Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Tracking the Cami de Cavalls: Scat # 2

Scat # 2 was found in an elevated position on a dry sandy bank immediately beside the trail, in an area enclosed on both sides by dense scrub, the time was approximately 7.00am. When found the scat had been deposited singly and was still fresh, with a glistening wet sheen to it. It is approximately 1cm in length and has a solid teardrop shape, with one end wider and thicker and the other tapering and narrow. Scat # 2 is black in colour. No tracks could be found in the immediate area of deposition and there were no obvious runs through the undergrowth. No similar droppings were found in the immediate area. Scat # 2 was photographed approximately 36 hours after collection by which time it had dried considerably. When Scat # 2 was broken up it was found to consist of insect elytra and small fragments of snail shell, many of which still retained their original colour. There was no noticeable smell to Scat # 2 either it its fresh or desiccated state. The size and teardrop shape of Scat # 2 are characteristic of the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). As an opportunistic and highly adaptable species that has made ready use of its association with humans the Brown Rat has now colonised all but the most isolated and inhospitable parts of the world, it’s presence on Menorca perhaps linked to the islands importance as a strategic navel base for the western Mediterranean. Those who are interested are referred to my article on the identification of a Brown Rat skull posted on this blog in February 2009.

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