Bobcat

This scat was found on a trail at the edge of a pond, field and open conifer forest (complete with a bounty of yellow St. John’s Wort growing in the understory).  The scat was in the middle of the trail, uncovered.  It measured 3/4 inch in diameter and 5 inches in total length. When dissected, there was a stinky cat smell to the scat. This would be a great place to go tracking in the winter.  Sweet track!

Bobcat Scat

Kinghurst Forest Nature Reserve, July 2014

Naturally after seeing this scat with Alexis Burnett and the tracking group, I had to read up on Bobcat scats.  With my trusty companion “Mammal Tracks and Sign”, I decided to research the discovery under the mentorship of tracker-enthusiast and author Mark Elbroch.  Here is some information that I gleaned from his writing:

Cat scats occasionally have a tapered end, but blunt ends are more characteristic of the cat family. Cats often leave segmented scat, either joined or separated. Cat scats are extremely twisted inside but appear smooth on the outside. Bobcats form latrines along travel routes, especially at game trail junctions. They do not cover scats often and may leave them midtrail.”*

*Elbroch, M. 2003, Mammal Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

Here is a photo of the dissected bobcat scat.  We noted small mammal fur and from the photo, it looks like there were a couple of feathers as well.

July 2014 081

I continued to read more about scat in general:

When a predator takes large prey, one that requires several feedings to finish, scat contents hint as to where the animal was recently feeding on the carcass. Predators tend to eat the internal organs first, which results in black, moist soft scats with little bone or fur. As they continue to feed, the scats incorporate more bone and fur, and in the end, they are composed entirely of these things.” (Mammal Tracks and Sign*, page 460).

*Elbroch, M. 2003, Mammal Tracks and Sign, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA.

Elbroch also talks about tracking a cat backwards through its routine and seeing the contents of its scat change from the end of the digestion process to the beginning. After reading this and looking at the scat in the photo, it looks like this scat is mostly fur – so perhaps it was saved for the end of the day’s digestion with the purpose of marking the trail junction?

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