I have droppings that keep appearing on my deck. How do I go about determining what left them?

Identifying feces, also known as “scat,” can be a difficult task, as feces change according to the animal’s diet. However, by asking the right questions, you can go a long way to reduce the number of available suspects.

1) Be safe. Droppings are dirty and germy. Avoid handling droppings without proper protection, which includes avoiding inhaling around it. If you have to touch, use a tool and/or properly gloved hands!
2) Determine its size, both in length and width.
3) Identify its form. Is it round like a pellet, or tubular? Are the ends flat or pointed, or is one end flat and the other pointed?
4) Is there one dropping or multiple parts?
5) Can you identify any hair or food particles in the droppings? Sometimes corn and berry parts aren’t completely digested.
6) What time of day do you find the droppings? Would they have been left at night or during the day?
7) Is it a one-time event, or does it occur in the same general spot for several days?

For better identification, it is helpful to know what state you are from and what type of habitat you reside in (i.e., woods, urban, suburban, agricultural, etc.), as this helps us know what types of animals live in your area.

Visit the site below for additional assistance. If you visit your library or a local bookstore, books on animal tracks usually have a section on scat identification.

Resources: (online)