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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

Whose Poop is This?

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

Learn about Tahoe’s Native Animals by Exploring Scat

Grade Level:



Life Science

  • Wildlife Biology

  • Biodiversity

  • Adaptation

  • Food Webs

Tools & Materials

  • Computer

  • Camera

To Do & Notice

1. Question: Can you tell which scat belongs to which animal? What can we learn about an animal's diet by observing the shape and texture of that animal's scat? What is the difference between an omnivore, carnivore and herbivore? Check out the Glossary in the “What’s Going On” section below to learn more about these terms.

2. Exploration:

  • Test your skills! Go on a family walk in the woods to see if you can spot any signs of wildlife. Scat is just one example of an animal sign. Others include: tracks, fur, scratch marks, teeth marks on leaves & branches, openings in the soil or beneath logs or rocks, and more.

3. Collect Data:

  • Bring your camera! Take pictures of any animal signs you see. You may even be able to capture a picture of an actual animal. Birds & bugs are a great place to start your exploration into wildlife photography.

  • Become a citizen scientist! You can share your nature photos with a community of scientists & nature enthusiasts and contribute to the global biodiversity database using iNaturalist.

4. Communicate Findings:

  • Post photos of your most interesting finds on social media and tag us @sweptahoe on Instagram and/or to @swep4 on Facebook. Be sure to hashtag and follow #SWEPsnippets. If you cannot post directly yourself, send SWEP your photos (

What’s Going On

Glossary of Terms:

  • Scat: wild animal feces (or poop). Listen (and sing along) to the Piece of Scat Song.

  • Carnivore: animal that eats mostly meat.

  • Herbivore: animal that eats mostly plants.

  • Omnivore: animal that eats both plants and animals.

More Fun Facts about Animals & Scat:

  • There are some animals like deer and rabbits that poo on the go while others like to be more stealthy about it. Some cat species bury their waste. Cats have a history of using urine and feces to mark their territory, as they have chemical scent markers called pheromones that are found in their urine and feces. This means that scratched out areas of pine needles and soil with droppings in them indicate the scat is from the cat family.

Spider Disguised as Bird Poop
  • The bird dropping spider disguises itself to look like bird poop to ward off predators. See image! -->

    • Coyotes use their feces to communicate with others and mark their territory. They leave excrement on the borders of their territory or on paths that they frequent. They will even leave it in the middle of trails, because they want you to find it and know you are in their territory.

    • Raccoons often poop in the same area over long periods of time. In the wild, they like the bases of trees, tree forks, or raised areas such as fallen trees.


Going Further

  • Can you tell the difference from chipmunk and squirrel tracks? Learn more about how to find and decipher animal tracks. Here is an intro video for kids about how to look for animal tracks. Then play this animal track printable game.

  • Look at the scat people have found in the Sierra Nevadas and upload your own scat photos!

Thank you to our many partners for supporting student's science, sustainability and outdoor learning experiences.

Please review SWEP's Terms of Use prior to using this resource.

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