Tales From the Tail End

Animals have some interesting ways to deal with their waste. Chinstrap and Adélie penguins like to keep clean. So, they shoot their poop far away from their bodies. Silver‑spotted skipper caterpillars use poop to keep predators away. They eject their feces far from their nests.

Lots of animals mark their territory with their waste. Hippos spin their tails like propellers. This spreads their poop over a wide area.

Naked mole rats roll in their poop. This marks them as a member of their clan.

keeps tidy

Adélie penguin

sends a message


Sending a Message

Peccary poop is used as a kind of a message board. These wild pigs from South America tend to poop in a big pile. Each time a peccary goes, it sniffs the pile to find out what’s going on and who else was there.

Giant river otters also send a message. The message is: Stay away! These otters live in family groups in rivers in South America. They create special places where all the otters poop. The stinky mess keeps other animals away.

Dung beetles in Africa roll balls of other animals’ dung. They eat part of it and lay eggs in it. When the babies are born, they have an instant food source.

Turkey vultures poop on their own legs and feet. This cools them off. It also cleans away any germs they get from the dead animals they devour.

feeds the family

dung beetle

cools off


Better Out Than In?

If the purpose of pooping is to get rid of things the body doesn’t need, why do some animals eat poop? Some animals can’t get enough nourishment from their food the first time they eat it. So, they eat it twice by eating their own poop.

There’s another reason, too. Koalas, for example, eat eucalyptus leaves. These are tough and hard to digest. Special microbes in their stomachs help break down this food. They make it easier for koalas to eat. When a baby koala is born, it doesn’t have these microbes. So, the mother will feed the baby some of her poop. That helps the microbes start to grow in the baby’s stomach. Poop is remarkably useful.

Now that you know more about it, you may never think of it the same way again!

feeds the baby