Nature Note 96: Who Goes There? Scat I.D.

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Nature Note

Who Goes There? Scat I.D.

Scat card page 1 from NH Fish and Game Dept.

Scat is worth looking at! Scat, or animal droppings, are marvelous bundles of poop that can reveal what the animal has been eating, and where it has been foraging or hunting. Study scat throughout the year and you’ll notice that each animal’s droppings change in texture based on what it eats during each season. Get to know animal scat and you’ll know who goes there. Scat’s shape, size, and content are species specific. Look around for other signs the animal may have left behind such as tracks (footprints), fur or feathers, shed antlers or skin, and scrapes or scent marks.

To get started, carry a magnifying glass. Many cell phones have a magnifier feature as well as great camera features that will help you look at and record the scat you find. Keep your hands clean! Do not touch scat with your bare hands because the germs in scat can be harmful. 

Scat identification card from the NH Fish and Game Department.

If you want to dissect the scat wear rubber or latex gloves and use tweezers to pull apart the scat to reveal the inner sections. Scientists dissect and study scat carefully to determine an animal’s overall health, about its diet, and extract DNA to learn about the animal's heredity.

Click on the scat card to download a PDF courtesy of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. Learn more about some of these animals in Maine at the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department links below.  

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