I don’t think this week’s puzzler was very hard as it is exactly what it looks like–a pile of poop! But hey, let’s be a little more scientific and call it by it’s more proper name–SCAT. And this scat is from a black bear.
When I’m with a group of kids and we stumble upon some animal scat on the trail, they always make funny faces and noises when I tell them you can learn a lot from an animal’s scat. If I’m feeling daring I may squat down and find a stick (a long, sturdy one) to poke through it with. (You can try this next time you find some scat, but PLEASE don’t forget to wash your hands after poking around in it.) This REALLY grosses the kids out! I matter-of-factly tell them that everyone poops, from the tiniest insect to the largest mammal.
There’s no getting around it; It’s a fact that EVERYONE POOPS. Someone wrote a whole book about it by that very name; I’ve merely written a blog post.
So looking through the scat… For one, you can tell what animal has been by. Like tracks, each animal’s scat is different. Some, like raccoons and otters will use the same spots regularly–their own outdoor privy if you will.
Others, like a bear or fox, aren’t choosy about their pooping spot and will drop it anywhere. To some scientistic folks like myself, coming upon animal scat is like being handed a clue. It’s exciting to imagine a BEAR or a coyote or an otter was there, in that exact spot!
If you are observant, you can guess some of what the animal has recently eaten. Scat from a carnivore like a coyote or fox will have lots of hair in it. Scat from an animal like a bear–an omnivore (eats plants and animals) might have berries in it along with hair or fur. And bear scat or other animal’s scat doesn’t always look exactly the same as these animals eat a variety of things. Bear scat may be loose and runny but it also might be hard and dry. If you think about it, this makes sense, right? Is your
poop scat always the same consistency? Of course not!
If you want to learn more about the habits of a BLACK BEAR, including details about how I got the photo below, CLICK HERE for this week’s Creature Feature. I promise not to have any more lengthy discussions about
poop–I mean scat.