Tips on Identifying Animal Scat

During the winter there are not as many animals active because many of them are hibernating or have migrated.  However, there are still many animals active in the Rocky Mountains.

Even if you don’t see an animal you can still see signs of it to know that it is around.  The main signs to look for are tracks (footprints) and scat (poop).  If you see tracks or scat you can figure out what animal they come from and know that animal is in the area.

Here are some general tips to follow to help you identify what animal some scat came from:

First – Look at the general shape.  Is it tubular or is it in pellets?

Second – Look at the size of scat -about how many inches long is the scat?

Finally – What is in the scat?  Do you see any hair?  Berries?  Something else?  What an animal eats often comes through in the scat.  For example, carnivores eat meat, which sometimes includes the hair or fur of animals and the scat of carnivores may include that hair or fur.  Omnivores, such as bears eat berries and their scat may show some berries.

Following these steps will help you narrow down your search to a few possible animals.  You may not be able to figure out the one exact animal that it is from, but with careful observation you should be able to get a better idea of what animals are in an area based on the kinds of scat you see.

Shape of Scat For Different Kinds of Eaters

Herbivores = pellets

Carnivores = tubular with hair in it

Omnivores = tubular or plops with hair or berries in it

scat deer

Pellets – deer scat

Pellets – Deer, Elk, Moose, Mountain goats, Bighorn sheep, and rabbits.

mammals bear scat

Plops – bears

Plops – Bears.

mammals coyote scat 2

Tubular Large – Coyote

Tubular Large – Canines (coyotes, wolves, dogs), Felines (cougars).

mammals mice scat 2

Tubular Small – Mouse

Tubular Small – Rodents (mice, chipmunks, and squirrels).