Separate

Plague (rainbow) skink

Lizard droppings (also known as ‘scat’) typically come in the form of a small dark (brown/black) cylindrical pellet with a small white tip that is uric acid. Dropping size can vary depending on the size of prey that has been consumed but typically may range between approximately 2 and 5 mm long.

Can be confused with:

Plague skink droppings are virtually indistinguishable from those of other native skinks of similar size, including the white tip of uric acid. Plague skink droppings can also be confused with mouse droppings, small bird droppings or even wētā droppings but the important point of difference is that, like birds, lizards excrete uric acid which forms the small white tip at the end of the scat. 

Read more about this species

Mouse

Mouse droppings are 3.9 mm to 7.6 mm long and are dark brown or black. They have a distinctive strong ‘soiled’ smell. They scatter single droppings as they run, but there may be groups of droppings where they stop to feed or where they use the same path several times.

Can be confused with:
Large mouse droppings could be mistaken as juvenile kiore or ship rat droppings. Mouse droppings may be confused with weta droppings, but weta droppings have a blunter end and often have a ridge running along the length of the dropping on one side. Stick-insect droppings can look like a tube of stacked circular disks, especially when dry.

Read more about this species

Kiore

Kiore droppings are smaller than those of other rats in New Zealand (see photograph “Dropping comparison between three main rodent species found in New Zealand”) and resemble small ship rat droppings. Kiore droppings range from 6.4mm to 9.0mm in length. Droppings are deposited singly in small groups along commonly used tracks and at feeding sites.

Can be confused with:
Tree weta droppings It may be difficult to distinguish ship rat droppings from kiore droppings. Kiore are absent from large part of mainland New Zealand, and this may help decide if the droppings belong to kiore or not. Wētā droppings can resemble kiore droppings but tend to be thinner, have blunter ends and are often ridged lengthwise, as in the example at right. The ridging can be darker, resulting in a striped appearance, which fades with time.

Stick-insect droppings are even thinner and can look like a tube of stacked circular disks, especially when dry. 

Read more about this species

Ship Rat

One sample of droppings measured 6.8mm to 13.8mm long (average 8.6mm) and 2.7mm to 5.0mm wide (average 3.6mm). The droppings are cylindrical and taper slightly at the ends. They are deposited singly as rats walk or in small groups close to feeding sites.

For scientific people, there is a formula that helps distinguish between ship rat and Norway rat droppings – it is correct about 95% of the time.

  • Y=100 L/W3 - where length (L) and width (W) of pellets are measured to the nearest 0.1 mm. If the average of Y from a sample of at least five pellets is less than 20 then it will most likely be Norway rats.

Can be confused with:
Mouse, kiore, and ship rat droppings have pointed ends. Small ship rat droppings could be mistaken for those of mice or kiore, and large mouse or kiore droppings for ship rats. Norway rat dropping tend to be large and have much rounder tips.

Tree weta droppingsLarge wētā droppings can resemble small ship rat droppings but tend to be thinner, have a blunter end, and are often ridged lengthwise, as in the example at right. The ridging can be darker, resulting in a striped appearance, which fades with time.

Stick-insect droppings are even thinner and can look like a tube of stacked circular disks, especially when dry.

 

Read more about this species

Norway rat

Norway rat droppings are cylindrical with blunt ends and average 16mm long (range 13.4-19.1mm) and 6mm to 8mm wide. Droppings are deposited singly in small groups along commonly used tracks and at feeding sites.

For scientific people, there is a formula that helps distinguish between ship rat and Norway rat droppings – it is correct about 95% of the time.

  • Y=100 L/W3 - where length (L) and width (W) of pellets are measured to the nearest 0.1 mm. If the average of Y from a sample of at least five pellets is less than 20 then it will most likely be Norway rats.

Can be confused with:
Norway rat droppings are larger and have a blunt end compared to the tapered ends seen in ship rat droppings. Kiore droppings are smaller than ship rat droppings and they also have pointed ends. Mouse droppings are a lot smaller than Norway rat droppings.

Tree weta droppings

Large wētā droppings can resemble Norway rat droppings in size and shape (including the blunt or rounded ends). However, wētā droppings are often ridged lengthwise, as in the example at right. The ridging can be darker, resulting in a striped appearance, which fades with time.

 

 

Read more about this species

Possum

Droppings (pellets) are long and cigar or crescent shaped, like jellybeans, with slightly pointed ends.  They are called pellets, can be found singly or in groups, and are usually about 15-30 mm long and 5-14 mm wide.  The colour and texture vary with diet, but they are often various shades of green, darkening with age.  Possum pellets can have a distinctive smell rather like pickled onions.  In spring when pine pollen cones are common the pellets can be bright yellow.

Can be confused with:

Droppings are quite different to deer or goat pellets because of their elongated shape, whereas ungulate pellets are round.. Possum droppings are often found on logs and stumps, while deer and goat droppings are mostly found on the ground and often in pellet heaps. Large weta droppings can sometimes be mistaken for those of juvenile possums.

Read more about this species

Rabbit (European)

Rabbits produce small pellet-like droppings that are dark in colour and quite compacted. The pellets are generally around 5 mm in diameter but those of large adult males (bucks) can be up to 10 mm wide. An average sized rabbit can produce 200-300 pellets a day, which are generally deposited whilst feeding.  Adult male rabbits concentrate their droppings in areas known as 'buck heaps'.  A buck heap may contain thousands of indivudal pellets.

Can be confused with:

Rabbit droppings are most likely to be confused with those of hares. Hare droppings are generally larger, more friable (less compacted), more spherical (rounder) and lighter in colour.  Groupings of hare droppings tend to occur around prominent structures within their range whereas rabbit buck heaps may be in more open areas.  Deer, goat and pig droppings are black and shiny when fresh, not brown and dull looking.

Jack-Powell-rabbit-sign-pellets.mp3

Listen to Jack Powell, long-time rabbiter and animal pest control officer, describe rabbit droppings in wetter North Island and drier South Island areas. Audio clip courtesy New Zealand Biosecurity Institute Oral History Project.

 

Read more about this species

Brown hare

Hare droppings are usually found as a single pellet or small groups of faecal pellets. Individual pellets are shaped like flattened spheres, 15 mm × 10 mm in size with a slight tail on one side, or can be somewhat pear-shaped. Fresh droppings are a dull black colour and flecked with lighter bits of undigested vegetation. Older droppings fade to a dried grass colour. Hare droppings are more scattered than rabbit droppings but groupings of hare droppings can occur around prominent structures within their range.

Hare droppings usually fall apart in 1 to 3 months but in dry alpine areas they may retain their shape for 3 or more years. This ‘accumulation’ of faecal pellets can give the impression that hares are more common than they actually are.

Can be confused with:

Compare hare and chamois droppings Hare droppings are most likely to be confused with those of rabbits but are generally larger, more fibrous, more friable (less compacted and easily crumbled), more spherical (rounder) and lighter in colour than rabbit droppings. Groupings of rabbit buck heaps may occur in more open areas whereas groups of hare droppings usually occur around prominent structures. Deer, goat, and chamois droppings are of a similar size to hare droppings but are shiny black when fresh compared to the hare’s dull black droppings. Click on the image at right to compare brown hare and chamois droppings.

Ungulate pellets are also more elongated and pointed at one end compared with those of hares, and usually contain less fibrous plant material.

Read more about this species

Dama wallaby

Dama wallaby pellets are about 20mm long and pear-shaped, although there can be some variability to a more elongated, rounded shape or a more flattened square shape. Droppings are black or brown in colour and typically found in groups of 5 to 10.

Can be confused with:

Dama wallaby pellets could be mistaken for deer, goat or sheep pellets. They are slightly larger than red deer pellets.

Read more about this species

Bennett's (red-necked) wallaby

Individual faecal pellets often have a flattened square shape but can be more elongated and round in cross-section, or pear-shaped. Droppings are about 25 - 30 mm long and 15 mm wide at the broadest end. If wallabies are feeding on coarse plants, their droppings are usually deposited individually, but varies with season and also depends on what they have been eating.

Can be confused with:

Individual droppings of Bennett’s wallaby are unlikely to be confused with those of other species as they are distinctive from other mammals and no other wallaby species occurs in the same area of distribution.

Read more about this species

Goat

Faecal pellets can be found singly but are more typically found in groups. Individual pellets have an elongated oval shape, smoothly rounded at the ends. Pellets rarely adhere to each other and measure up to 20 × 8 mm. They are usually clean and dry but can have a moist oily-like texture from anal mucous when they are first deposited. The droppings are usually almost odourless. Sometimes pellets are found in deep layers in sites where goats spend the night.

Can be confused with:
Similar to droppigns of sika deer and fallow deer, and are difficult to distinguish from those of sheep. They can also be confused with the droppings of young red deer which lack the dinge-and-nipple found on the ends of pellets from adult deer.

Read more about this species

Chamois

Chamois pellets are about 20-25 mm long, oblong shaped and black. Fresh droppings are shiny. Droppings are usually found singly or in loose groups and rarely as clumped droppings. Large amounts of droppings are sometimes found in latrine areas, near where animals have been sheltering (often under bluffs or in patches of subalpine scrub).

Can be confused with:

In alpine areas, chamois droppings may be confused with those of goats, deer and hares. Feral goat droppings are of a similar size to those of chamois and therefore more easily confused. Chamois droppings will be more oblong shaped and usually smaller and narrower than red deer pellets, although there is substantial overlap in size.

Chamois and hare droppingsHare droppings are more rounded than chamois droppings and look more fibrous than either chamois or deer droppings.

Read more about this species

Himalayan Tahr (thar)

Himalayan tahr droppigns are usually dark brown pellets, cylindrical in shape and about 15 × 7 mm in size. Large piles of Himalayan tahr droppings can be found around vegetated bluffs, where this gregarious animal congregates. The droppings will almost always be found in alpine (rather than forested) areas, most commonly between 1,400-1,700 m above sea level.

The pellets can be clumped into larger droppings but these fall apart into individual pellets.

Can be confused with:

Himalayan tahr pellets could be confused with those from chamois, red deer, and sheep, and possibly brushtail possum and brown hare, but are fairly uniformly cylindrical in shape.  Although chamois latrine areas do sometimes occur, they are less likely to be from as large a group as with tahr.

Read more about this species

Fallow deer

Fallow deer droppings are usually observed as groups of pellets, but the pellets can be scattered as they walk along. Sometimes they adhere to each other forming a larger dropping. When they are fresh, they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown, but over time dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. The size of pellet groups varies with age and sex of the animal, but in New Zealand they contain an average of 52 pellets. Individual pellets are approximately 10 × 10mm in size. From a distance, they look like small balls, but on closer examination they are seen to be elongated and more pointed at one end. Fallow deer can also have latrines where repeat urination in the same place kills grass.

Can be confused with:
Fallow deer droppings can be confused with the droppings of other deer species in areas where their range overlaps, as well as with the droppings of sheep, goats and chamois.

Read more about this species

Sika deer

Sika deer droppings are usually observed as groups of scattered pellets. They are usually less adherent than pellets from red deer, so are less likely to be stuck together. When they are fresh, they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown, but over time dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. Individual pellets are approximately 10mm to 15 mm long by 8mm to 12 mm wide. From a distance they look like small balls, but on closer examination are found to be elongated and more pointed at one end. Pellets can be irregular in shape.

Can be confused with:
Sika deer droppings can be confused with the droppings of other deer species in areas where their ranges overlap.

Read more about this species

Rusa (Javan) deer

Rusa deer droppings are usually observed as groups of scattered pellets. Sometimes they adhere to each other forming a larger dropping. When they are fresh they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown, but over time they dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. From a distance they look like small balls, but on closer examination they are found to be elongated and more pointed at one end. In size they are somewhat smaller than sambar deer pellets which average about 20 × 10mm, but the size range of each species overlaps making them largely indistinguishable.

Can be confused with:
Rusa deer droppings can be confused with the droppings of other deer species in areas where their ranges overlap, and with goat and sheep droppings.

Read more about this species

White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer droppings are usually observed as groups of scattered pellets. Sometimes they adhere to each other forming a larger dropping. When they are fresh, they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown, but over time they dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. From a distance they look like small balls, but on closer examination they are found to be elongated and more pointed at one end. White-tailed deer droppings look rather like red deer droppings, but the individual pellets are a bit smaller (about 8mm to 16mm in size).

Can be confused with:
White-tailed deer droppings can be confused with the droppings of other deer in areas where their range overlaps.

Read more about this species

Sambar deer

Sambar deer droppings are usually observed as piles or groups of scattered pellets. Sometimes they adhere to each other forming a larger dropping. Droppings (pellets) are black, pointed at one end and about 20 × 10mm. They are often found in vegetation cover around the edge of pasture, where sambar deer like to pause before venturing out into the open at night to feed.

Can be confused with:
Sambar deer droppings can be confused with other deer species in areas where their range overlaps.

Read more about this species

Red deer

Red deer droppings are usually observed as groups of scattered pellets. Sometimes they adhere to each other forming a larger dropping (see clumped droppings). When they are fresh, they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown, but over time dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. The size of pellet groups vary with age and sex of the animal, but in New Zealand they have been observed to vary between 18 and 359 pellets and cover an average area of approximately 50 × 65mm. Individual pellets are approximately 20× 20mm in size. From a distance they look like small balls, but on closer examination are elongated and more pointed at one end.

Can be confused with:
Red deer droppings can be confused with droppings from other deer species in areas where their ranges overlap.

Read more about this species

Wapiti

Wapiti produce droppings similar to those of red deer. The droppings are usually observed as groups of scattered pellets. When they are fresh, they have a moist appearance and are either black or dark brown but, over time, dry out and fade to a dull light brown colour. The size of pellets varies with age and season and, in Fiordland, the degree of hybridisation with red deer. The pellets of pure wapiti in North America are 11–17 mm in diameter and 13–25 mm long, slightly larger than those of red deer (13-18 mm diameter and 20-25 mm long). From a distance they look like small round balls but on closer examination are elongated and more pointed at one end.

Sometimes, when the pellets are moist, they adhere to each other forming a larger clumped dropping.

Can be confused with:

Wapiti droppings can be confused with droppings from other deer species. It will not be possible to reliably differentiate wapiti pellets from those of red deer in areas where their ranges overlap, with the possible exception of large-bodied, pure wapiti that have escaped from farms.

Read more about this species

Hedgehog

Droppings are usually deposited singly, are glossy black (with a dark greenish colour for fresh droppings), 20-50 mm long and 7-10 mm wide (about the thickness of a pencil). Latrines of more than 50 droppings have been found in New Zealand. Droppings are usually are quite dry, and mostly contain tightly packed recognisable fragments of invertebrate exoskeletons such as beetle carapaces, head or body segments. However the content will depend on what they have been eating and can also include eggshell fragments, feathers and bits of lizard.

Can be confused with:
The dryness and particulate texture of hedgehog droppings, from excreting insect parts, is quite different when compared to mustelid (stoat, weasel and ferret) or cat droppings. Mustelid and cat droppings are very pointed at either end, while hedgehog droppings are relatively blunt in comparison. Mustelid droppings are usually also twisted; hedgehog dropping may be curved, but are generally not twisted. Cat droppings have segments; hedgehog droppings do not.

Read more about this species

Cat

Cats are often secretive and therefore droppings (called scats) are usually the most obvious sign of a cat in the neighbourhood. Droppings are buried close to home, but left exposed further afield, often in a conspicuous place such as on tracks, or on clumps of grass. Droppings are made up of three to six round to elongated segments that are up to 100-150mm long and 30mm wide. They can be twisted within themselves and have pointed ends. Droppings are dark in colour, not white and chalky. They will contain matted fur, feathers and/or bones. Seeds are sometimes found as part of the stomach or crop contents of ingested prey.

Can be confused with:
Dog droppings can look similar, but will age to a white and chalky colour whereas a cat’s droppings will not. Mustelid (stoats, weasels, ferrets) droppings are also twisted with pointed ends, but don’t usually have separate segments and are considerably thinner.

Read more about this species

Weasel

Weasel droppings are long, thin and taper towards a twist at each end. They are hard and black when dry and are often left in a conspicuous position (e.g. on top of a rock) because they are used for territorial marking. Droppings are typically 30–60 mm in length, can be curled, and will be full of feathers, fur, bones, or insect cuticle. Droppings can be found in groups, referred to as a weasel midden, in which the droppings may differ in age. 

Can be confused with:

Stoat droppings are virtually identical, except that weasel droppings are usually smaller, but not reliably so. Ferret droppings will be larger than weasels' but size could overlap between weasel and juvenile ferret droppings.  Cat droppings are rounder in cross-section and segmented.  Hedgehog droppings look more granular and are not as pointed at the ends.

Read more about this species

Stoat

Droppings are long, thin and taper towards a twist at each end. They are hard and black when dry and are often in conspicuous positions e.g. on top of a rock (this is because they use them for territorial marking). Droppings are typically 40–80 mm in length, can be curled, and will be full of feathers, fur, bones, or insect cuticle.

Can be confused with:
Other mustelids (ferrets and weasels), although ferret droppings are larger. There is also potential to confuse with hedgehogs if a stoat has been eating a lot of insects .

Read more about this species

Ferret

Ferret droppings are long, thin and taper towards a twist at each end. They are hard and black when dry and are often left in conspicuous positions (e.g. on top of a rock) for territorial marking. Droppings are typically 40–70 mm long and 10 mm wide. They can be curled, and will be full of feathers, fur, bones, or insect cuticle. They are difficult to distinguish from stoat or weasel droppings, but they will on average be larger. Older droppings have a paler colour.

Can be confused with:
Stoat and weasel droppings are very similar; ferret droppings tend to be longer and wider but not reliably so. Juvenile ferrets could produce droppings of the same size as adult stoats or weasels. Cat droppings are rounder in cross section, smoother and segmented.  Hedgehog droppings look more granular and are not as pointed at the ends.

Read more about this species

Rainbow lorikeet

Rainbow lorikeet droppings vary with diet but because the diet usually includes lots of juicy vegetation, fruit, and nectar, they are often runny and sticky. As with most bird droppings, there may be a white cap or white streaks from the excreted uric acid.

Can be confused with:

Rainbow lorikeet droppings can be confused with the droppings of other birds.

Read more about this species

Australian magpie

We have no specific information aboujt magpie droppings.

Can be confused with:

We have no detailed information but magpie droppings are likely to look similar to those of other bird species.

Read more about this species

Rook

We have been unable to find any specific information about rook droppings. We would be pleased to receive informatio.

Can be confused with:

Can be confused with the droppings of other bird species

Read more about this species

Canada goose

Canada geese produce very large droppings that can be up to 100 mm long. Droppings are cylindrical and five to eight times longer than wide. Fresh droppings are greenish and coated with white nitrogenous deposits. The light green of fresh droppings will darken over a few days and old weathered goose droppings can look tan and more fibrous.  The white layer weathers off. Because geese have a rudimentary digestive system, they eat often and expel undigested remains quickly. Adult geese produce 1/2 to 1½ kilos of droppings per day per bird. Sites where Canada geese are numerous can get covered in droppings, so that they appear clumped together. Pathways covered in droppings can be common beside lakes, rivers and estuaries.

Can be confused with:

Droppings of other large and moderately-large waterfowl and wetland birds such as swans, ducks (especially paradise ducks) and pūkeko. Pūkeko droppings are much smaller, drier and more fibrous in appearance. Black swan droppings tend to be larger, a bit longer and much fatter. Mallard droppings are smaller, often deposited in groups, and can also be so runny as to have little form. Paradise duck droppings look very similar but are smaller than Canada goose droppings.

Read more about this species

Not the droppings you were looking for?

Have a look at all our droppings clues.