that Jurassic Park scene! I would be using a shovel or some kind of probing device… not my arm!!

        I’m sure you’re eyes were peeled for bear scat the entire trip in Alaska!! I think I would be too, actually. I’m ready for warmer weather also, though I’m better off than you are.

        It’s been a week since I’ve seen deer tracks down below, but that’s not uncommon for Daisy these days. I always hope to get a glimpse of her, even if it’s from a distance. It’s been such a worry, but I try to think positive and be happy for this time in her life. If she’s a mother to be, she needs to be with the wild ones where she’s got a little protection, and getting more alert and conditioned to being a wild deer. She should still have one plastic, snap collar on. That will help. I’m not sure we’ll manage to get another collar on her though. We had a terrible time when she lost the last one. She doesn’t like them. Can’t say I blame her.

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    1. Thank you Paulette! I wish those darned cow patties were dry and powdery! I had to really look out while I was walking through that area of the woods! I’m not sure there is much of a calling in life for a poop inspector, but by golly, I have a little experience under my belt!

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  9. It’s interesting that your sightings could just as well have been Texas hill country – deer, hogs, raccoon, and so on. One that I can identify from its droppings is the armadillo – also raccoon, deer and nutria. And squirrels – although I’m more aware of that because I had one around the house.

    I think I may have found some bobcat scat a couple of weeks ago. The prints were there – I need to do a little research before I head back into that territory.

    Great post!

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    1. Wow! Thanks for sharing that! I have no idea what armadillo, or nutria scat looks like! I haven’t seen a bobcat’s droppings either but I might be able to tell, since it’s in the cat family. We do see an old bobcat at the feeders every once in a while, looking for an easy bird to pick off at the water tub. We do not have nutria around here that I know of, and I guess we should be glad. I hear they can be quite invasive. And, we raised Frosty the squirrel so we too are familiar with little squirrel pellets.

      It really is interesting to note so much about scat. I’m very glad I wrote this post now! I was a little worried how it might be taken. I guess I was being silly to worry!!

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  10. What an enlightening post; that’s more knowledge on poop than I would have figured out (ever) on my own, LOL. I definitely know when a stray dog has been in our yard, and like anyone, I can identify kitty poop, but that’s about the extent of my excrement knowledge. And as for those wild hogs, I’m thinking I’d need something more to rely on than my ability to climb a nearby tree; but then you ARE in far better shape than me :-). BTW, glad to hear you are still getting glimpses of Miss Daisy from time to time; what a wonderful and rewarding treat!

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    1. Aw, Baby Sister, you make me laugh about the wild hog dash for the trees! I can just hear you scream and see the panic in your eyes! I should explain… I look for trees with a low crotch or low limbs so that I can easily climb. Gosh, there’s no way I could actually CLIMB a tree, but you never know what abilities adrenaline will allow! Then there is always Plan B: Run like hell!! Hopefully, I’ll never have to worry about it.

      It’s always a wonderful feeling to see my Daisy girl. I miss her so much these days, but am comforted to know she’s making her way with a real herd. She is living as she should be.

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  11. When I was in junior high school (high school? can’t remember) and my sister was away at college, she sent me a photocopied page from a chemistry textbook. Normally, parts of compounds were indicated by an “R” – like, say, R-O-O-R, in which the important thing in this example was the two oxygen molecules. Well, in this case, the normal R was replaced by a “P”. She thought it was a hoot and sent to me the page from her book with an entire discussion of covalent bonds and other garbage, all to do with P-O-O-P.

    Anyway, I was excited to read of signs of Daisy Deer having visited closeby. I wonder if she’s disappointed to come back home and not find any of her people out at the moment.

    Have a marvelous weekend, Lori.

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    1. How funny about P-O-O-P chemistry! I have a confession to make, Sid. I still keep the back door open and watch for Daisy all throughout the day. It’s been tough not seeing her daily like I used to. I’m always hopeful I’ll catch her at the feeder. I think she is feeding in the wee hours of the morning before we get up for the day. That’s when the herds have always been active in the past. Sometimes we have seen them all down just after dark in the evening. If we see her, we can’t go to her because the rest of the herd runs off and she does too, wanting to stay with them. She has seen me a couple of times… just doesn’t come to me and she is never alone anymore. Maybe when I’m outdoors more in the spring, she will smell my scent and come to see me up top of the canyon. I think she will. I don’t think she will ever forget us.

      Thanks Sid, you have a wonderful weekend yourself! We’re expecting a winter storm. How exciting!!

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  12. Excellent and informative post as always. I’ve followed your blog for quite some while now but recently started a new blog myself. I needed a fresh start so Paco and I let the Beech Creek Project go and started up Singletrack State of Mind. It’s always nice to hear Daisy Deer is still about and checking on her ‘mother’. 🙂 Take care and hope the recent winter weather didn’t cause too much trouble.

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    1. Well, hello!! I wondered what happened to you. I’ll be sure to get hooked up with your new blog and catch up on reading. Yes, Daisy is doing well as far as we know. I found fresh deer tracks about her size down at the feeder this morning so she’s been back. We don’t see tracks often, or her, but we hear from other people that have seen her, or we spot her feeding towards evening in a nearby wheat pasture. She’s usually with a small herd of 5 or 6 does. One neighbor spotted her with a young buck a while back. So, she’s finding all sorts of companionship! YAY! I’m happy for her.

      Winter has been mild here. I think Monday will bring us a nasty winter storm. I see where you are getting some good moisture in your part of the state. We can use a lot more water, that’s for sure!

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  13. This post makes me miss my thesis work!! I would wander in the woods of the Illinois Driftless Area…ahhhhhh loved it! My thesis was on bobcats, not wandering around in the woods. 😉 I LOVED looking for and finding animals tracks and scat while I worked! Great post!

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    1. How exciting to do a thesis on bobcats! They are rarely seen, though we have many in this area of Oklahoma. We see a very old one come to feed every now and then. In a flash, he’s gone though. I’ve never been able to photograph him. Thanks for sharing!!

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  14. Lori, This is a very interesting and entertaining post. Being knowledgeable about scats is essential
    in wildlife research. Sometimes scats are the only way researchers know rare or shy animals are present in an area.

    I like the way some enterprising people are making paper from sheep and elephant poo which contains a high proportion of undigested vegetation.

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    1. Margaret, I’d never even heard of this paper from poo project! How interesting. I am quite surprised at the response on this post, and the facts I’ve learned from others about scat. I think this paper making from poo tops everything though!

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    1. Oooh, what a find, Kat! I don’t think we have wolves around here, and if we do, I’m sure it would be played down. We are aware of mountain lions in the area, but the State Wildlife Dept, seems to make light of it. I would imagine wolf scat would be similar to coyote, only larger. It’s all a “treasure” to me! There is always something to discover, something we can learn!

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  15. So envious you can wander outside – not a sidewalk in sight.
    We took Molly down a wetlands trail Sunday and were surprised to find so many clear deer tracks in the sand right down to the bay (there’s a north wind which blows water out of some areas so you can walk where normally there’s water). A few raccoons also made the trip from the county park into the temporarily available land.I’m always surprised how many people walk right past/over tracks and never see them.
    Enjoyed this read!

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    1. Thanks!! Wetlands are cool to walk through… so much to see IF you look for it! I agree with you that most people don’t notice tracks, droppings, hair, feathers, etc. that show presence of all sorts of wildlife. I bet the raccoon’s were looking for some easy fishing grounds!!

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! We see a lot of hawks around here, but mostly Red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks. Mostly, we see them in the early mornings and evening. They are beautiful!

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  16. Do you know what nutria scat looks like? We have droppings all over our front walk and now even on the porch… it’s about an inch long by 3/8″ wide pellet shapped.
    Is there any way to discourage them from getting so close to the house? Btw we live in town but near ponds.
    Thanks – I enjoyed your blog on animal droppings

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    1. I am not familiar with nutria, Val. We don’t have them here in Oklahoma (thank goodness!). Does your state or region have a wildlife conservation office or department? Usually, they can be helpful with varmints and information on how to control or deter them. We occasionally have trouble on the back porch with raccoons because we keep deer feed back there. Often, I’ve had to store the feed inside the house for a season to get rid of the coons. One night I observed two gray foxes playing on the patio furniture on the back porch. We’re so close to the woods that we see a lot of action close to the house!

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  17. Hi, i don’t ever check this dummy email, so if you respond, please use jumpoffjoe AT roguelinkdsl dot com. 🙂

    I live on a large acreage in Oregon, with several acres of old growth, which we manage as a wildlife sanctuary. I am always trying to figure out what critters leave their calling cards on the trails, or on the big rock outcrops along the stream.

    Today, in my YARD, someone left a pile of scat that is size and shape of what I think is fox shit, but rather than the normal black color, this has the texture and color of coyote shit. It’s grey, appears to be almost pure mouse fur, and has three clumps, semi connected to each other, tapered at one end of each clump. It’s about 1/2″ in diameter-much smaller than any coyote scat i’ve seen in the past.

    Down in the wildlife preserve, the foxes almost always poop on top of various rocks, right in the middle of the trails. This time, in my yard, the critter left his sign right on top of a little three foot wide concrete arch bridge over a fake creek.

    Any ideas? Is it possible to post a picture, so someone with more knowledge than I (not hard!) could id it?

    Love your site-great stories!

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    1. Hi Malcolm. You know this post on “the scoop on poop” is the most read blog post I’ve ever published. Evidently, there are many of us out there who are intrigued by scat! The scat you describe sounds like fox poop. I’ve seen it in all sorts of color from black, to grey, to brown, and mostly a olive green hue. Most of the time it’s much smaller than coyote or wild dog, and the ends are tapered. As you saw, it can be in connected clumps, with tapering. And you are very observant! Foxes leave their scat out in the open, on trails, driveways, rocks – in plain sight! We have one that urinates each morning right in front of the house. My dogs go crazy each morning, each marking over the spot!

      If you’d like to send the photo of the scat in question, you may send it to my email; littlesundog@gmail.com. I’ll take a look or have FD check it out! Thanks for such an interesting comment! ~Lori

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  18. Wow, getting an email alert for this posting has brought back memories of the big poop discussions of February and March 2013. With my memory, it helps to review some past material and keep it “FRESH” in my mind. Bad joke intended!

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    1. This particular post gets traffic every day, though most do not comment. It is the #1 post visited on my blog each year. People are busy discovering and observing wild animal scat. I find that highly interesting.

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  19. One of the best “poop” stories I have seen – and read! Would never have imagined something “shitty” could be entertaining. I keep wondering, however, how you can write so much. Awesome, really!
    By the way, back home in rural India, cow and buffalo excrement, mixed with hay, is shaped into cakes, pasted on walls, dried and used as fuel for cooking etc. In spite of all the modernisation and technology, this is still the preferred fuel in most rural communities.

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    1. Cow “patties” were used for fuel here too, in the late 1800’s into the early 1900’s. And do you know, this poop post is the most popular read on my blog? I’m just flabbergasted! I guess people are interested in investigating the types of scat they find around their homes or perhaps on trails. Thanks for such an entertaining comment, my friend!!

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  20. Hi. Great story and I am glad I found it. I have a question. I have an urban raccoon leaving berry scat on the rocks of my fishpond almost every night now (August). The berries look like blueberries but have a large tan nut inside. Do you have any idea what kind of berry that could be? I would like to track down the source. My block is a rectangle one mile long and about 800 ft. wide. The long strip down the center is pretty wild and overgrown but right in the middle of a pretty developed urban area. I can’t figure out where these berries are coming from.

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    1. Hi Byron! I am always surprised that of all my blog posts, this one gets the most attention! It’s cool that people investigate scat! I don’t know what your vine looks like but here in Oklahoma the Wild Grape Vine also known as Canyon Grape Vine, is rampant out here and grows along fence lines and up trees. It puts off a berry that is first green, then it’s pink or deep pink as it begins to ripen, and eventually becomes purple and then dark purple or almost black. It does have a large seed inside. Not sure if that is what you have or not. When I am researching for blog posts, I do a general description of the item I’m looking for and then Oklahoma… so “wild berry vines of Oklahoma or large patterned brown moths of Oklahoma”. Usually, I can look at images and spot exactly what I’m looking for.

      I hope Mr. Raccoon has not managed any fish? I no longer have a fish pond for that very reason! Ha ha! Thanks for commenting!

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  21. Hi Again, My hunt was successful! Mr. Raccoon has been eating the berries from a couple of wild cherry trees in the rear of mine and my neighbors property. Received seven bee stings on my left leg for my effort. Stood right on top of the hive! And yes, bees sting in the dark. Also, it looks like I am down three fish.

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    1. Oh dear! My hushband, FD, had a similar experience with red wasps a few weeks ago. We often don’t pay attention to what is right in front of us! Gads… I hope you’ll heal soon! I wondered if you had fish. When I lived in town we had the same problem with raccoons. Thankfully, my fish survived the ordeal!

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