Droppings in the garden is a clear sign that animals are there or crossing out. By determining animal excrement, the animal species can be identified in order to initiate appropriate control measures if necessary.


The appearance, smell and size of animal droppings cannot be clearly described in order to always be able to carry out proper identification. Animal age, type of feeding, state of health and time of year/weather, and the time between dropping and sighting are just a few examples that can cause changes and make identification of animal excrement more difficult. In the following, however, typical features of animal faeces from a wide variety of animals are described, which generally allow the respective animal species to be recognized or at least allow a distinction to be made between different animal groups.

Badgers, squirrels and hares

Dachs (Meles meles)

Although the badger only rarely moves into a garden, it is still attracted by food leftovers, various types of vegetables and fruit, as well as insects and earthworms. Especially the latter can have consequences for hobby gardeners, because earthworms are an important element of the microorganism. Although badgers are very shy animals and quickly disappear, they often come back. The badger can be identified from the animal droppings:

  • Color: brown, gray
  • Consistency: medium-soft, mushy to firm, dry
  • Shape/size: depending on the consistency, flat-like with a diameter of up to three centimeters or sausage-shaped up to 1.5 centimeters long
  • Odour: from mild to strong unpleasant, depending on food intake
  • Special features: they often defecate near the entrance to their badger’s burrow, recognizable as a long hole in the ground – often containing leftover food from berries or insects – similar to that of the fox

Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

The cute rodents are mostly man’s friend and are subject to special protection. Its animal excrement is an important detail in determining whether a squirrel is in the garden, especially in autumn/winter, so that garden owners can provide food . Her legacy can be recognized by the following characteristics:

  • Colour: dark brown to black
  • Consistency: firm structure – predominantly hard and dry
  • Shape/size: cylindrical, individual, small pieces of faeces, approximately up to 0.4 centimeters long
  • Odor: usually odorless
  • Special features: often contain visible food residues

Feldhasen (Lepus europaeus)

The presence of brown hares in the garden is annoying at the latest when they attack the salad and vegetable beds. Whether brown hares are the culprits of gnawed plants can be easily determined from the existing animal excrement.

  • Colour: dark brown during the summer months – yellowish to light brown in the winter months
  • Consistency: hard in adult animals, softer in young animals
  • Shape/size: round, small poo, often several in a group, five millimeters to one centimeter in diameter depending on age
  • Odor: almost odorless
  • Special features: animals that are loyal to their location, often eat animal faeces to cover their nutritional needs

fox, dog and hedgehog

fuchs (fox)

The fox is mostly out and about at night. Animal excrement is therefore usually found in the morning. In particular, they are deposited in the immediate vicinity of compost heaps or rubbish bins because the fox is looking for food here. Since it is not without risk when a fox roams the garden, measures should be taken as soon as possible.

  • Color: black, gray, gray-black
  • Texture: slightly softer texture when fresh
  • Shape/Size: Sausage shape, tapering, about five to eight centimeters, rarely ten centimeters long, two centimeters in circumference
  • Odor: penetrating, unpleasant, to be smelled over a wide area
  • Special features: Similar to the animal droppings of badgers and martens, often contains leftover food such as seeds or hair
Note: Be careful when disposing of fox droppings. Rabies, fox tapeworm and fox mange can be transmitted to humans and pets if contact is made. Legacies should therefore always be safely sealed in the household waste and not disposed of in the garden.

Dogs (Canidae)

If you don’t own a dog, but there is “suspicious” animal excrement in the garden, you can quickly find out whether it is dog excrement by looking at the properties.

  • Colour: medium to dark brown
  • Consistency: firm structure – predominantly medium-hard
  • Shape/size: like a sausage, depending on the size of the dog, up to ten centimeters long, usually two to three pieces of faeces
  • Odour: unpleasant after elimination
  • Special features: resembles human excrement

Igel (Erinaceidae)

Hedgehogs like to hang out under leaves, but often wander through the garden in search of food. Animal droppings are not particularly dangerous. It is easy to identify and can be safely disposed of.

  • Colour: dark black, mostly shiny
  • Texture: slightly softer texture when fresh
  • Shape/size: cylindrical shape, one end tapers to a point, length between three and four centimeters, circumference about one centimetre
  • Odour: mild
  • Special features: drop droppings while moving, which can result in a kind of trail – often containing leftover food

cats, mice and martens

Cats (Felidae)

If there is a pungent and foul smell in gardens, the excretions of various animal species can be the cause. In order to know whether it might be the neighbour’s cat, the following identifying features are used:

  • Colour: deep brown
  • Consistency: firm structure – predominantly medium-hard
  • Shape/size: elongated sausage shape about two centimeters long
  • Odour: strikingly unpleasant, strong, penetrating
  • Special features: visually resembles the excrement of martens, but in contrast to this it is often buried in soft earth or sand

Mice (Mus musculus)/voles (Arvicolinae)

Mice are very quick and difficult to spot. Although they do not represent a fundamental problem for some, they can cause entire areas of the earth to collapse by building burrows. They create an increased risk of accidents for people. Anyone who suspects mice on the property should look for animal droppings that look like this:

  • Color: black, brown, black-brown, greenish and greyish
  • Consistency: solid substance
  • Shape/Size: Size and shape roughly like a grain of rice
  • Odor: odorless
  • Special features: older animal excrement can have whitish tips at the ends
Note: Mouse droppings are carriers of the dangerous hantavirus, among other things, which can damage the kidneys. When disposing of it, special caution is advised with safety precautions so that particles are not inhaled and/or get into the mucous membranes.

Marder (Mustelidae)

Once a marten has arrived in the garden area, it usually doesn’t take long for plants to be eaten and fruit crops ruined. By then, at the latest, the marten will also gnaw at hoses on vehicles. A marten trap can help, but the animal should first be clearly identified, which is easy to do with its droppings:

  • Colour: dark gray to black
  • Consistency: firm
  • Shape/Size: Spiral and/or sausage shape, usually two centimeters thick and up to ten centimeters long
  • Odor: intense, strictly unpleasant
  • Special features: often contain visible plant remains (e.g. from nuts or fruit stones), changing “toilet places”

wandering and house rats

Rats (Rattus)

Nobody wants rats in the garden or in the immediate vicinity. If it rustles and crackles, a rat is not to be expected in the open air. If you want to be sure, keep an eye out for the animal excrement. This can not only be located near where the unwanted garden visitors are staying. But it can spread everywhere where rats make their rounds. When determining animal droppings, a distinction is made between brown and black rats:

Identify brown rat droppings:

  • Colour: brown to black
  • Consistency: firm, mostly dry
  • Shape/Size: Spindle shape, usually two centimeters long, thicker in circumference than black rat excrement, rounded ends
  • Odour: acrid depending on consistency
  • Special features: tighter “pile arrangement” than in house rats

Recognize rat droppings:

  • Color: Black
  • Consistency: very firm and dry
  • Shape/size: curved (like bananas), rounded ends, up to two centimeters long, slimmer in shape than brown rat excrement
  • Odour: pungent
  • Special features: single legacy with further distance to the next animal droppings

Deer, raccoon and wild boar

Rehe (Capreolus capreolus)

Legacies from deer are rarely found in city gardens, if at all. The wild animals are usually limited to the rural area. If herbs, flower buds or young shoot tips have been eaten, a deer may have been visiting. However, they often appear in groups, so that the damage to the plants can be clearly seen.

  • Colour: dark brown to shiny black
  • Consistency: slightly soft, yielding
  • Shape/size: round poo, mostly flattened at the ends – about 1/2 centimeter long, circumference one centimeter
  • Odour: very mild
  • Special features: Larger accumulations of faeces possible in summer

Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Raccoons love garbage cans, where they find their food and are therefore often in the city. They are nocturnal animals, which is why animal excrement was not usually deposited fresh during the day. To do this, the raccoon, like the badger, builds a latrine (cave), for which it likes to use trees and elongated burrows.

  • Color: brown to dark brown, sometimes black, gray-black
  • Consistency: medium-soft to firm
  • Shape/Size: Sausage shape, up to about three/four centimeters long
  • Odor: pungent, pungent
  • Special features: reminiscent of a puppy’s droppings, fur and leftover food may be included

Wild boar (Sus scrofa)

If the garden suddenly looks like it has been vandalized, then wild boars were probably at work here. The slogan, as the excrement of this animal species is also called, provides precise information about this. These can normally be recognized by the following characteristics:

  • Colour: dark gray to deep black
  • Consistency: medium-soft
  • Shape/size: individual droppings, which mainly form a sausage or lump shape, size about 7 centimetres
  • Odor: intensely unpleasant, slightly rotted scent
  • Special features: Wild boar visits rarely take place without leaving a password

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