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Wild Animals/Droppings on my patio deck


Scat around the water
Scat around the water  

Scat close up
Scat close up  
I found animal droppings on my deck today around the water I leave out for my dogs.. I live in the heart of Washington DC and have seen my share of urban animals. But this scat doesn't look like anything from a mouse, rat, or raccoon. The oddest part is how the entire water bowl is surrounded by droppings, all going  perpendicular to the bowl. Does this mean there were maybe more than five or ten of the little guys??

Dear Kim,

Definitely looks like rodent poop.  From the size, I'd guess squirrels.  And yes, there might be more than one.  But it doesn't take all that many rodents to leave a LOT of poop in short order.

If these are arriving in the night, there's a possibility it's a very large, adult rat.  Some of them can produce MONSTROUS poops, especially if they've been eating a lot of plant matter (which looks to be the case from the contents of the poops I can see).

But my current guess:  squirrels.


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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.


I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.


I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

House Rabbit Society

Exotic DVM journal

I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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