Monday, October 27, 2008

Track of the Week 6


1. Who made me?
Found at the edge of the road in central Washington last weekend.

Caveat: Identifying animals from their scat seems to be a less certain skill than going from tracks. I feel pretty comfortable with my identifications here, but different species may leave very similar looking scats.

This was left by a coyote, probably earlier that morning. It has the characteristic tapered ends and a volume that fits well within the range for coyote deposits.

2. Who made me?
Found in second growth woods on a hillside probably a hundred feet or so from a logging road on the east of Snoqualmie Pass in the Washington cascades a couple of weeks ago.

The blunt ends and blunt segmentation are classic characteristics of feline scat. The width and volume here strongly suggests bobcat. I believe there are scats of two different ages. Note that one of the scats has a tapered end. Another characteristic difference between canine and feline scats is that cat scats tend to be more densely packed. These scats definitely fit that bill, they were very difficult to get into with sticks.

3. Who made me?
Found in second growth forest a hundred feet or so from a snow shoeing trail east of Snoqualmie Pass last winter.

Characteristic M&M style scat of a lagomorph, the location indicates shoeshoe hare rather than eastern cottontail. The orange is from urine, I'm not sure if that is the color for most lagomorphs, but definitely seems common for snowshoe hares.

Bonus. Who made me?
A voluminous latrine found in the middle of a dirt road east of Snoqualmie Pass a couple of summers ago.

This one has been a bit of a puzzler to me. What small animal would leave such a large latrine out in the open like that? Since then I've seen bat latrines that look somewhat similar, but they were beneath a roosting area, which was not the case here. Based on size and appearance when we found these we thought vole seemed plausible, but couldn't reconcile the placement. After posting it here it occurred to me that it could be from a vole's winter latrine. Having been in the middle of summer when we found it it didn't occur to me to look for evidence of vole activity from when the ground was covered in snow. While more confirmational evidence would be nice, I am pretty satisfied with this explanation.

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