Rick Haddrell recently sent in this photo, taken on his Waitomo farm. He was unsure as to whether it was a cat or hedgehog dropping.
We think it is a cat dropping due to the size, the smooth, elongated shape with visible segments and the rounded cross section. Hedgehog droppings are smaller, tend to be blacker in colour and drier. Or, could it have been from a mustelid?
‘He waka eke noa - All hands on deck’ is the theme of this year’s Biosecurity Week.
According to the New Zealand Biosecurity Institute (NZBI), we’re all in the waka together when it comes to protecting New Zealand’s native biodiversity and primary industries from invasive species.
NZBI is the professional organisation of people involved in all aspects of biosecurity in New Zealand. Institute President, Darion Embling, says that New Zealand has some very ambitious biosecurity goals, which will need technology, innovation and plenty of people power.
There’s nothing like a lifetime’s field observation to learn how to read animal sign. We’ve added audio clips of long-time rabbiter, the late Jack Powell, describing some of the rabbit sign he would look for when out in the field.
Jack knew how to read the landscape for signs of pest animals and he understood their behaviour.
In the following audio clip he describes how he would gauge rabbit populations over large areas of rabbit-prone country in the South Island.
Listen to Jack Powell, courtesy New Zealand Biosecurity Institute.
Possums are the prime suspects behind the bark damage that has killed numerous fivefinger trees on a Coromandel property.
When Annette Steele and Ben Hunter returned home last spring after some months away they noticed the trees had been extensively ringbarked. Some were already dead. The others, already stressed by the damage, died during the dry summer that followed.
Annette referred to Pest Detective to help identify the bark munchers. The long, straight scrape marks with a darker line down the middle pointed to possums, rabbits or hares. All three species make such marks with their front incisor teeth.
However, rabbits and hares were ruled out because the damage was too high (extending up to more than a metre above ground). The shady forest interior was also not typical rabbit and hare habitat.
This close-up of possum fur is one of several new 'body covering' photos in the 'other clues' group on our Clues page, where clues such as an animal's smell, its sound, bite marks, characteristic eye shine and geographic distribution are also featured.
Body covering includes fur, feathers and, in the case of the plague skink, the scales that cover reptilian skin. These can be helpful identifiers, whether sighting the actual animal or finding traces of fur or feathers left behind.
Plague skinks have been discovered in Marlborough in the South Island. Although they have been spreading in the North Island for some time, this is the first time they've been observed in the South Island.
It is likely that plague skinks are being spread to new locations by accident, when they are inadvertantly transported in goods - especially potted plants.
So, be alert to signs of the species. If you live in an area where plague skinks are known to occur, including the latest area in Marlborough, or travelling through these areas, take care to check that you are not being a carrier.
What to look out for?