THE POWER OF POOP
EVERYBODY POOPS. BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT SOME ANIMALS’ POOP IS USEFUL? SOME WILDLIFE USE POOP FOR PROTECTION. OTHERS ARE SAVING THE PLANET WITH THEIR POOP. THAT’S SOME POWERFUL POOP IF YOU ASK US!
KEEP THE PLANET COOL
All the damage humans have done on the environment has made the Earth warmer and that’s bad news for us and the animals that live here. Luckily, some of Canada’s birds are fighting back. Their weapon? Poo. That’s right! Some of Canada’s seabirds, like puffins and terns, are working to cool down the Arctic with their poop. Here’s how it works. These birds love to chow down on fish and fish are jam packed with a chemical called nitrogen. When the birds poop they release ammonia (a gas) into the air that helps to cool the Arctic.
Some birds, like the American Robin, take nice baths to cool off. Other birds, like the Turkey Vulture, poop on themselves. It might not be the cleanliest of options, but it certainly seems to get the job done! When Turkey Vultures poop on their own legs, they bring down their body temperature — pretty important when you’re living in a hot climate. Some scientists believe that the poop can disinfect their legs from the yucky bacteria they may have picked up while scavenging for road kill.
You’re pretty vulnerable when you’re a caterpillar. That’s why some caterpillars have come up with a creative way to defend themselves from predators. When caterpillars defecate (poop) they throw it as far away from themselves as possible. It’s actually pretty impressive. They can fling their poop up to 40 times their body length! When a predator, like a wasp, goes looking for tasty caterpillars to snack on, they make a bee line to the excrement (the poop). It’s the proof that a caterpillar should be close by. You can only imagine their confusion when they start looking around and can’t find a caterpillar. Pretty smart, if you ask me!
PROTECT HOME BASE
Wild cats like to keep their home base top secret to protect them from other cats or predators. One of the main ways they can do that is by burying their feces (poop). Bobcats and Canada Lynx will hide it by covering if up with snow, leaves or dirt. However, sometimes wild cats want to claim a territory as their own. They do this by leaving their feces uncovered at the edge of their range as a warning to other wild cats to think again before trespassing.
Did you know rabbits have two different kinds of poop? One kind look like pellets — it’s hard and dry; the other is soft and is called cecotrope. Try saying that one out loud! It’s pronounced “seek-a-trope.” Now guess what they use it for. Eating. Yup. They eat this poop (usually at night time) but they do it for very good reason. When they’re young, they rely on their parents’ cecotrope to create a healthy system in their gut. Without it, they just won’t be very healthy. When they grow up, they keep their gut healthy by eating their own cecotrope. Grossed out yet?