Wild Animals/animal faeces


Several times this summer, whilst walking in the country, I have seen small piles of faeces which are black in colour, containing what look like cherry stones!  Typically, the piles are about 5cms. in diameter.  I live in Bedfordshire.  Any suggestions would be welcome!  Thankyou.

Dear Stephanie

Thank you for your question. I also wish to thank the authors of the books and websites I used. The books were 'Animals tracks, trails & signs' by R.W. Brown, M.J. Lawrence and J. Pope and 'Animal Tracks and Signs' by Preben Bang.

The books say that a pine marten often produces dark grey or black droppings containing cherry stones. Marten droppings may be deposited on an elevation, such as a rock, tree stump, wood pile or fallen tree trunk. The droppings are 4-12 cm long, coiled and musty smelling. Bedfordshire is outside the normal range for a pine marten, but the species seems to be extending its range and various websites claim sightings of martens in Bedfordshire. They include: http://www.wildaboutbritain.co.uk/forums/mammal-forums/23057-i-saw-pine-marten-b. You may also find http://bedfordshirewild.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/pine-martens-are-heading-our-way. interesting.

There are various mammals that produce piles of roughly spherical droppings that could look like stones. They include fallow deer (although the diameter of the pile would be much more than 5 cm) and rabbits - the diameter of a rabbit dropping is about 1 cm, so a pile could have a diameter of 5 cm.

All the best


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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

WWF. ZSL. Natural History Museum. RSPB. London Bat Group.

Newsletters of London Zoo volunteers and the London Bat Group

BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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