Deer are among the most beloved wild animals in North America. Whether you’re a hunter who loves their game or a wildlife lover who enjoys looking out their window, deer are always a beautiful animal to see.
But one aspect of deer that isn’t beautiful is its poop. When people see deer poop, they’re often shocked by its unusual shape.
Being able to identify deer poop (or deer scat, or deer droppings) can be very valuable for pet owners who are looking to keep their pets safe and sound.
Let’s go through some vital facts about what deer poop looks like and how to identify it.
What Does Deer Poop Look Like?
Generally, deer poop comes in a spherical or pill shape, and many people mistake it for rabbit poop. Deer scat is much smaller than most people imagine due to the deer’s large size. In reality, deer poop consists of many tiny pellets.
Deers can deposit large or small numbers of pellets or small numbers. Deer can deposit up to 100 pellets at once! When they produce a large amount of scat, deer poop often clumps together, forming a large pile on the ground.
Pictures of Deer Poop
As you can see below, pictures of deer poop do map to the description we’ve outlined above, but may not meet your expectations if you’d never heard them described:
Difference Between Deer Poop and Rabbit Poop
Although rabbits and deer are remarkably different in size, their poop looks very similar. The main difference between deer poop vs. rabbit poop is the size; rabbit poop is about a quarter of the size of deer poop.
Aside from that, these two animals have nearly identical feces. Another difference is the quantity of poop they leave, and deer will poop in much larger quantities due to their size. So, if you see a large pile of pellet-shaped poop, you’ll be correct in guessing it came from a deer.
Size, Texture, Shape, and Color
A deer’s diet primarily consists of berries, vegetation, nuts, and seeds. Because of their diet, deer poop has a distinct look. Deer poop is generally pellet-shaped, with one rounded end and one pointy end caused by the deer’s sphincter.
A single pellet can measure between 3/4 and 1 inch long. Deer poop is usually smooth and shiny with a dark, almost black color if fresh. If it’s older, it’s drier and more prone to crumbling. In general, each pellet has a dense texture.
Is Deer Poop Hazardous for Pets?
If you own a dog, you know they get into almost everything. Unfortunately, that includes things like deer poop. So, how hazardous is deer poop for pets and people? Usually, deer droppings aren’t as harmful as other types of poop, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe.
Deer poop commonly contains two diseases harmful to people and pets. E. Coli is found in most deer poop and can cause severe infection in people or pets, particularly dogs.
Another disease, chronic wasting disease, is also found in deer poop. More research needs conducting to confirm if it can transmit to people and pets, but the disease is already wreaking havoc on deer and elk populations.
Many home and property owners come across animal feces and are concerned about what animals may be lurking. Being able to identify the feces that wildlife and rodents leave behind will not only let you know what animals are in the area, but also can give clues as to how many of them are present.
At first, it can be distressing to find foreign looking animal feces in your home or on your property. Fears of aggressive or rabid animals, as well as the diseases they may carry are often the first worries.
Protecting your family and pets is of utmost importance. However, taking the time to correctly identify the feces is essential in assessing the threat or risk from the animals.
This research will also enable a home or property owner to devise an effective strategy for keeping any pest animals out of their homes, barns, or other areas where they are not welcome.
Scat Identification Techniques
- The first thing to do if you come across scat, or feces from animals, is to observe the location of the droppings. Notice where the feces are in relation to buildings, other structures, other animals, water, roads, and vegetation. Different animals will place their droppings in particular locations and this can be the first clue to identifying them.
- Next, observe the placement of the scat. Are the feces hidden or buried? Are they randomly dropped all over an area with seemingly little regard for placement, or are they tucked away in corners or neat piles? These factors can greatly narrow down the list of possible culprits.
- Note the size of the scat. If you are investigating feces found in your home or on your property, it is a good idea to obtain a ruler or tape measure that you can use to measure. Some animals’ feces may look identical to others from the same family, and size may be the only distinguishing feature. *REMEMEBR: animal feces can carry both diseases and parasites so they should never be handled without gloves.*
- What is the shape of the found fecal matter? Some shape characteristics to look for include if the feces are round, tapered at the ends, completely tubular, round pellets, twisted, or moist mounds.
- An additional clue to the species of animal leaving the scat is what is included in the feces. Berries, hair, seeds, and plant parts should all be looked for in the droppings. This information can be used to identify the animal that left it.
- Lastly, look around the area where you first identified the scat. In cases of feces from animals that have similar appearing feces to another species, it can be helpful to search for nearby footprints or tracks left by the animals. This can be used to confirm species.
Final Thoughts: Deer Scat & Your Pets
Try to identify deer droppings if you’re out hiking on a trail or on a hunting trip. Not only will it help you avoid messes, but it can also help you find a deer that’s recently been in your area so that you can be on the lookout if your pets are in tow.
Not sure about the droppings you’re seeing? Check out our other guides to animal scat: