by Treloar Bower, Curator of Education
Not five feet from my front door, my mom and I spotted this nice pile of scat one recent morning. My family and I live just west of Windsor. The Poudre River is a few miles to the east of their house. The landscape is mostly scrubby fields dotted between the manicured and well-watered lawns of several housing areas. The neighborhood itself is hopping with cottontail rabbits. Out for a walk with my dog last night, I counted eight rabbits. That’s a great buffet just waiting for a carnivore right there.
One carnivore, the bobcat, will eat “anything that moves,” but it’s generally believed that they prefer cottontails. After consulting a scat field guide (not to mention viewing the little hairs impacted in the scat), I think the scat we found is from a bobcat. Given the choice of prey all around the area, it makes a lot of sense.
I love the fact that at some point one night, while my family slept, a bobcat walked right by the front door. If not for the deposit that bobcat left, we would never have known. We spend so much time viewing “deposits” left by people (buildings, roads, billboards) on the landscape that we forget about all the ways animals leave signs of their passing, too. Fur and feathers; tracks and scratch-marks; nests and egg shells; burrows and of course scat … it’s all there for us to see! We may not get to observe the animals that actually left those things but how wondrous that we can see the evidence of their presence if we just keep our eyes open.
Every second Saturday of month (and this one is coming right up), the Museum hosts two programs: Meet the Animals and Tracks, Scat and Fur. At Meet the Animals, our visitors can interact with some of the animals from our living collections. At Tracks, Scat and Fur, visitors can see the tracks and scat of many of the mammals of our region, and kids can make their own track “field guide” to take home. It’s a great way for people to learn how to “match the evidence” with the “culprit,” if you will!