Poo Dunnit

By Pete Dommett

POODUNNIT?

Most mammals are quite hard to see in the wild. Luckily, they leave lots of evidence behind (from their behinds!) that wildlife trackers use to work out which animal has been where. Can you become a nature detective and use the clues to identify these poos?

©Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Poo #1

Badger droppings in latrine

©Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust

Clue

These woodland animals eat just about anything, so their droppings can be all sorts of shapes and sizes. A squidgy splat shows they've been wolfing down worms and a purple pile packed with seeds means it was berries for breakfast! They poo in shallow pits called latrines which they dig near their underground homes.

Answer

Badger

Andrew Mason

Badger!

Poo #2

Hedgehog droppings

©Darren Tansley

Clue

You might spot this prickly creature's poo on your patio or lawn. The black droppings are about the size of your little finger and sparkle like jewels! This is because they're full of bits of the insects this animal loves to eat.

Answer

hedgehog

© Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Hedgehog!

Poo #3

Otter spraint

©Darren Tansley

Clue

The poo of this slippery customer is called 'spraint'. It's dark and sticky when it's fresh and contains the scales and bones of fish and frogs. Spraint is often left in obvious places on riverbanks and under bridges. Some people think it smells sweet or like a summer hay meadow!

Answer

otter

Otter!

Poo #4

Fox scat

©Sue Crookes

Clue

If you find the poos of these cunning carnivores, don't sniff 'em - they stink! These droppings are known as 'scat' and are black, twisted and pointed at one end. You can often see fur or feathers inside the faeces from the animals and birds that these predators hunt and scavenge.

Answer

Fox- Danny Green

Danny Green 

Fox!

Poo #5

Deer droppings

©Darren Tansley

Clue

These large herbivores do their business about thirteen times a day, each time producing around 75 pellets of poo - that's nearly 1000 plops per day! If they've been eating lots of fresh grass and fallen fruit, then these grape-sized droppings stick together in a black blob called a 'crottie'.

Answer

Red deer

©Gillian Day

Deer!

Poo #6

Bat droppings

©Montgomeryshire Wildlife Trust

Clue

The droppings of our only flying mammals are frequently found underneath their favourite feeding and sleeping spots. These tiny number twos are dry and crumbly and look like grains of black rice. They're made up of the remains of moths, midges and other insects and don't smell much at all!

Answer

lesser horseshoe bat

Lesser horseshoe bat ©Shutterstock

Bat!

Poo #7

Water vole droppings

Darren Tansley

Clue

The droppings of these furry rodents look like little green 'tic tacs'. Piles of them are found on the banks of rivers and streams where they've been nibbling the stems of grass and reeds.

Answer

Water vole

©Margaret Holland

Water vole!

Otter sprainting

Otter sprainting ©Margaret Holland

How did you do?

 

0 - Pooless

1-3 - Dung detective

4-6 - Scat-tacular!

7 - Poofect!

Did you know?

Many mammals use their droppings in much the same way that humans use social media! Foxes, otters, badgers, pine martens, water voles and rabbits all poo on purpose in prominent places such as the tops of rocks, grassy mounds and tree stumps. 

The scent of their scat acts like a 'status update', telling other members of their species important information about the animal that produced it - like its age, if it's male or female and whether it's looking for a mate.