Nearly all animals poop. It’s how their bodies get rid of solid waste. The waste could be food that their bodies can’t break down. It could also be gross things like germs.

The study of poop is called scatology (ska‑TALL‑uh-gee). When an animal poops, or defecates, its poop is packed with information. It can tell us what kind of animal left it and when. It can tell that animal’s age, size, and gender.

Not all animal poop is the same. An adult African elephant can drop more than 136 kilograms (300 pounds) of poop every day! Squirrels poop bean‑size droppings. Wombats poop out cubes.

The purpose of poop goes beyond just getting rid of waste. Poop can spread seeds. It can create sandy island beaches. It can mark turf and even scare other animals away.

Poop With a Purpose

The tambaqui fish is a fruit- and seed‑eating fish in the Amazon. It eats the seeds of water plants. Seeds that aren’t digested are pooped out and get “planted” elsewhere.

plants seeds

tambaqui fish

makes sand


Have you ever been to a white‑sand beach? You may have been standing in parrotfish poop. Parrotfish nibble on coral reefs. When it’s time to poop, they poop out sand—bits of crushed corals. The sand washes ashore and piles up.

Leaf beetles cover their eggs in poop that then hardens. The larvae later break a hole in these cases.

leaf beetle

leaf beetle

makes homes


Humans’ solid waste is called stool, feces (FEE‑seas), and excrement (EX‑crum‑ent). Animals’ waste has different names, too. Here are a few examples:

castings – worms

droppings – birds

dung – cattle, elephants

fewmets – deer

frass – insects

guano – bats, seabirds

scat – wild animals

spraints – otters