Mystery poop

While tromping through the hills today, I cut through an olive orchard and headed down the well-trodden path, only to stop at the sight of a poop on the trail. Something in it had caught my eye. And because yes, I am the kind of person who pokes poop apart with a stick, I soon determined that what had caught my eye was an olive pit. There were half a dozen in there, it turned out.

All the way home I was trying to figure out what would eat whole olives. It had looked like a carnivore poop, or at least an omnivore one. Definitely not an herbivore poop.

Javali, or wild pig, seemed like the most likely animal to be munching olives off the ground. But I’ve seen what the landscape looks like after a javali has been through, and you can’t miss that kind of destruction. There was no sign of that in the orchard.

Fortunately, my wife is a zooarchaeologist and as such, she knows who eats what. She said “fox,” so I looked up fox poop in our mammal guide (every mammal ID guide worth its salt has line drawings of feces), and lo, that was it! Turns out that foxes eat all kinds of things, including fruits and vegetables. I’d never imagined them eating olives, but there you go. You learn something new every day.

I crossed paths with a fox. Cool.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in life, Portugal, science. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Mystery poop

  1. K-K says:

    Pretty cool Fletcher.

    When we moved back to my home place in the country there were many sounds that I took for granted. Elizabeth however was not amused. After muting the tv for a commercial break she heard a very high pitched keening sound. She asked me what it was. I nonchalantly said “oh that’s just coyotes”. As I stated earlier she was not amused.

    She’s gotten pretty used to all the night sounds now. The lone wolf howl does still freak her out though.

    Ain’t it cool to have a wife who can just rattle that stuff off the top of her head.

  2. M. says:

    LOL. I am pretty sure our foxes don’t eat olives. Olive trees don’t grow around, so… But I don’t have to dig with a stick in half-meter deep snow looking for poop of a fox to know what they eat. I saw one last week stealing scraps of pork fat and bread I left in orchard for birds.

  3. Karen says:

    Just so I can learn two new things today, please tell me what a zooarchaeologist does. Is it the study of animal fossils?

    • oregon expat says:

      No, that’s a paleontologist. A zooarchaeologist studies animal remains (bones and shells) in the context of human activities and societies. A great example of that would be the shell middens of the Pacific Northwest Indians.

      • MJ Valente says:

        Sometimes we also study mummies or very (very, very) old poops. These last ones have a very pompous name: coprolites. πŸ™‚

      • MJ Valente says:

        Or with coprolalia, which is a involuntary utterance of obscene words, etc. (Which would happen to me if I saw our cat committing coprophagia.)

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