Let’s take a look at some of the dung you may be finding in your yard and see what types of wildlife are living near you.


Most likely those little balls of poop you are finding on the ground are coming from wild rabbits roaming around your neighborhood. (Penny is used for scale). These balls (called pellets) is similar to the appearance of peppercorn, although with a smoother surface. They are dark brown, spherical, 5-8mm in diameter, and somewhat hard & compact. Rabbits are far from discreet as you’ll often see piles of these pellets scattered across your backyard.

FUN FACT: Rabbits are of the family lagomorphs whose bodies are unable to extract all of the necessary vitamins from their highly fibrous, vegetative diets.

Because of this, lagomorphs have a unique digestive system that allows them to produce two types of droppings – fecal pellets (as discussed earlier), and cecotropes. Cecotropes are made from the undigested foods that are passed from the rabbit, in which they then reingest! That’s right, bunnies (including domestic) will actually eat its own poop on a daily basis… without you even knowing.

The cecotropes are produced in a portion of the rabbit’s digestive tract (called the cecum) where bacteria converts the organic material into vital nutrients. It is then discharged as one single piece bearing a similar appearance to that of a blackberry. This essential item to the rabbit’s diet is often hidden and quickly gobbled up as they don’t want to share such a yummy treat!


Deer Poop
Deers also output small round pellets, similar to those produced by rabbits, but more oval in form, having a slight point at one end, and larger with a 2-3 cm diameter. And like rabbits, deer constantly graze on vegetation leading to a production of several hundred pellets over at least 10 bowel movements per day!

FUN FACT: Deer have a four-chambered stomach (similar to cattle and other ruminant animals). The first chamber, called the rumen, is for storing food that has yet to be digested. Deers can actually regurgitate their stored food back up to their mouth hours later where they can then rechew it (a process called “chewing their cud” or “ruminating”) and send back through the rest of the chambers to be fully broken down and absorbed.


Turkey Poop
Turkey scat is brown, cylindrical, and relatively small with an average diameter of 1cm and length of 3 inches. The reason why turkey poop is so neatly packed together despite the amount of seeds and nuts that they eat is because their gizzards do an incredible job at pulverizing anything hard that they consume, greatly easing the digestion process.

You’ll also notice a white coloring or cap at the end of each dropping. This is because, like all birds, turkeys output both their liquid waste and solid waste simultaneously from the same opening. The uric acid that passes through their kidneys forms chalky-white urate crystals that appear on the very end of the excrement (this is more apparent in those white splats you see on your car made from smaller birds).

FUN FACT: You can tell a boy turkey from a girl turkey by their poop. Male (gobbler) droppings are j-shaped while the female (hen) droppings are spiral or curly-cued. And the diameter of the droppings tend to increase with age of turkey.


Raccoon Poop
Raccoon droppings are dark brown/black pieces with a tubular shape, blunt ends, and an average size of 1/2-inch diameter with 2-3 inches length (fairly fat and short). It is often filled with remnants of what they have eaten recently such as undigested pieces of corn, berries, or seeds.

Raccoons are latrine animals meaning they like to pick a specific (often recurring) place to go rather than just squatting down whenever nature calls. If you are finding poop (that you know is not your dog’s) in the same spot every day, you might have a raccoon visiting you at night.

FUN FACT: Raccoons (as most mammals) have a similar digestion system to humans, but one may wonder how they are able to digest all the garbage that they eat as they rummage through our trash. The front paws of a raccoon have a unique characteristic to act more like hands with fingers rather than feet, giving them the ability to separate out food from inorganic matter prior to swallowing it.


Squirrel Poop
Squirrel droppings are quite tiny (less than 8mm in diameter and about 1cm long), oval shaped with rounded tips, and slightly bulged in the middle. The pieces start out with a dark brown color which lightens in tone as they age. Squirrel poop will often be found in clusters, that is if you can find them at all. Due to their small size and lighter colors, it makes it very difficult to spot in the soil.

FUN FACT: Squirrels, among several other species that nest, use a special method to protect themselves from being detected by predators. During the first month of a squirrel’s life, the baby is not able to urinate or defecate without the mother’s touch. At specific times, the mother squirrel will stimulate the offspring’s bladder and bowels by licking their nether regions allowing her to catch the poo and pee in her mouth and then carry it away from the nest in order to hide the scent from predators.


Rats & Mice Poop
Of course the smallest droppings on our list stem from mice and rats – with rat pellets having an average 3mm diameter with a 10mm length and mouse droppings about half that. Each pellet is comparable in size and shape to a grain of rice – oblong with pointed ends- and is a shade of dark brown. Mice and rats can produce 50-100 droppings per day which are scattered everywhere rather than one place – so if just one is trapped in your attic, it can get ugly pretty fast.

FUN FACT: Rats and mice are commonly grouped together, although they do possess a lot of biological differences – one of which can be found in the digestive system. While both are omnivorous (eating both plants and meat), rats do not possess a gallbladder while mice do. The gallbladder’s main function is to store bile that helps break down fat, but since rats consume so little fat in their diet, storage is unnecessary and their bile flows directly from the liver into the small intestine.


Fox Poop
Fox scat is approximately 1/2 inch in diameter & 2-4 inches, dark brown, and can contain hair, bones, insects, seeds & undigested fruits. Fox scat often has a ropey, tapered, semi-segmented shape and gives off a distinct skunky/musky smell.

FUN FACT: Foxes are very territorial animals and tend to mark with their urine and feces when they feel they need to defend their territory from other predators in the area. Although it may be hard to distinguish from dog waste at times, a good giveaway is where it is placed as foxes tend to defecate on a prominent objects such as a rocks, stumps, and fence posts.


Coyote Poop
Coyote scat closely resembles scat from a fox except bigger. The segmented pieces are quite long in size with 4-6 inches in length and about ¾ inch in diameter. The dung is dark brown, tapered, often twisted, and contains large amounts of hair from their recently digested prey.

FUN FACT: Like foxes, coyotes are also very territorial animals but are prone to leaving their droppings in the middle of roads or trails (rather than on objects) in order to communicate with other wild canines in the area.

Garter (Garden) Snakes

Snake Poop
Garter snakes, like all snakes, are carnivorous and will eat whatever small creatures they are able to overpower such as worms, lizards, frogs, and mice. Their feces may reveal remnants of the latest victim, containing undigested fur and nails. While still maintaining a somewhat log shape, snake scat will have a more mushy, slimy look regularly seen with a white smear though it. This is the urea smear as snakes, like birds, possess a single opening where both the fecal matter and uric acid are excreted together. An adult garter snake will often produce droppings that are an inch or less in diameter although this can vary greatly due to snake’s size and what they recently ate.

FUN FACT: A snake’s digestive system is far more intricate and time consuming than your average mammal. After swallowing their prey whole, a garter snake can take 3-10 days to metabolize its food. During this time, the snake must go into a dormant-like state and focus all of its energy on breaking down its meal. If a predator is sensed nearby during the digestive process, the snake will regurgitate the meal so it can switch its focus to escaping to safety. Because they eat so infrequently, their bowel movements may only occur once a week.


Bear Poop
A bear’s stool can be compact, loose, or watery depending on their recent diet, but one thing is for sure – their poop will be far larger than anything you else find, with just one dropping weighing around a pound. Color ranges from the typical dark brown, to green (when grasses have been heavily eaten), to a pink/purple hue (when a high number of fruits and berries have been ingested.

Bears are primarily vegetarian and munch on a variety of fruits and plants depending on the season, but we all know that bears can become scavengers in more developed areas – and when it comes to our trash, anything goes. Because of this, bear poop can also contain bones, food wrappers, and an assortment of debris.

FUN FACT: It is true that bears go into a type of hibernation for the winter, but what you may not know is that while other animals that hibernate are in a coma like state, the bear’s bodily activities are only slightly reduced. While living off their excess body fat as they sleep, their metabolism will continue to function causing their intestines to accumulate fecal matter. Over time, the feces will harden within the intestinal walls becoming a “fecal plug” that can stay in the body for over 100 days until the bear comes out of hibernation and finally passess it.

Worried about your dog eating wildlife poop? Ensure that all excrement in your yard (whether from your dog or not) is scooped on a regular basis. It is possible for your dog to contract worms or parasites from eating some of the droppings. If you fear this to be the case, make sure to monitor your dog for several weeks for any signs of vomiting, lethargy, or stomach issues. You may want to contact your veterinarian to see if further testing should be performed.

What are those little balls of poop? Identifying Local Wildlife Dung.