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I ran across three trees (all with cavities) that had mounds of these small droppings at their base. These were approximately 50-100 meters from the shore of a salt marsh on the east end of long island.

We don't have porcupines, and I've never seen such piles associated with squirrels, so my first thought was bats. Any ideas?

Oak Tree

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ What is the size? perhaps something is living in the tree and that's the resulting midden. Bats dump under their roost. I think it's some social rodents. $\endgroup$ Apr 5, 2021 at 18:04
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    $\begingroup$ They are quite small. In the middle photo you can see an acorn for scale. $\endgroup$
    – That Idiot
    Apr 5, 2021 at 19:08

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UPDATE: I was not paying close enough attention to size. If the feces is as small as the OP mentions in the comment below this post ("20+ of these scat in an acorn"), then this is very unlikely porcupine!! Instead, the size and shape suggests the feces belong to either a rat (perhaps wood rat) or some type of squirrel.

  • I await an update form the OP with more specifics before diving deeper...

Hollowed-out tree? Pile of pellet-like feces? End of Winter/start of spring?

Almost assuredly these belong to a porcupine.

enter image description here

Source: user Thomas at http://livingprimitively.com/2012/05/

The North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum), which can be found throughout Canada and much of the northern US, is present in New York.

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Source: NH PBS

  • Animaldiversity.org suggests that porcupines are primarily tree dwellers in the state of NY.

    • For a suburban example like yours, see here.

Although porcupines do not hibernate, they reduce their range significantly during the winter and will tend to accumulate large piles of scat in and near their winter den (or suite of dens -- source). Although caves are ideal as they keep porcupines warmer, they also will frequently use hollowed-out trees as winter dens.

Since the inner bark of trees is a favorite food of porcupines (source), they will linger quite a bit around their den tree or other nearby trees if available.

Porcupine scat matches what you've found. Scat is oblong, slightly curved, and composed mostly of sawdust (due to their high wood diet) [Source: here]. According to Northwoodguides:

Wood fibers are evident in their scat. Scat may be piles of pellets varying in length from 1/2 to 1 inch long or it may be present in a chainlike pattern connected by wood fibers. Color varies from season to season depending on diet but is usually brown to black.

This site also has some good info, photos, and videos.


It is unlikely your scat belongs to another mammal such as a flying squirrel. Although flying squirrel poop looks similar and is smaller, their feces will not be notable woody as they eat lichens, fungi, berries, leaves, and other non-woody foods. Source. This site suggests that flying squirrel scat can accumulate at the base of a tree, but I have not seen this nor do the other characteristics match your almost textbook example of a porcupine "poop tree."

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  • $\begingroup$ Perspective and scale are really difficult in images like this, but doesn't it seem like the scat in OP's picture is far smaller than 1/2 inch? Certainly seems smaller than that in your picture. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 5, 2021 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ I am confident we do not have porcupine in the area. $\endgroup$
    – That Idiot
    Apr 5, 2021 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ Also I'd estimate that you could fit 20+ of these scat in an acorn - second photo $\endgroup$
    – That Idiot
    Apr 6, 2021 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Bryan yeah, I guess after viewing these photos on my computer screen, the scat does seem quite small. I had not really focused much on the OP's middle picture. Hmm, perhaps flying squirrel, then. That Idiot, can you describe the scat? Was it dry and woody/saw-dusty, or moister and seemingly made out of other food stuffs? $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2021 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ThatIdiot wow, ok, if they're that small, then definitely not porcupine. Feces that size and shape likely belongs to either a rat (wood rat) or some type of squirrel. You could look into the snag to see if there's any sign of a nest or drey that might help with ID. Getting an exact scat size and more commentary about its texture and contents could also significantly help. $\endgroup$ Apr 6, 2021 at 2:12
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This has been identified as scat from flying squirrels (Glaucomys volans) by several biologists in the county. It is apparently the first documentation of the species in this area.

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