The small size of baby animal sign can be misleading, as in a recent case of mystery droppings.
Jeff Mason, of Wellington, noticed two groups of small droppings in his garage but could find no sign of either an animal or insect. He contacted Pest Detective asking for help to identify what he described as “1-2 mm ball bearing-shaped black droppings.”
From the description, we weren’t sure. The smallest droppings of any of the species featured on our Culprits page are those of plague skinks, at 2-5 mm length, but plague skink droppings are cylindrical in shape. Mice are the next smallest but their droppings are typically 4-7 mm in size and are also cylindrical. So are weta droppings.
We thought it most likely that the droppings were from some kind of insect.
Meanwhile, Jeff had solved the mystery.
“I found a dead baby rabbit in the garage just now,” he wrote. “I can only assume he climbed into the wheel arch last Sunday when I was at golf.”
Jeff then sent a photo of the droppings, which showed they were actually a bit bigger than originally thought, at approximately 3-6 mm in diameter. The bigger size, rounded, slightly oval shape and colour fitted our rabbit dropping clues.
The case of the baby rabbit was solved with a timely reminder that, while both size and shape matter in identification, young animals will leave clues that don’t fit the typical adult size range.
Photograph: by Jeff Mason