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Fake Animal Scat

In this activity, students create (and may eat!) fake animal scat in this activity from the book “Hands On Grossology” by Sylvia Branzei.

Have you ever examined poop?

Scatologists are scientists who make their living from studying feces to determine a variety of things about the animals or humans who made it. They can even identify an animal from it's feces or "scat" alone.

It may sound gross, but we can learn a lot about an animal’s habitat and habits from its poop! Not only can we see what they’ve been eating, but we can determine what types of plants and animals live in their habitat, where the animal has been hunting or grazing and what types of diseases they may have.

Who knew that poop was so useful?

Objectives

  • Explain how scientist can determine what an animal eats by examining its waste.

Materials

  • Per Group or Student:
    oatmeal (quick-cooking, but not instant, works best)
    cocoa powder
    artificial Sweetener (i.e. Sugar Twin)
    water

Key Questions

  • What might you find in real scat?
  • How do scatologists use scat to learn about animals?
  • How does the scat of herbivores or carnivores differ?Do some research on an animal and identify what it eats. Roll some pieces of its food into the scat and have a friend dissect it. Can they determine what it is and guess what type of animal made it?

What To Do

  1. On some wax paper or a paper plate, use fingers to grind oats into finer pieces. Use about 1/3 cup of oatmeal. This may take a few minutes.
  2. Add about 1 teaspoon of cocoa and 1 teaspoon of artificial sweetener (this acts as a binding agent. Sweetener is more effective than sugar for this).
  3. Add some warm water a little at a time until you arrive at a consistency that will allow you to roll and form the scat into the desired shape.
  4. Dust or roll the scat in a mixture of cocoa powder and artificial sweetener to finish.
  5. Serve on some toilet paper for full effect.
  6. Enjoy!

Extensions

  • Research animal scat and shape your fake scat to that of a particular animal, you could add some seeds and/or raisins to form a good representation. Can other students identify what animal created it?
  • Do some research on an animal and identify what it eats. Roll some pieces of its food into the scat and have a friend dissect it. Can they determine what it is and guess what type of animal made it?

Other Resources

National Park Service | Great Basin Track and Scat

Books | “Grossology” Series:  GrossologyGrossology and You, and Animal Grossology by Sylvia Branzei

Alberta Parks | Animal Signs Take Home Book