What Does Wolf Poop Look Like? Wolf Scat Identification


Wolf Scat Identification

Is your neighborhood located at the edge of a forest, where it is common for wild animals like wolves to visit your backyards occasionally? The fear of wolves frequenting around your house is natural, especially if you have kids or pets at home. While these wild canines might only be looking for food, there’s no saying what they might do to your children or dog or cat if they come across them.

Therefore, if you want yourself and your family to be safe, you must keep your eyes and ears open at all times. This way, you can recognize the signs of their visit early and take steps to drive them away for good.

But how would you know if a wolf has been visiting your yard or not? Wolves are nocturnal hunters who often look for food after dark outside. Most of us are tucked in our beds during this time.

If you keep waiting to come face-to-face with the wolf, you might be waiting a long time. It is also possible that they get an opportunity to attack your children first, and by then, it will already be too late.

What if we told you there was a way of knowing about a wolf’s visits to your backyard earlier? Although it might sound a little off-putting, scat identification is very efficient and can also give you a peek into what they have been eating.

In this article, we will learn about wolf scat identification by exploring what their poop looks like and comparing it with the droppings of other animals. We will also discuss how to safely examine their scat without catching any dangerous disease from it.

Why would a wolf visit your backyard?

As we’ve already mentioned briefly, if wolves or any other wild animal has been frequenting backyards, it is in 95% of cases in search of food. But why would wolves come looking for food into your backyard? It’s not like humans are a part of their diet, right? To understand this better, let’s take a quick peek into the diet of wolves.

Wolves are primarily carnivores that hunt at night and are known to prey on large, herbivores ungulates of the wild, such as deer, caribou, bison, elk, and so on. Because they hunt in packs of 10-15, it is not difficult for them to take down prey much larger than themselves.

However, wolves have a quite flexible diet, particularly during winters when food is already scarce. When they cannot find ungulates to hunt, wolves resort to eating smaller animals like hares, rabbits, birds (mostly waterfowl), eggs, and rodents. In extreme cases, they will also eat grass, fruits, and flowers.

Therefore, if a wolf has visited your backyard during winters, it is probably because they can’t find anything to eat in the forest and are desperate for food.

 

What does wolf poop look like?

I’m sure you might have come across dog poop at some point; wolf scat is similar to it in many ways, except the size and content (in the case of pet dogs).

Wolf scat appearance varies depending on the wolf’s diet. Wolf poop is generally cylindrical to oblong in shape with a diameter of 0.85 to 1.45 inches, and typically has pointed ends. The scat is typically dark brown but can range from tan to black. It contains hair and bone fragments from the ungulates it usually eats and has an awful pungent odor.

To give you a clearer idea of what to expect when looking for wolf poop, we will describe every feature of it separately and elaborately.

Image of wolf scat in farmland

 

Color

The color of wolf poop usually ranges from dark brown to brownish-grey. When it is fresh and wet, it might appear darker, almost blackish in color. However, give it 3-4 hours, and it will turn into a lighter shade of brown with a tinge of dull grey.

If you find a day-old wolf poop, it will probably be whitish in color.

Wolf poop color

 

Length and shape

The length of wolf poop can vary between 6 to 17 inches, depending on how much they’ve eaten, but it is usually longer than 10 inches.

And it is not straight but coiled in a somewhat ropey manner, with one of its ends being rounded and the other tapered and pointed.

As you can imagine, it has a roughly tubular structure with its diameter ranging between 0.5 and 1.5 inches (usually thicker than 1 inch).

Wolf scat length and shape

 

Smell

Wolf poop has an unpleasant, somewhat pungent smell that doesn’t fade away for a long time (at least 6-8 hours). If a fresh poop is somewhere nearby, you’d probably be able to tell by its smell.

 

Texture

Due to the contents of wolf poop, you will never find its texture to be smooth and glossy like that of many other animals. It is never overly runny either unless the wolf has consumed bloody meat recently. The older it gets, the drier it appears.

wolf scat texture

 

Location

Wolves usually poop away from their den because their poop contains parasitic eggs that could end up making them sick as well.

However, if you can spot more than one scat in the same location, it probably means that their defecator is trying to send some kind of message to another wolf or their pack.

Wolves mostly use their scat to communicate with their friends, telling them about their presence, status, and health.

Wolf poop

 

Contents

Because wolves are primarily carnivorous, a large part of their poop consists of the hair of other animals, the undigested fragments of their flesh, bones, and hides. However, during winters, you can also find berry seeds in their poop.

 

How to examine wolf scat safely?

If you go through the details of the wolf scat described in the last section carefully, you will be able to recognize the wolf scat easily if you come across it.

Now, let us suppose you found a scat looking just like a wolf’s in your yard. What’s the first question that comes to your mind? You might wonder what the wolf has been eating in your yard so that you can understand the reason behind their visits.

If you want to find out what the wolf’s diet comprises, you can do so by breaking apart its scat and scanning through the contents. The scat of most animals, including wolves, often contains some of the undigested part of their food, such as bones, hair, seeds, and so on.

However, examining the feces of an animal is not child’s play. Most of their feces contain bacteria and parasites that could make you severely ill if not handled properly.

Here are some pointers that might help you examine wolf scat safely:

  • Wear a face mask and hand gloves before going closer to the scat.
  • For observing the length and color of the scat, stand at a safe distance of 1 meter.
  • Even if you’re trying to smell the scat, you must not go closer than the distance of 80 centimeters. Inhaling the scat too closely, especially when it is wet, can also transmit dangerous bacteria into your body.
  • For breaking the scat apart, use a stick (ranging between 120-150 centimeters ideally) instead of your hands.
  • If the scat is still wet and won’t come apart by prodding, wait for it to dry up instead of using your hands. Also, a wet scat signifies that the wolf might be somewhere around, so be careful.

All these precautions will ensure that you don’t catch a communicable disease from the feces. But do you have an idea of the diseases you can catch from wolf scat?

Below, we will talk about one of the most dangerous diseases that are communicable to humans if they handle or swallow wolf feces: Hydatid Disease.

 

Hydatid Disease (Echinococcosis)

Also referred to as “Hydatidosis,” the Hydatid Disease is a parasitic infestation caused by the cysts that contain the larval stage of tapeworm (E. granulosus), also known as hydatid worm.

The adult tapeworms infect dogs and other canines, including wolves, laying eggs inside their bodies. When these eggs are excreted from their bodies through feces, they get transmitted into the soil and can even infect fruits and vegetables growing in our gardens. Handling, inhaling, or consuming the feces of the canids can also lead to this disease.

Some of the common symptoms of Hydatid Disease are:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Upset stomach
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Anemia
  • Cough
  • Jaundice

 

How to differentiate wolf poop from the scat of other animals?

You might already know this, but foxes are much more common visitors to people’s backyards than wolves. And because fox scat might appear to be just like wolf poop until examined closely, there’s a chance that you might be mistaken about the identity of your backyard visitor.

Like foxes, there might be several other animals whose scat might be similar to wolves in terms of length, color, or texture. Therefore, to make sure that you’re not confusing another animal’s scat as the wolf’s, let’s look at the differences between wolf scat and the scat of other wild animals:

 

Fox scat

While the color of fox scat and wolf poop is similar, wolf poop is significantly larger than the former. Fox scat is merely 2-3 inches long and also has a twisted structure, unlike wolf poop.

 

Coyote poop

The color of coyote poop changes in accordance with their diet, ranging from dark black to grey. Its texture also varies with diet; if they’re eating a plant-based diet, their scat will be dry and crumbly. However, when they eat meat, it is wet and runny. If exposed to the sun for more than 8 hours, its color changes into bleached grey.

 

Pine Marten scat

Pine Marten’s scat is significantly different from wolf poop. It is usually greyish black in color but can even turn blue during summers because they consume bilberries (their primary summer diet).

It is much smaller than wolf poop in length, reaching 3-4 inches of length on average, with a thickness of 0.3-0.5 inches. Moreover, due to their tendency of wriggling hips, while pooping, pine martens’ scat also has a twisted shape.

 

Badger poop

The size, color, and texture of badger poop highly vary by what and how much they have been eating. If they eat fruits and berries, their poop is firm and lighter in color; when they feed on worms, their poop turns darker and wetter.

Badgers also tend to dig up holes and defecate in them. Lastly, the musky scent of their poop is its most significant identifiable feature.

 

Otter droppings

The droppings of otters are called “spraint.” It is black in color and has a coarse texture. However, if you want to distinguish otter droppings from other animals, you should look at its contents. Because otters have a primarily aquatic diet, their dropping contains small fish scales, fragments of shells, and undigested parts of fish and crayfish.

 

Lynx scat

While lynx scat is also brown in color like the wolf poop, its other features are more similar to bobcat scat.  It is 4 inches long and has a thickness of 3/4th of an inch diameter. Its texture appears coarse with segments and two blunt ends.

 

Mountain Lion poop

The poop of mountain lions is 5 inches long and has a thickness of 1 ¼ inches. It has a somewhat rough texture and is light brown in color.

Since mountain lions are usually on the move when they defecate, they release one pellet at a time. This results in their poop being scattered in their walking trail instead of being piled up in a single place.

 

Raccoon scat

Although raccoon scat is black and shiny when it is wet, it turns dark brown upon drying, the same color as the wolf scat. However, that’s where the similarities between the two end. It is only 3 inches long, much shorter than wolf scat, and has a thickness of half an inch.

 

Hedgehog poop

The most significant difference between hedgehog poop and wolf poop is their size, with the former being far too short to be mistaken for the latter. Hedgehog poop is only 1-2 inches long, with a sausage-like shape and a tapered end. It is black in color and often contains berry pips and small, undigested fragments of the insects they eat.

 

Conclusion: Wolf Scat Identification

Wolf scat identification is done by wildlife services personnel and researchers to detect and identify the presence and movement of wolves in an area, as well as to obtain information about prey species that might have been consumed by wolves.

We’ve reached the end of our article on what does wolfOpens in a new tab. poop look like. I do hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it – which was quite a lot!

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