Every animal leaves something behind that tells their story and every animal poops. Animal signs include tracks as well as nests, dens, rub marks, bites, chunks of fur, or bones. Some mammals can leave tufts of fur, feathers, antlers, while insects leave cases from their stages of life or chewed leaves. Being observant and watchful can form a picture of the entire habitat. All animals leave droppings, waste from the food they eat, and this is called scat.
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“I can identify an animal from it’s poop, and hey kids, you can too!”
“Euw, Mrs. Sides, that’s nasty, I’m not going to look at that.”
“OK, fair enough, then why don’t you look at these Raccoon Scat Replicas.”
Mammal scat can be identified by shape, size, and content. Predator scat includes fur and bones, although many are actually omnivores and eat fruit and seeds during certain times of the year. All animals poop but mammal waste is the easiest for beginners to identify. Shapes vary considerably but there are some basic forms that will, in the end, identify the source. (There are books and ID cards dedicated to this topic.)
For your information, raccoon scat is thick and tube shaped, but the ends are blunt, not tapered. They resemble small tootsie rolls and often contain berries, seeds, but also crayfish and large insects. Saying this, looking at this in a book or online, or talking about it doesn’t compare to the actual experience of finding raccoon scat. If it’s not possible to get outside to find scat of wild animals, the next best thing is to study realistic replicas that are life size and cast from field-collected scat.
Acorn Naturalist's Raccoon Scat Replica is only one of many animal scats prepared for both classroom use and nature centers. These quickly help students learn what scat looks like and what to watch for while in the field. The detail is amazing—the replicas include seed, texture, bones, and appropriate colors. Every mammal, bird, amphibian, or reptile replicated in their collection of educational scat is cast from field-collected specimen. (Now there’s another interesting job, collecting field specimen of fresh animal poop.)
Each has been molded as positive casts of actual animal poop and the molds are made from tough vinyl polymers. The polymers are tinted to replicate the actual colors. These imitations are not of the old, dry, faded scat, but the fresh, recently deposited, moist looking scat. The Raccoon Scat Replica is approximately 3 x 2 ½ inches with the droppings stacked in a blunt-tipped tubular pile as if it has just been left by a passing animal. It is a very dark brown with pieces of replicated undigested seed.
The mammal scat replica collection from Acorn Naturalist includes bat, black bear, beaver, boar, bobcat, cougar (mountain lion), domestic cat, domestic dog, coyote, mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, grey fox, red fox, javelina, marmot, mink, mouse, muskrat, opossum, river otter, skunk, porcupine, prairie dog, cottontail rabbit, jack rabbit, woodrat, domestic rat, Norway rat, squirrel and wolf scat replicas. Someone recently commented to me how surprised they were by the resources currently available to schools and that there were so many odd things to study. That’s true, and this probably falls into that category. Place several of these out at stations, with plaster casts of animal tracks and a couple field guides, and kids become fascinated (after they finish pretending to be grossed out).
So who has been this way? You can sniff this raccoon scat!
The raccoon scat, such as this replica, provides a realistic look at an important wildlife sign. In the field, with the right tools (including gloves), scat can be dissected and you learn about what the animal had eaten. This then provides information as to what plants or small animals also share the habitat with the raccoon and what this animal needs to live. The replica provides untrained eyes a focus so they know what to look for while hiking.
Yes, there are dichotomous keys and field guides for identifying scat. A key will ask questions about the general shape (oblong, spherical, and tubular) and the types of ends (pointed, rounded, and blunt), the size, color, and content. Raccoon, deer, and coyote are easy animals to begin studying—they’re very common in most parts of the country and they tend to leave lots of signs. All of the Acorn Naturalist scat replicas can be used with keys for successful identification.
This Raccoon Scat Replica is a heavy, soft, rubbery-vinyl and does not present any health concerns. It’s a tool that prepares students for further field investigations. If your class is going to participate in a week-long field program as part of their fourth or fifth grade curricula, keep some of these in your classroom. My scat set includes ten animals. These, as well as the complementary animal track molds, are musts for nature centers. I give this scat five stars.
Special thanks to Marytara for adding this item; I chuckled at her comment, "I can't believe I just added poop."
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Amount Paid (US$): 7.95
Type of Toy: Science and Nature
Age Range of Child: 9 Years or Older