Identify Scat in Backyard: Fox? Coyote? or other animal? Corvallis, OR

Asked June 8, 2018, 2:15 AM EDT

I am trying to identify this scat in the corner of my backyard. There are seeds which vaguely resemble cherry pits, but I'm not sure if those are in season now (early June.) I've read that if it is fox, be careful because rabies can be transferred to humans and other pets and animals, and the rabies can be transferred and survive in the soil beneath. Is this true, and would this be true if it were coyote or other wild animal? We live in the city / country interface, so such animals might be expected to wander through from time to time. The photo shows the scat in relation to the front of a boot and walking stick, for scale, and the black patches on the ground are old pieces of a tarp or other man-made material.

Benton County Oregon

1 Response

If the diameter of the scats is 3/4" or more, we can rule out foxes. However, gray fox, raccoon, and coyote scat diameters and contents can overlap, especially in an sub/urban setting. The pictured scats appear to be multiple deposits, which can denote a marking post (coyotes commonly do this), but it is also typical of raccoon latrines. I agree with the pits not being cherry due to timing, but the seeds/pits in there might be hawthorn or one of the other common landscaping trees.
Rabies needn't be a concern from the scat. Rabies is transmitted through bites (saliva) and scratches (saliva or blood transfer). However, scat quite often might have parasites or eggs within. Because we have raccoons around and because we can't rule them out from the current photo, I want you to be very especially careful about disposing of /handling those scats because of the risk of raccoon roundworm. The CDC provides excellent information on safe latrine clean-up:
Feel free to write back with further information on the scats if I can be of help in narrowing down a source.