Wild ride Children

Watch out for that poop!

Pooping is part and parcel of the lives of all creatures in the animal kingdom.

On several of my sojourns into the wilderness, I have come across the poop of wild animals — the bullet-like pellets of deer which have an indentation on one end and a point at the other; the whitish scat of their predators, the leopards, which often have monkey fur in them; and a voluminous mound of poo that has to belong to an elephant.

You might be amazed to learn that there are people who study the faeces or poop of animals to find out about their diet, whether they have any diseases, more about their habitat and to identify them. And this study is called scatology.

Weird wild

The instincts of rhinos lead them all to poo in the same spot. This habit of theirs has unfortunately made it easy for poachers to hunt them.

The hippopotamuses first swish and swing their tails in a circle as if it were some kind of fan and then shower the poo in all directions, probably to mark their territory.

Amongst mammals, baby koalas take the cake. The little joey simply relishes his mother’s poop or pap which contains certain microbes that help counteract the toxins in the eucalyptus leaves that he also fills himself with.

Owls have this disgusting habit of ejecting some of their unwanted food from their mouths. They spit out pellets of undigestible fur and claws that belong to their prey.

Vultures, who are scavengers that eat the flesh of dead animals, take in so much protein that their poo is concentrated with acid and it can actually burn up the leaves of the trees they roost on.

The dung roller beetles deserve a special award for cleaning the environment and recycling. They live in balls of animal dung, feed on the dung and even lay their eggs and make their homes in the dung.

For people living on the islands off the coast of Peru, the guano or poop of the Peruvian guanay cormorant is as valuable as gold. Since these birds feed on anchovies that contain a kind of oil, their guano makes for very rich fertilizer which is exported to other countries. In fact, the economy of these islands depends on cormorant guano. For this reason, the birds are considered valuable and are protected by the government.

In our country, cow dung is considered invaluable. It is largely used in the rural areas to line the walls and floors of homes, as it gives a cooling effect. Dry dung is also used as fuel and of course, as manure in the fields.


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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 7:19:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/watch-out-for-that-poop/article30733015.ece

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