It still amazes me that my professional life can be so focused on the end product of the digestive workings of the animal kingdom. I am talking about Feces, Dung, Poop, Manure, S_ _ _ and Shinola, Droppings, Night Earth of the slumbering water buffalo. CRAP!
As a young man raising swine for FFA, I became aware that manure and its removal or use was a large part of the agricultural process. Chicken house Droppings composted for the garden, still make the best tomatoes taste better. Horse stall barn hay was always saved for the Rose bushes. And PIG Poop well it just covered their pens and was a mess to clean up. If you ever have to wash a pig for a livestock show, bring a good bristle brush.
There was always a dog around my house growing up too. Large Dobermans and small Dachshunds can both leave a back yard full of land mines for bare feet and sports games. And don’t even mention that time on the Smith Family hunting trip that someone’s pooch rolled in a “cow pie”.
When you become a Pest Management Professional the identification of pests focuses on the many attributes of an organism. And the easiest factor for identification of some pest are their feces. In a structure that is infested with fleas, our industry emphasis is on proper preparation by the client. One important area of pre-treatment inspection is a couch or chair. Removing cushions will sometimes reveal a large collection of salt & pepper like objects that are flea eggs and blood feces. Removal of these can prevent rehydration of the feces and prevent blood stains from staining fabrics and other surfaces. You really don’t want a CSI episode on your watch.
Like Fleas, Bedbugs also leave a blood feces. Theirs is more of a spotting than a dropping than a dropping though. Bedbugs leave behind shed skins and eggs as well.
The Blattodea , which contains the Roach family, leave All of these and more. The size and shape of the feces can even give you an identification of the variety. Blatella germanica can carry disease organisms and their droppings have a unique odor. The feces and shed skins are known allergens and have been shown to be large contributing factors to Asthma attacks in children in economically depressed living conditions. The emitted odor is attributed to the spotty black feces. It serves as a marker that signals to others that this is a safe habitat. Many will gather in those spots, and the Rave is on.
Large Roaches are usually classified as Occasional Invaders. They are often associated with wet, transition areas or the outside of a structure. Their Droppings serve the same purpose as their smaller cousins. The pheromones left behind in the Droppings mark the infected area as a safe place. When disturbed they will return to those safe areas, some by flying. They are not attacking when they fly at you. You are just in their way.
Their Feces can be somewhat large as well. Clients have sometimes believed that they have mice instead. The large Roach has a great need for moisture control. That is why they appear waxy, and their feces have ridges where the lower digestive track has squeezed out as much moisture as possible for retention before release.
The Commensal Rodents (Man’s Table) are often identified through Droppings only. The droppings of a house mouse are small, pointed and approximately 1/4inch in length. It does Not have the ridges on the sides.
The large Commensal Rodents are the Norway Rat (King Olaf) and the Roof Rat. Norway rats are the big boys of the commensal rodents. They are omnivores and grow to be up to two pounds. They can form burrows around a structure or live in woodpiles or other safe habitats. Their droppings are large, blunted and about 3/4 of an inch long from mature animals.
The Roof Rat is the acrobat of the commensal rodent world. He can walk wires, jump from tree to tree, climb to great heights, and will be that clawing, scratching sound coming from above the ceiling in the middle of the night. As vegetarians they will eat fruits and nuts, and grow at their largest usually no more than one pound. You need to be slim to fly without wings.
Rodents can cause serious damage to structures, food sources and storage. The use of traps and Rodenticides need to be used with extreme caution. Accidental poisonings are horrific. And, the springs on traps are hard on one’s fingers. Professional help is always recommended.
I have had clients say that they think I must be as crazy as a Mississippi Squirrel for some of the places I have crawled into. Who doesn’t like Ray Stevens? You meet the most interesting things under houses. The lady below was just hanging around for dinner! there has not been a rodent at this house in years I am told.
Pest Management Professionals and Entomologists ( Board, Associate, or amateur) are different, and we accept that. We are the kind of people that are always looking for a challenge. I have never met anyone like the fellow below at any professional meeting of colleagues. I love the dedication to the hunt Walken’s character gave in the Mouse Hunt movie. Don’t think I would hire him for a tech position though . Cow Bell ringer, Maybe!So, please do not sniff, taste, or handle Droppings without using proper Personal Protective Equipment. And only a lab technician can tell the sex, nutrient deficiencies and place of origin from Feces.
I have chased many a rodent around many a structure for more than twenty-five years. It can be frustrating. Ok, at times I have almost felt like the guys below.
When the client calls and says – Hey, they’re back!