What are Owl Pellets?

Do you know the difference between owl poop and owl pellets?

As we know, and the children book reminds us all, all animals eat so all animals poop.

However, unlike most animals owls are unique because in addition to poop they also make owl pellets.  In order to understand what these are, we first need to look at what owls eat.

Owl pellets

Great Horned Owl

What do Owls Eat

Owls are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.  Different kinds of owls eat different kinds of animals, but some of the animals that they eat include mice, rats, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, other birds, and even insects.

Many carnivores have sharp teeth that they use to rip into the animals they are eating and then chew up the meat before they swallow it.  Owls do not have those sharp teeth, but they do have very sharp beaks.  Owls can, but do not always, use their sharp beaks to rip pieces off of the animals they eat before they swallow their food.

Owl pellets

An owl with a pellet in its mouth

Owl Pellets

Sometimes owls simply swallow their prey whole.  In other words, owls swallow an entire mouse, bones and all.  The owl is unable to digest parts of the mouse, such as the bones or fur.  All of the parts of the food that the owl is unable to digest get stored in a special part of the owls’ stomach called the gizzard.  Inside that part of the stomach the owl has strong muscles that roll those pieces up into a tight ball.

Eventually, that ball, called an owl pellet, gets regurgitated up and spit out.  This means that the owl brings up a small, tightly packet ball of bones, fur, teeth, and other parts of the animals the owl ate and coughs it up.

owl pellets

Owl pellets

Scientists study owl pellets to get a better understanding of the kinds of food that the owl eats.

It takes about 10 hours after a meal until an owl will spit out the pellet from that meal.

Owl Poop

Similar to all animals, owls body’s produce waste material that it needs to get rid of.  It does this in the form of poop.

Owls make both poop and pellets.

Owls have two kinds of waste that comes out of their body – both poop and pellets.  Remember, owl pellets are the parts of the animals that they eat that they are unable to digest, such as bones, teeth, and fur.