Monday, June 30, 2008

A lesser known sign of Spring



This post is starting off with pictures of wildflowers and a warning that farther down there are pictures of poop (also known as scat).

When hiking this past weekend, we saw many piles of moose scat. Moose scat usually looks like large pellets. This pile looked like pellets of saw dust.

In the winter, moose eat twigs and branches and don't have a lot of water available and by the time those twigs and branches make it through the moose's four-chambered stomach what is left is basically sawdust.

Well, as we continued our hike and began our ill-fated bushwhack, we came across a large pile of green soft ploppy kind of scat. We all thought bear and peered into the underbrush--the pile looked fresh and was very large. Katie asked "Are bears vegetarians?" I think her question was in response to the greenish color rather than a risk assessment, but either way.

I wanted to poke the pile with a stick to see what was in it, but my hiking companions' enthusiasm seemed to only extend to a photograph. I couldn't get that scat out of my mind--was it really a bear? It didn't look like bear scat and it was such a large amount--maybe Sasquatch? There have been sightings in Maine. What could it be? Well, I couldn't wait to google and here's what I found.

In the Spring, moose change their diet to green grass and new growth leaves which contain more water and are easier to digest. It takes about 14-18 days for the bacteria in the moose's digestive system to adjust to the new diet and in the interim their scat is green and not at all traditionally moosey.

Well, now we know. Another sign of spring to go along with robins, crocus and sundresses.

{editing by Beth at 10:19 a.m., after several people mentioned in comments that scat is another name for poop, I made that editorial change thinking that it might make me sound smarter :) }

12 comments:

Jayne said...

Sasquatch poo???? ROFL! Yes, does go along with all things springy. You crack me up girlie!! ;c)

Weather Boy said...

Ahh, scatology. You have to love that the English language has an actual legitimate word to describe the study and investigation of all things scat.

I have some pictures of fox scat taken on a trip up Mt. Zircon once. I'll spare you all the details, but suffice to say, fox like to perch on top of rocks to do their business.

Beth said...

Weatherboy, it sounds blogable to me--I'd like to see it

rach :) said...

Are you sure you weren't a science teacher in a former life? Or maybe planning on becoming one as a next career?

Kathiesbirds said...

Beth, what an education! A humerous way to start the day after yesterday's excitement with the rat. Did you know that another term for "poop" is "scat"? Since you looked it up, you probably also know that there are scientist who study this stuff and they are called scatologists. Apparently you have joined their group! :)

Oh, I just read weather boy's comment. He beat me to it!

The Texican said...

Most of this post was pure crap. :)

beckie said...

That's one sign of spring I will never see around here. Thank goodness! Okay Beth, I am duly impressed. Lawyer, hiker, scatologist, your are so multi-talented. ;)

TheElementary said...

I'm glad there was an answer because I saw the picture and I was really wondering what might have left some green poop. I think it's amazing how nature works like that and you do learn something new every day :)

I wrote a blog post months back about my friend having an accident while carrying her son's diaper from the living room to the trash can and how some hit the carpet. I called it "material" ;) It seemed to be a good enough word.

SJ said...

If I were with you I would have insisted that we poke at the poop. There is nothing better than a little dissection.

RuthieJ said...

Well, it's nice to know I'm not the only person fascinated by scat! (that soft green stuff looks like something my dog Sophie would find wonderful to roll in!)

mon@rch said...

has to be amazing to see moose like that!

June said...

This was amazingly interesting to me! Here in a tough winter the deer munch on white cedar green sprigs as high as they can reach. Which is why a lot of young cedars look like lollipops. June