What Does Porcupine Poop Look Like? Porcupine Scat Identification


Porcupine Scat Identification

Porcupine scat identification can be an important part of tracking porcupines to protect your livestock, garden, and trees. Scat is much easier to identify than footprints but needs to be correctly identified or you may not realize the animals that are causing damage on your property. Porcupines are known for eating tree bark and chewing sticks, twigs, and leaves as well.

So, what does porcupine poop look like? Porcupine scat, or “poop” as it is commonly known, is produced in discrete pellets as opposed to being produced as long and tapered. Porcupine scat is shaped like cashew and can be found on the ground, in caves, or in porcupine nests located at the tops of trees.

Porcupines are one of the largest rodents in the world (smaller than only Capybara and Beaver). However, unlike the other rodents, they have sharp spines all over their body (also called “quill”), which they use as a defense mechanism against their predators.

The family of porcupines is divided into two: Old World Porcupines and New World Porcupines.

The Old World Porcupines are found all over Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. These are large, primarily terrestrial rodents that follow a strictly nocturnal schedule.

On the other hand, the New World Porcupines can only be found in North and South Americas. They’re smaller in size than their relatives, are less nocturnal, and have often been seen living on the trees.

Although porcupines are used to living in the wild, with some training, they can be kept as pets are even known to be affectionate towards humans. However, due to their tendency to eat wood, leather, plant, and furniture, porcupines are also considered serious pests in some areas.

Have these little guys been frequenting your yard, destroying your plants and fences? Before you call the pest control services to rid your property of porcupines, you must ensure that they have really been coming there.

And how would you do that? By tracking the signs of their presence, such as their scat. Analyzing their scat not only helps you in learning about their presence but also in figuring out what they have been eating.

In this article, we will learn all the different aspects of porcupine scat identification. We’ll start with a discussion about the description of their scat and compare it with the scat of other animals. Lastly, we will learn how to safely remove their scat from your property and keep these critters away for good.

Why would porcupines visit your backyard?

It might come as a surprise to you, but it is not common for a porcupine to intrude in your backyard. These little guys are content with living in the forest, where there are plenty of trees for them to feed on.

However, if they have been coming to your yard, it means that they might be facing a shortage of food and are, therefore, looking for it on your property.

If you happen to have fruit trees in your backyard or are fond of vegetable gardening, the porcupines are going to find your yard even more attractive.

They’re nocturnal creatures, so you might never see them come and go. Moreover, since porcupines do not even hibernate, they will create a nuisance for you all year round once they’re in your yard.

 

What does porcupine scat look like?

Describing what porcupine scat looks like can be tricky since the size, shape, and color of their poop can vary greatly depending on their diet. However, we will try our best to give you a clear picture of what to expect when looking for their droppings.

 

Color

Porcupines mostly feed on the leaves of herbs and shrubs like thorn apples, clover, and currant in the summers. This is why the color of their poop ranges from brown to black during these months.

However, conifers comprise their primary diet in the winters, changing the color of their poop to reddish-brown.

 

Texture

Because all the porcupine species in the world are strict herbivores, their scat lacks moisture or smoothness and is rather coarse, even when it is fresh.

It also dries quickly and will come apart easily when prodded with a stick.

 

Length and shape

Both length and shape of porcupine scat show great variation in accordance with the season and individually.

Some porcupines have several pellet-like droppings, while others have a thin and long scat. The length of the stringy kind of scat ranges between 2-3 inches, while the pellets are usually 1 inch long.

Pellets are mostly oblong in shape, with one end of which is tapered, while the stringy scat is roughly shaped like cashew or a macaroni, with both its edges curving slightly.

 

Location

Most porcupines inhabit the holes at the bottom of the trees and tend to poop right at the entrance of their dens every single time.

If you ever come across a porcupine’s den, you will find a welcome mat made of poop rolling right out of it.

 

Contents

As we’ve already mentioned earlier, porcupines are herbivores, with their primary diet consisting of evergreen needles and the inner bark of trees. However, they will gladly eat grass, roots, stems, leaves, and berries when given an opportunity.

You can see the stringy remains of grasses, leaves, and inner barks in their scat, make it appear somewhat hairy.

 

Carefully examining porcupine scat

Although the description we have given above can give you a good idea of what a porcupine scat should look like, you can never be too certain about a scat, right?

There are always individual differences between their scat. Even two different poops of the same porcupine might not look the same.

To be sure that the scat you’ve seen belongs to porcupines, you might have to examine it more closely.

However, don’t forget that it is, after all, the scat of a rodent from which you could catch several diseases and infections if you’re not careful.

  • Remember to wear a mask and gloves before you go close to it, and maintain a safe distance of 1 meter at all times.
  • Don’t try to inhale it too closely; porcupine scat has an almost non-existent smell, so that it would be pointless anyway.
  • Also, if you need to break the scat apart to observe its contents, do so with a stick and not your hands, even if they’re gloved.

 

How to differentiate between porcupine scat and the droppings of other animals?

So far, we have learned that although porcupines are consistent in all other things, their scat is anything but. For this reason, you can easily confuse their scat with that of a different animal, and we’re here to help you with it.

Below, we will compare porcupine scat to the droppings of other animals so that you can differentiate with them if required:

 

Skunk poop

Skunk poop is tubular in shape and has blunt ends on both sides. Its length can be similar to porcupine scat (or slightly longer), but it’s thicker than the latter, with half an inch diameter.

 

Possum scat

Possum scat is fairly larger than porcupine poop in length and is more likely to be confused with dog poop. It is almost double the length of a porcupine’s droppings (2 inches) and has a thickness of 3/4th of an inch. Its ends are tapered and often tend to curl to one side.

Moreover, although possum scat is brown in color, you can find white or yellowish mold growing.

 

Rabbit droppings

The most significant difference between rabbit droppings and porcupine scat is between their shape. While the former is almost perfectly round in shape, the latter is somewhat oblong.

Also, since rabbits tend to poop up to 300 times in a single day, if it’s a rabbit and not a porcupine in your backyard, you’ll have plenty of evidence.

 

Squirrel poop

Squirrel poop can be mistaken for porcupine scat, especially in winters, due to their similar color (reddish-brown). However, in size, their droppings are much smaller than the latter, about 1/8th of an inch. Moreover, their poop is often collected in a large pile around their feeder.

 

Bat poop

The bat poop is called “guano” and has more in common with mice than a porcupine. It looks like roughly-shaped grains of rice that are black in color and can easily disintegrate when touched.

Also, bat poop is mostly found right below their roosting site.

 

Chipmunk scat

Just like bat poop, chipmunk scat is also more similar to mouse droppings than porcupine scat.

Not only are their pellets much smaller in size than porcupine scat, but they have also designated a separate place inside their burrow to defecate. Therefore, it is highly unlikely for you to spot their pellets in your yard.

 

Deer droppings

While the color and shape of porcupine scat and deer droppings might appear similar, there are many differences between the two.

Deer droppings are smooth and shiny, unlike the dry and coarse scat of porcupines. Moreover, since deer are ruminants that chew their food twice before digesting it, you can never find any undigested remains in the scat.

So, if grassy remains visible in a seemingly deer-like scat, it is probably the work of porcupines.

 

Measures you can take to keep porcupines away from your yard

If a porcupine has indeed been frequenting into your yard, it is a reason of serious concern for you.

These little guys can not only damage your trees and plants but can also destroy any furniture you keep outside, particularly if it is made of wood or leather.

Moreover, if you have pets or children at home, porcupines are a potential threat to them. Not to mention that their feces can spread dangerous bacteria that can be communicable to both you and your pets.

If you want to make sure that all these don’t happen to you, you will have to take immediate preventive measures against these critters. Here are some of your best ways of doing it:

 

Live traps

Live traps are the most humane way of getting rid of small, particularly rodent pests. These traps are available for sale in hardware shops, pet or farmer supply stores, as well as on Amazon.

You can set the trap in your yard where the porcupine scat is found and put a piece of fruit or berry into it to lure the porcupine inside. Once the porcupine tries to eat the treat and is trapped inside, you can call the animal control department to get rid of them.

Always purchase a big enough trap to fit them properly so that their spines are not pushing out.

 

Proper fencing

If you want to keep porcupines away, good old fencing is not going to help you. This is because porcupines are crafty little rodents that can squeeze their way in or out of a surprisingly small opening.

The kind of fencing that can keep porcupines away doesn’t have to be too tall because they are not good jumpers.

If you add wire with a smaller weave at the bottom of the fence, it will keep them away effectively. Chicken wires are most suitable for this purpose.

 

Letting the professionals handle it

If none of the above solutions are working for you, or you’re simply uncomfortable handling it on your own, contacting pest control services is your final alternative.

Although their services can be expensive, not only will they get rid of your porcupine problem, but they will also suggest measures to keep all kinds of critters away from your property.

 

Cleaning up the porcupine scat

If you have already taken one of the measures, we recommended above and have effectively removed porcupines from your property, congratulations! You have averted a major threat to both your property and your family.

However, there is something else that you need to do.

While the porcupines are gone, what have you done about their scat? You must not forget that if their scat still lies in your yard, there is a chance that your pet or children might touch, inhale, or eat it and fall severely ill.

Therefore, if you want yourself, your children, and your pets to roam freely in the yard, you must clean after the critters; this task is easier than it sounds.

  1. First, you need to wear a mask and gloves and scan your yard thoroughly and locate all the places the porcupine has defecated in.
  2. Then, collect all of their poop in a trash bag with a tight seal using a shovel.
  3. Now, use an enzyme-based cleaner or disinfectant in the backyard to decontaminate it.

There you go. Your yard is now completely safe for you and your family.

 

Conclusion: Porcupine Scat Identification

And that brings us to the end of our article! Hopefully, you found it informative and have a better idea of how to identify porcupineOpens in a new tab. scat. 

Wow! Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this article. It’s a long one, but I thought it was worth the read. I hope that you have learned something new about the features of porcupine scat and can use this information to help you find porcupines in the wild.

We tried to cover as much information as we could, but If we missed anything or left something out, let us know by contacting us.

Thanks for reading and learning with us!

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