Fishing Cat Mystery Question: And the answer is….(PHOTOS)
Caption: Photo of a wild fishing cat taking a poo. Used with permission from Ruj, research assistant on the Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project.
Poo, or scat as it’s referred to by any self-respecting scientist, can tell us a lot about a fishing cat, and it’s featured prominently throughout the CAT in WATER project. (Sometimes in more ways than either of us want to think about. Check out our earlier post, Shit on a Scorpion.)
The size, shape and content….yum, yes, I just said content…all tell us different things about the animal that left it. Rip Ear, our “model” who so kindly took a shit in front of the camera for us, left a poo that we could later analyze.
Shape tells you what animal popped a squat. A long, narrow cylindrical shape with a flat end on one side and pinched end on the other signals a fishing cat poop.
Don’t be fooled though. This cat is not a one-note pooper. Some scat has feathers, some has fur, and some is white indicating that fishing cats ate bird, rat and fish respectively.
While on this trip, Namfon found the biggest fishing cat poop she’d ever seen. This indicated two things. The cat was a male, and the cat was a big male. Little known fact, fishing cats eat about 10 percent of their body weight in a day. To put that in perspective, the cat weighs between 13 and 26 pounds.
There is at least one more big thing poop can tell us about the fishing cat….what it is for sure, real-life, actual, big-time. It is not enough that it looks like fishing cat scat. DNA samples help confirm it.
So there you have it. I know poop can tell us more about animals, such as whether it’s sick, but these are the main ways that poop help Namfon and her crew find out what’s going on in the life of the fishing cat.