Can You Identify the Animal from Its Scat? (poo)

ANIMALS

Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Jeff R Clow/Moment/Getty Images

About This Quiz

You're in the woods and you come across a big pile of poo. No big deal right? Unless it was left just moments ago by a ferocious grizzly or mountain lion! Learning to recognize animals by their waste is a useful skill for hunters, wilderness lovers and those looking to learn more about the natural world.

Believe it or not, all poo is not created equally. It can vary in the form it takes, the size and shape, the color and odor, and what it's made up of. Some scat is small and compact, while others are large and loose. Some are tubular, while others are round. Scat can be textured differently and even filled with undigested food items, like berries, bones and wood fibers.

By understanding the types of scat left by different animals, you can keep yourself safe while out hiking or camping. Hunters use this useful skill to track an animal and determine which creatures might have been in an area -- and how long ago they may have left. Even simple homeowners who steer clear of nature might find scat identification useful for figuring out which pests are hanging out in the attic, or chowing down on the plants in the garden.

Ready to put your scat spotting skills to the test? Take this quiz to see how many animals you can recognize only by their droppings!

Which animal left this scat?

Hunting for deer or determining whether these creatures have invaded your property is made much easier if you can spot their scat. The whitetail deer produces oblong pellets that vary from between half and three-quarters of an inch long. They often have points or nipple-like protrusions at one end. Deer poo is about the size of the tip of your little finger, so if you're seeing much larger pellets, they probably come from an elk or a moose.

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Can you guess which animal left this behind?

A single pile of scat from a black bear can weigh a whopping one pound or more! Because these piles of poo can take varying forms depending on the time of year and what the bear happened to eat, size is usually the best way to identify this animal's scat.

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What animal do you think produced this waste?

Coyotes often use their waste to mark their territory, so don't be surprised to see coyote droppings at crossroads or trail crossings. The poo this creature produces is tubular and around an inch in diameter. It's usually peppered with bones or fur from undigested prey, and may include some grass -- which the coyote uses to cleanse its digestive tract.

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Which of these creatures produced the scat you see here?

Raccoons produce tubular droppings similar to those left by dogs. They are roughly three-quarters of an inch in diameter, and the tips are often rounded or broken off. Beware of raccoon poo, as it can transmit parasites like roundworm to humans.

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Can you pick the creature that left this evidence?

Bat droppings look a lot like the scat left by mice. Both are round pellets which are black in color and left in small piles. To tell the difference between the two, you may have to don gloves and check out the texture. Mouse poo will stay relatively cohesive when squashed, while bat droppings are drier and more likely to crumble.

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Name the animal whose scat looks like this.

Beavers often leave their waste at the edge of the water. Their scat is easy to identify because it is full of wood chips and wood fibers, which also makes it very hard and dry. Beaver scat is 1.5 to 2.5 inches long and comes in the form of a tube or cylinder.

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Think you know which animal created this poo?

Canada goose poop is a pretty big problem in some areas. These critters drop a load a few times an hour, and can produce a pound and a half of poo per day! It takes the form of green, white or brown tubes, and usually builds up into fairly substantial piles when geese are present.

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Can you name the animal that left this scat?

Like coyotes, foxes use scat to mark their territory, so it's often left out in the open rather than hidden. The average fox poo is around two inches long and a half inch in diameter. It may be full of hair, bones and other bits of prey that these carnivores were unable to digest.

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Which of these critters produces a poo like this one?

Moose scat looks a lot like deer scat but it's much larger. Moose produce black pellets that may be pointed at one end. While deer pellets are around the same size as the tip of a human pinkie, moose pellets are closer to the size of the tip of a human thumb.

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Know which critter this poo came from?

Porcupines like to chow on twigs and tree bark, so their scat is full of telltale wood fibers. It takes the form of piles of pellets, which may be joined together into chains or separated into single pellets.

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Think you can match this scat to an animal?

Rabbits produce small round pellets that are about the same size and color as peppercorns. They are hard and dense, and tend to look like the pellets left behind by deer, but are much smaller.

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Which of these creatures produced this poo?

Toads tend to leave their droppings in approximately the same spot every day, so if you're seeing a familiar pile of scat each day, it could come from this creature. Toads produce sausage-shaped waste which is surprisingly large -- it can be up to a quarter of the length of its body!

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Guess which of these animals left the poo you see here.

Snake droppings range from about half an inch to several feet long depending on the size of the snake. It looks like bird waste, but is brown or black, rather than white and may include hair, bone and scales from the snake's prey.

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What animal's droppings look like this?

Elk droppings consist of piles of oval-shaped black pellets. They are sized between the scat of a deer and that of a moose, with each pellet measuring about the same as the tip of a human adult's middle finger.

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Which animal produced the droppings you see here?

Rat poo consists of brown or black pellets around half an inch long. It looks very similar to mouse droppings, but each pellet is longer and wider than that produced by a mouse.

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Can you guess which animal left this behind?

Mouse droppings are tiny black pellets that are typically scattered rather than piled. They look similar to grains of rice, and are black. Mouse pellets can be anywhere from an eighth to a quarter of an inch long.

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Do you know which animal made this poo?

If you spend a lot of time in the woods, it's a good idea to know what bobcat scat looks like so you can steer clear of these creatures. Their waste is segmented and around three-quarters of an inch in diameter. They often attempt to hide these droppings under piles of leaves or dirt rather than leaving it exposed.

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What animal's droppings look like this?

Badger waste has a powerful odor, even compared to other types of poo. It consists of segmented, twisted piles, with most sections measuring just under half an inch in diameter.

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Can you guess which critter left this scat?

Kangaroo poo comes out in uneven balls, which may end up in a pile or lined up in a row on the ground. Each ball is black on the outside, but when broken open, you can see that it is a grassy greenish-yellow inside.

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Which creature produces waste like this?

Horses produce a whopping 50 pounds of manure a day, so working in or around these animals is not for the faint of heart. Scat consists of large spheres filled with lengths of grass, hay and grain.

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Name the animal whose scat looks like this.

House cats produce dark brown segments of poo, with an average of three to six segments per pile. Cats often bury their waste when they are close to home, or just leave it exposed if they are further afoot.

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Which of these creatures produced the scat you see here?

Despite their size, the llama produces surprisingly small bits of poo. This camel relative leaves small brown pellets which are roughly the size and shape of beans.

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Which of these creatures produced this poo?

Cows produce about 80 pounds of poo per 1,000 pounds of body weight daily! The waste has the consistency of pumpkin pie, and piles are a couple of inches high.

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What animal do you think produced this waste?

Wolves leave behind ropey, cord-like waste that is roughly an inch in diameter. It's tapered at one end and full of undigested hair and bone from various prey.

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Think you can match this scat to an animal?

Mountain lions produce tubular poo with blunt ends. It can be continuous or segmented, and may measure more than a foot in length. While you will sometimes see bits of grass in mountain lion scat, you'll never see berries because these critters are devoted carnivores.

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Can you pick the creature that left this evidence?

Elephants produce hundreds of pounds of poo each day. The large, dark brown balls are fibrous and very coarse, full of undigested bits of plant life.

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Can you name the animal that left this scat?

With as much time as dog owners spend scooping poop, it's not surprising that dog waste is particularly easy to recognize. This poo is firm and segmented, with a chocolate brown color and the texture of Play-Doh.

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Which animal did these droppings you see here come from?

Monkeys produce piles of brown or black poop, which can be round or cylindrical. Because their diets can vary so much, their waste can be tough to distinguish, but beware -- all the rumors you've heard about monkeys throwing their own waste are true.

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Which of these critters produces a poo like this one?

Chicken waste can be as large as a golf ball or much smaller depending on the size of the bird. It's generally firm and solid, with a green or brown hue. Some chicken poo has a white tip at one end, which is from uric acid present inside the animal's stomach.

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Think you know which animal created this poo?

If you think there might be grizzly bears around, don't spend too much time studying their scat. They leave piles of tubular droppings which measure two inches in diameter or more. A single pile can weigh more than a pound. Similar droppings of a slightly smaller diameter might belong to brown bears.

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