Sunday, October 13, 2013

Funky Feces

On Friday evening, I went out to harvest basil leaves from planters on my patio.  Friday had been rainy all day, and the early evening was still drizzly.  As I approached one of the planters, I noticed a long scat on the flagstones.  Even in the relatively dim light, I could see that there was a long pale projection from one end.  "Poor animal," I thought, "loaded with intestinal worms."  But, on closer inspection, the "worm" turned out to be the tail of a vole that the animal (probably a fox or coyote) had eaten and then very hastily passed out of its alimentary track, completely undigested.

Perhaps even more strangely, when I went out to inspect the scat in better light the next morning, half of the scat was still present, but the half with the vole had disappeared.  Some coprophagous animal had taken advantage of an easy (though, to my human mind somewhat disgusting) meal.
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8 comments:

robin andrea said...

That really is quite a funky bit of feces. We see a lot of scat on our walks, but never one with an undigested vole.

packrat said...

Scott:

Are you sure that vole didn't take one bite of that funky piece and keel over on the spot?

:)

Scott said...

Robin Andrea: I'd never seen anything like it before, either!

Scott said...

Nah, Packrat, the vole was covered with intestinal mucus (I think; it was a little hard to tell because everything was so wet).

Mark P said...

I just realized I missed this post. We see lots of fox and coyote scat around here. There is almost always either a whole lot of seeds (mainly persimmon now) or hair, but I have never seen anything like that undigested critter.

Scott said...

Mark: It was completely new to me, too, so I thought it might be worthy of a post. Also, the feces might be from a raccoon; there are quite a few around, and they are a bit more likely to come onto the patio than a fox or coyote might be. I've seen quite a few dead voles laying on the trails recently (cause of death unknown), and a raccoon may have just come across one and eaten it.

Mark P said...

I hadn't thought of a raccoon. I wonder what an armadillo would do with a vole. I doubt you have them up there, at least yet, but on the other hand, I saw a dead armadillo by the highway up in Illinois (I think -- all the places tend to run together) on our recent trip.

Scott said...

Mark: I'll bet that armadillos are omnivorous, and probably would have gobbled up the dead vole if it had run across it in the feces. I had armadillos in my garden when I lived in central Florida, but they haven't migrated to Pennsylvania (yet). I don't know how far their range extends northward; now I'm going to have to Google it!