Animal Scat Notes

Beaver ~ Black Bears ~ Bobcat and Lynx ~ Rabbits and Hares ~ Coyote ~ Fox ~ Fisher ~ Pine Marten ~ Squirrel ~ Grouse ~ Turkey ~ Mt. Lion ~ Mink ~ Muskrats ~ Opossums ~ Otter ~ Porcupines ~ Raccoon ~ Skunks ~ Weasel ~ Whitetail Deer ~ Moose

 

Beaver scat is made up entirely of wood chips. The oval pellets are 1 to 1 1/4 inches in length and 3/4 of an inch in diameter. They would most likely be found in route to or near Beaver chews if found at all since Beavers spend the majority of their time in water.

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Black Bears are omnivorous, their diet consists of animals, nuts, berries, grasses, insects and aquatic life. Evidence of these will show in their scat. Often times bear scat may contain partially undigested parts of only one food source. Their droppings are one of the largest being 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Scat may also appear as a loose pile with no particular shape when they are feeding heavily on berry crops in late summer to early fall.

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Bobcat/Lynx scat are very similar and hard to distinguish between the two. Scat is up to 4 inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter, segmented with blunt ends. Evidence of scratched leaf litter and soil with scat in the scratched out area will indicate cat droppings. Scat may or may not be covered over with leaves or soil.

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Cottontail Rabbit/Snowshoe Hare scat is vary similar in color shape and size, being about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch in diameter. The scat is somewhat rough textured dark to light brown in color. It may be found in a scattered pattern rather than in piles as they defecate one pellet at a time while they continue to move. Scat found in piles would point to a feeding spot where the animal remained stationary.

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Coyote scat may be up to 4 inches long & 3/4 of an inch in diameter. Their scat may contain evidence of hair, bones, fruits & berries. Colors vary from their diet.

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Fox scat is approximately 2 inches long & 1/2 inch in diameter with pointy ends. It may contain hair, bones, insects, berry seeds & undigested fruits. Fox will usually deposit their scat on a prominent object such as a rock, stump or log to mark their territory.

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Fisher scat resembles that of a Mink but has a larger diameter. Scat is brown to black in color & are twisted with tapered ends 3/8 to 5/8 of an inch in diameter & folding over. Fishers are the main predators of Porcupines so evidence of quills in their scat will help in identification.

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Pine Marten scat is brown to black in color 1 1/2 to 2 inches long & up to 3/8 of an inch in diameter. Scat is twisted & tapered resembling that of a mink. Evidence of hair & bone may be present. Martens also feed on berry crops unlike Minks and Weasels and seeds may be present in their scat.

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Gray / Red Squirrel scat is very similar in size, shape and color. Small smooth oval shaped to odd shaped pellets, brown to black in color and 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch in size.

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Grouse scat is brown in color with a whitish end 1 inch in length to 1/4 inch in diameter. Droppings may also be found in the form of a small pile when feeding on succulent plants. Their diet consists of nuts, berries, green leaves and fruit.

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Turkey scat is usually long and slender with lengths up to 3 inches and will have somewhat of a curved appearance. Brown in color with a lighter whitish/green color at the end of the dropping. Food consists of insects, nuts, berries and grain crops.

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Mt. Lion scat can be up to 5 inches in length and 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Segmented with blunt ends evidence of bones and hair will be present. Scratched out areas of leaf litter and soil with droppings in them indicate the cat family. Mt. Lion scat is much larger than that of the Bobcat and Lynx and as well may or may not be covered over with scratchings.

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Mink scat is long and twisted resembling a braided rope, black to light in color with tapered ends and may fold over itself. Evidence of small bones, fur, feathers and fish may be present. Mink leave droppings as signposts on or near rocks, logs and stumps.

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Muskrats are omnivores eating plant matter, fish and crustaceans. Scat can be found on prominent outcroppings in or near the water, on logs, rocks and beaver structures. Their droppings are elongated 3/8 to 5/8 inches long and 1/4 inch in diameter, clustered together in a pile.

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Opossums are omnivores with their diet consisting of insects, fruits, berries, grain crops, small mammals, carrion, birds, and eggs as well as garbage. Their wide range of food does not lend itself to a distinctive scat and is not easily identifiable.

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Otter scat will at most times be found near waterways. Look near outcroppings of rocks in or near the water & partially submerged logs where they consume their prey. Their scat may have no significant shape but is easily identified by the presence of fish bones, scales and pieces of aquatic shellfish. The color varies greatly from the color of fish and crustaceans they consume.

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Porcupines consume bark, twigs and buds of trees. Wood fibers are evident in their scat. Scat may be piles of pellets varying in length from 1/2 to 1 inch long or it may be present in a chainlike pattern connected by wood fibers. Color varies from season to season depending on diet but is usually brown to black.

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Raccoon scat can be found in prominent areas such as the crotch of a tree, on or under rock outcroppings and fallen trees and stumps. Several raccoons may make use of the same site to deposit their droppings. Raccoons are omnivorous eating both plant and animal matter their scat may contain evidence of berries, insects, fruits, fish and shellfish. Their droppings are blunt ended and up to 3/4 of an inch in diameter.

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Skunks are omnivores eating plants, animals and insects. Insects make up the majority of their diet and their presence will be found in their droppings, often times their scat will contain only insect parts. Small bones, hair and plant matter may also be evident at times. Their scat is blunt ended 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter.

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Weasel scat is brown to black in color and will show evidence of bones & hair. Small rodents are the majority of their diet. Scat is twisted, thin and tapered at the ends, 1/8 inch in diameter and 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.

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Whitetail Deer scat is oval in shape, pellet like 1/2 to 5/8 inches in diameter, black in color scattered piles. It may also be found clumped together when their summer & fall diet consists of high moisture foods such as berries, apples & other succulent plants. Their winter scat is lighter in color, consist of mainly woody fibers & is quite hard.

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Moose scat may resemble that of a domestic cow in the months that they feed on succulent plants. They resemble the pellets of the Whitetail but larger, being 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.

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North Woods Field Guides
PO Box 107  Wevertown, NY 12886
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