When I was still a biology student in Córdoba, I went through different stages that you might found a bit strange…
One of them was studying and keeping a collection of animal feces, you might not believe this but you can actually learn a lot on animals that are rarely seen just by the traces they leave behind. For example, it’s possible to know what they eat, where they are and much more.
During a trip at the Sierra las Quijadas National Park in San Luis, with my school, I remember not seeing many mammals but if we could get an idea of their whereabouts it was thanks to their… poo.
Since the air there was dry, I could keep them for years in a box in my library with the name “Excrements”, much to the surprise of my friends who came to visit and who demanded explanations on the contents of the box!
Another collection, also as astonishing, would be owl pellets. I know it doesn’t sound good, but it’s only small dry balls of material that can’t be digested by the owls: bones, feathers, fur, insect wings.
I was always happy to find these little pellets on camp and I would spend hours examining them thoroughly and try to identify the species of rodent the owls ate thanks to the shape of the teeth. There’s something for every taste, you must be thinking, am I wrong?
Once, we were given a young caiman, he was dead and frozen.
He came from the farm from the Granja La Esmeralda and while we transported him from Santa Fe, I was praying that he wouldn’t melt too much and that nobody see the tip of his tail.
One time, a classmate and I wanted to see the stomach content of different green parrots that we had obtained already dead and that I had stored in my freezer.
They were in a well sealed bag and I had already told my mom several times that it was best that she didn’t ask what was in the bag, and that surely she would prefer not know what’s in the bag that lying amidst her steaks and ice.
My friend came to the house to do the experiment, but we hadn’t defrosted them before them and we didn’t have a lot of time, we decide to put them in the oven.
Once they had softened, we cut them open, saw their insides and concluded that they had eaten seeds.
As we were done with the experiment and the cleaning, my mom just arrived home from work and said to us: “You’re baking cookies, that’s nice!”
Author: Helena Arroyo
Translation: Noëlla Moussa