Animals often leave so many tell-tale signs of their presence. While animal droppings can be distinct for each animal, some animals such as rabbits and deer can have such similar-looking poop that they can be hard to tell apart.
Wouldn’t it be niche to know if you have a big buck in the area or just a couple of bunnies?
What is the Difference between Deer and Rabbit Poop?
Looking at these droppings more closely, you’ll notice the many differences that deer poop and rabbit poop have. These differences include size, shape, color, and location.
However, these two forms of animal droppings can look very similar at first glance. They are both small and pellet-shaped as opposed to other animals’ long logs of poop.
They can also be found in clusters depending on where they are encountered.
How Does Deer and Rabbit Poop Differ in Size?
While both forms of poop can look remarkably similar at first glance, deer and rabbit poop appear in different sizes.
This is mainly due to the immense size difference between the two animals and, therefore, the difference in the sizes of their colons.
As the larger animal, Deer tend to have larger size poop pellets than rabbits. These pellets can measure up to 1 to 2 inches with a diameter of approximately 0.5 to 0.6 inches.
On the other hand, rabbits have much smaller pellets that reach only 0.2 to 0.5 inches in diameter all around.
This size difference between the two makes them much easier to differentiate at first glance.
How Do Deer and Rabbit Poop Differ in Shape and Texture?
Another tell-tale sign between deer and rabbit poop is the shape and texture.
Deer poop, given its difference in dimensions, has a more elongated pellet shape. They may resemble ovals with a distinct indent on one end as well as a pointed end on the other side resembling bullets or cones.
While deer pellets generally sport a smoother texture than rabbit pellets, their texture can also largely depend on the food they consume.
Round, firm, individual deer poop pellets can indicate a consistent diet of twigs, acorns, nuts, and oats.
On the other hand, softer pellets arranged in clusters can mean the intake of more delicate food such as fruits, berries, leaves, and the like.
Given their smaller size, rabbit pellets exhibit a more spherical shape with equal diameters all around.
Unlike typical poop, rabbit poop does not have a soft or squishy texture. They are consistently firm to the touch with rougher and fibrous surfaces. Applying pressure to these pellets should break open to reveal a dry, grainy interior.
Soft or squishy ball clusters that may exit the rabbit’s anus are probably cecotropes or cecal pellets. These are food pellets formed inside the rabbit’s body out of partially digested food remnants.
They are excreted through the anus and are meant to be consumed by the rabbit directly from the anus.
Despite their pungent smell and similarity in appearance, these cecotropes or cecal pellets are not to be confused with actual rabbit poop.
How Do Deer and Rabbit Poop Differ in Color?
The color of these two animals’ poop also differs due to their different eating habits. The color of their poop can also be affected by other factors such as their current health status and bodily functions.
The color of the deer droppings is heavily affected by the deer’s diet. It can be considered a great indicator of what this animal was eating.
Usually, the deer’s droppings appear dark brown to black due to the natural breakdown of dead red blood cells and bile in the body.
However, it can also appear reddish-brown, orange, yellowish-brown, or green, depending on the deer’s diet.
Green deer poop can also indicate diarrhea or insufficient bile breakdown in the deer’s body.
Rabbit poop is also affected by their diet and can appear in different brown, black, and green shades.
If it consumes a lot of hay, this animal’s poop can appear almost golden, while large consumption of greens can lead to greener or darker brown shades.
Rabbit poop may also have plant or grass pieces mixed in with their poop as these components of their diet can be harder to digest and break down.
Where do Deer and Rabbit Poop?
Poop can be a great indicator of different aspects of an animal’s life. It can tell a hunter, predator, or other animals where they eat, where they sleep, or where they live.
As rabbits and deer live different lives, they can vary in the locations where they choose to leave their droppings.
Deer can leave droppings in paths, fields, and woodlands. Usually, scattered poop in an open space can indicate the presence of a feeding spot.
Poop clumped together or gathered in a specific area can also mean the presence of a bedding or sleeping area.
Rabbits, on the other hand, poop in designated areas called latrines. These areas are often found close to their burrow entrances.
This is their way of marking their territories or homes and can also be exhibited by rabbits raised domestically.
What Kind of Microorganisms Can Be Found in Deer Poop and Rabbit Poop?
These unsuspecting piles of poop may be just little piles of pellets to you. Still, these droppings can be bearers of many microorganisms that can affect livestock, pets, and even humans.
Deer poop can bear different microorganisms in their poop, wreaking havoc on those who ingest it, especially dogs.
Exposure to deer feces can cause various diseases. You don’t even have to ingest it. Even exposure through swimming or touch can lead to the potential risk of developing an infection.
Deer poop can be carriers of bacteria such as Escherichia coli or parasites such as Dicrocoelium dendriticum and Fasciola parasites which can have harmful effects on the body’s digestive tract (stomach and intestines) and biliary tract (liver and gall bladder).
Animals who ingest deer poop can also be at risk of developing CWD or Chronic Waste Disease. This disease attacks the brain causing loss of weight and eventual death of infected animals.
Rabbit poop isn’t safe either, as accidental ingestion and contact can lead to many diseases due to the many microorganisms one can get from it.
Most commonly, rabbit droppings can carry Cryptosporidium parvum, a parasite that can cause Cryptosporidiosis that can attack your intestines. Rabbits can also be carriers of other parasites such as tapeworm and roundworm.
Rabbit poop may also cause pulmonary disease or more severe disease through bacterial infections.
Are There Other Animals With Similar Looking Poop as the Deer and Rabbit?
If you thought that deer and rabbit poop was confusing, then wait until you get a load of the droppings of elk, hares, goats, and moose.
Elk is a close relative of the deer and can produce similar-looking stool. The only difference is that the elk is considerably larger and thus produces larger droppings. Their poop is twice as big with a diameter of around 1 inch.
Hares also expel pellet-type poop that are slightly flatter than deer and rabbit poop. Like rabbit poop, they are fibrous and harder with more prominent bits of plants. They are also said to exhibit a sweeter smell than rabbit poop.
Goats’ poop pellets can also be mistaken for rabbit or deer poop. However, because they have much more similar diets, this horned animal’s poop resembles deer poop more.
You can usually tell it’s goat’s poop if you find traces of human leftovers or trash in poop.
Moose poop, on the other hand, also comes out in pellets but is much larger. Their pellets can have diameters that reach a minimum of 1 inch but are usually much larger.
They are also usually fewer in distribution because of the moose’s solitary nature.
Why Do Deer and Rabbit form Poop in Pellets?
One thing that sets deer and rabbit poop from other animal poop is that they are formed in pellets. This happens due to how these animals’ excretory systems work and expel poop from their bodies.
Other animals have great control over their rectums and sphincters, which is why they can expel long logs of poop.
In the case of the deer and the rabbit, they have little to no control over the way poop exits their body, thus, causing this animal’s unique stool formation.
In the deer’s case, the unique formation of its pellets is largely due to the way its colon works. The deer’s colon works in a rhythm that automatically opens and closes its sphincter.
Instead of continuously coming out as logs, the rhythmic opening and closing of the sphincter sort of cuts the poop into smaller pieces which we recognize as the pellets.
The colon is the main culprit for the shape of the rabbit’s poop as well. Since they are small animals, their internal organs, such as the colon, are also small.
This can lead to poop getting “balled up” in this tiny organ, forming its unique circular pellet form.
In addition to that, the rabbit’s rectum also rhythmically expels poop. This rhythmic opening and closing allow them to produce these pellets in equal size and shape.
Deer poop and rabbit poop are fascinating things. Their unique pellet shapes may confuse others, but once you know what to look for, you can easily differentiate the two based on their shape, size, and color.
These tiny pellets also pack quite the package. Despite technically being waste products, they can still serve various purposes such as scent markers, health indicators, and carriers for different parasites and diseases that can infect humans and surrounding animals.