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-   -   What small predator would do this? (warning: kinda gross) (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=718781)

John Mace 03-19-2014 09:27 PM

What small predator would do this? (warning: kinda gross)
 
So, I'm at someone's house this morning, and I notice something really disgusting on their side walkway: the complete internal organs of a small mammal. Not scattered around, but all together as if they had been surgically removed. Probably a rat or a rabbit (I think the latter, due to the size) but that isn't want I'm wondering about.

What sort of predator would leave those remains? No fur, no skin, no bones, just the entire set of internal organs-- heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, intestines... I'm assuming it was a cat, but I've never heard of them regurgitating internal organs.

Location: Near San Jose, CA, in an area where you would routinely find bobcats and coyotes, but also plenty of domestic cats and dogs. The homeowner has no pets, but the property definitely has some rats and quite a few rabbits.

Amateur Barbarian 03-19-2014 09:42 PM

I'm sure it was a rabbit. They're timid little creatures.

You know, no guts.

HoneyBadgerDC 03-19-2014 09:43 PM

My first guess would be a hawk, could the entrails be from a pigeon by chance. Coopers hawks are pretty commonly doing what you describe.

John Mace 03-19-2014 09:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC (Post 17212252)
My first guess would be a hawk, could the entrails be from a pigeon by chance. Coopers hawks are pretty commonly doing what you describe.

Could be. This is a very upscale neighborhood with homes typically on on an acre or more. It's suburbia, but with a very rural feel.

Definitely was not a honey badger, though. ;)

nevadaexile 03-19-2014 10:00 PM

It could also be an owl. Do you hear one at night outside your home?

If you want to see if a predatory bird is in your neighborhood (if you are curious) drive around in about a mile or so radius and look at high structures, tall trees and any exposed areas at height around your neighborhood. Chances are you'll see one or more raptors (excluding owls, as most are nocturnal) roosting up there.

John Mace 03-19-2014 10:07 PM

I've seen owl "after-meals" and that is a bundle of bones and other things. This was only internal organs. Nothing else. Pristine internal organs.

Red Stilettos 03-19-2014 10:41 PM

One of our cats would do this. I don't think they were regurgitated. I think they were carefully eaten around. He would also leave the feet. He'd catch a chipmunk and eat the head, the fur, the tail, everything except the organs and the feet. He was a strange cat. Very sickly too, which made his hunting prowess even more impressive.

AndrewL 03-19-2014 10:47 PM

Owls swallow their prey whole. It wouldn't be an owl.

Might be a cat. I've seen cats carefully eat prey and leave a small pile of untouched innards.

nevadaexile 03-19-2014 10:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndrewL (Post 17212422)
Owls swallow their prey whole. It wouldn't be an owl.

Might be a cat. I've seen cats carefully eat prey and leave a small pile of untouched innards.

An owl can't swallow another bird "whole."
It's just a too big.

UncleFred 03-19-2014 10:52 PM

This sounds like the type of thing that results in those "Cow Mutilation" and similar urban legends.

Blake 03-19-2014 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by John Mace (Post 17212320)
I've seen owl "after-meals" and that is a bundle of bones and other things. This was only internal organs. Nothing else. Pristine internal organs.

There is a difference between where an owl has eaten and where it has made a kill. It's common for owls to disembowel their prey, and even clip the tail off, to reduce weight so they can carry it somewhere safe to eat it.

Without further information, owl is as good a guess as anything else. It could be a cat but they will generally eat the liver at least.

Colibri 03-19-2014 11:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nevadaexile (Post 17212432)
An owl can't swallow another bird "whole."
It's just a too big.

Of course it can. Owls swallow smaller prey whole, including small birds and rodents. Here's a picture of a Tawny Owl swallowing a rat. Many birds can swallow surprisingly large prey.

Colibri 03-19-2014 11:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blake (Post 17212481)
There is a difference between where an owl has eaten and where it has made a kill. It's common for owls to disembowel their prey, and even clip the tail off, to reduce weight so they can carry it somewhere safe to eat it.

Without further information, owl is as good a guess as anything else. It could be a cat but they will generally eat the liver at least.

I think it's much more likely to have been a cat or other small mammalian predator. I doubt that an owl (at least any North American species) would have left such a tidy package behind. An owl or other raptor disemboweling prey would probably have made more of a mess.

Ranger Jeff 03-20-2014 12:31 AM

It could have been something like a crow or raven. Not a hunter but a carrion feeder.

Colibri 03-20-2014 12:35 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ranger Jeff (Post 17212612)
It could have been something like a crow or raven. Not a hunter but a carrion feeder.

I'd be surprised if a carrion feeder was so dainty.

HoneyBadgerDC 03-20-2014 12:43 AM

When the op said sidewalk I kind of assumed a tree lined street and a bird dropping leftovers out of a tree. re-reading I don't see any mention of trees.

John Mace 03-20-2014 01:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UncleFred (Post 17212436)
This sounds like the type of thing that results in those "Cow Mutilation" and similar urban legends.

Yes, this was one of my first thoughts (even though I know that stuff is totally bogus).

Quote:

Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC (Post 17212624)
When the op said sidewalk I kind of assumed a tree lined street and a bird dropping leftovers out of a tree. re-reading I don't see any mention of trees.

Imagine a walkway on the side of a house. There are lots of trees on the property, some very big like mature redwoods, but none within 25 ft of where the entrails were. This was a neat little packet. It was eerily so. Like I said-- no bones, no fur, no body parts... just organs like they had been removed as a whole.

Colibri 03-20-2014 11:55 AM

I once found a packet of internal organs as you describe, but they were mouse-sized rather than rabbit sized and there was also a picked-clean skull next to it. I assumed it was done by a weasel, as being the only predator I could think of of the appropriate size.

AHunter3 03-20-2014 12:29 PM

Another vote for kitty cat. They definitely leave little gutpiles behind when they feed. Sometimes the kindly present them to their humans.

Jonathan Chance 03-20-2014 12:35 PM

Yeah, I had a cat that would go after young rabbits and leave the intestines behind. Gross, really.

Rachellelogram 03-20-2014 03:00 PM

My guess would be a 5 year old sociopath. ;)

Emiliana 03-20-2014 03:04 PM

I thought the internal organs were the tastiest parts? Not speaking personally here.

Colibri 03-20-2014 03:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Emiliana (Post 17214497)
I thought the internal organs were the tastiest parts? Not speaking personally here.

The liver and heart might be. However, if it's a small herbivore the predator might not want to eat the stomach and intestines if they are filled with plant material.

Emiliana 03-20-2014 03:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Colibri (Post 17214530)
The liver and heart might be. However, if it's a small herbivore the predator might not want to eat the stomach and intestines if they are filled with plant material.

But a side salad goes so well with liver!

chiroptera 03-20-2014 05:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Colibri (Post 17214530)
The liver and heart might be. However, if it's a small herbivore the predator might not want to eat the stomach and intestines if they are filled with plant material.

Or the bile duct, which can be incredibly nasty-tasting even to a dedicated predator. Same with the bladder.
I had a hunter-cat years ago who would do exactly this - eat almost the entire north end of his prey, but leave parts of the south end intact. On my kitchen floor, quite often, so I'd step on the entrails on the way to the coffee pot.

blondebear 03-20-2014 06:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by UncleFred (Post 17212436)
This sounds like the type of thing that results in those "Cow Mutilation" and similar urban legends.

Ah, the old Cattle Mutes scenario!:D

Ulfreida 03-20-2014 06:15 PM

My cat used to leave this kind of present in the bath tub almost nightly. My corgi got in the habit of checking first thing in the morning. By the time I got up, if lucky, there would just be a stain left. Or a set of rodent teeth.

Zulema 03-22-2014 11:28 AM

I also vote for cat. My cats have all done this.

We used to have a cat who would catch bats and eat everything except the guts and the wings. He would also eat all of a rabbit except for the guts and the feet. We now have a cat who will eat the rabbit from the waist forward.

dropzone 03-22-2014 12:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chiroptera (Post 17215043)
I had a hunter-cat years ago who would do exactly this - eat almost the entire north end of his prey, but leave parts of the south end intact.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Zulema (Post 17219580)
We now have a cat who will eat the rabbit from the waist forward.

They are following some of the rules, but you should tell them that rabbits aren't remotely kosher.

Not eating the gall bladder makes sense since bile is nasty,* and the large intestine is gross, but most dogs would be like Ulfreida's and scarf it up. Little stays in a dog's mouth long enough for them to taste it.


* - You know it's time to get your gall bladder out when the dry heaves turn into the green heaves because you are puking so hard you're squeezing bile past the obstruction, through your small intestine and stomach, and out your mouth. And you don't care because the pain goes away.

tommy_toto 09-06-2016 12:35 PM

You are not alone
 
I know this is an old thread, but there aren't exactly a whole bunch of recent, appropriate threads to choose from. Thank God.

John Mace, you don't know how happy I was to find this thread. (And finding it just goes to show that you really can find ANYTHING on the Internet.)

With the exception of location -- I'm in New England -- your post describes exactly the lovely little package I found on my walkway as I went to the car this morning.

No other critter parts to be found, just the entire internal organ set. No overhanging tree branches: if this was dropped by an owl or raptor, it would have had to have flung it at least 15 feet horizontally from the closest tree branch.

I guess I will convince myself that this was indeed the handiwork of a domesticated cat that happened upon an unlucky bunny. I certainly prefer that theory to being targetted by an obscure, suburban voodoo cult. :eek:

beowulff 09-06-2016 12:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tommy_toto (Post 19608715)
I know this is an old thread, but there aren't exactly a whole bunch of recent, appropriate threads to choose from. Thank God.

John Mace, you don't know how happy I was to find this thread. (And finding it just goes to show that you really can find ANYTHING on the Internet.)

With the exception of location -- I'm in New England -- your post describes exactly the lovely little package I found on my walkway as I went to the car this morning.

No other critter parts to be found, just the entire internal organ set. No overhanging tree branches: if this was dropped by an owl or raptor, it would have had to have flung it at least 15 feet horizontally from the closest tree branch.

I guess I will convince myself that this was indeed the handiwork of a domesticated cat that happened upon an unlucky bunny. I certainly prefer that theory to being targetted by an obscure, suburban voodoo cult. :eek:

You're going to fit in quite nicely around here...

Chronos 09-06-2016 01:13 PM

Quote:

Quoth dropzone:

Not eating the gall bladder makes sense since bile is nasty,...
So that's what the green wobbly bit is!

Malthus 09-06-2016 01:44 PM

Another vote for cat. Ours deposits little gut packages on our walkway. It is astonishing her ability to carefully separate the meat from the guts.

duncs 09-07-2016 08:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chronos (Post 19608828)
So that's what the green wobbly bit is!

You'll have to taste it to be sure :p

Francis Vaughan 09-07-2016 08:55 AM

My cats catch rabbits - and for reasons that seem to defy explanation, they start with the head. Then they work their way down. Usually, but not always leaving the gut. Sometimes they even eat the green wobbly bit. But they seem to dislike the ears and feet. At least sometimes all I will find is a pair of ears and a foot. This morning I was presented with a headless rabbit on the dining room carpet.

What I find astounding is that a cat will sit down and methodically grind up a rabbit skull, and keep going all the way down. One would imagine that more efficient order would be to go for the soft bits first.

It is probably this ability to eat the entire animal, bones, fur and all, but draw the line at the gut that accounts for such neat packages. Of course there may be a truly disgusting hairball thing to be deposited on the kitchen floor sometime in the future that accounts for some of the remains.

aruvqan 09-09-2016 12:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chiroptera (Post 17215043)
Or the bile duct, which can be incredibly nasty-tasting even to a dedicated predator. Same with the bladder.
I had a hunter-cat years ago who would do exactly this - eat almost the entire north end of his prey, but leave parts of the south end intact. On my kitchen floor, quite often, so I'd step on the entrails on the way to the coffee pot.

Banzai was trained to eat his kill in the bath tub [I got tired of that wet squelchcrunch of stepping on a gift mouse and would grab him and his kill and drop them into the tub and slide the door closed until he was finished eating so he learned to just take them in there without gifting me =) ] He usually left the skull, feet and tail, and whatever organ is greenish purple swirlies and about the size of a kidney bean from mice.

appleaday 09-12-2016 05:35 AM

I once encountered the opposite situation: two slabs of flesh, no fur, no bones, no guts. Found it in my backyard, by a cement pathway. One of my cats could have dragged it there, but they don't leave behind such tidy kills. Extremely weird, especially as I had walked down that path about a half hour previous, and there was nothing there.

Disgscen 09-12-2016 11:48 AM

I've seen a hawk do this on numerous occasions, outside my place in Chicago. It tears apart the meal wherever it catches it. If it's in a tree, there will be a mess below. If it's on the ground, it'll be a neat little packet. Usually pigeons, but squirrels too. It's fascinating to watch. Nasty, too.

mjg311 10-24-2016 02:57 PM

I hope this thread is still active(!).

We found a rabbit, apparently skinned and elongated by some creature, in our back yard last night, when taking the dog out one last time for the day. The head and all feet were intact, but there was no evidence of any loose fur or skin anywhere to be found, on or around the poor bunny. When we first identified that it actually was a rabbit, which took a while by the way based on its condition and the way it was lying, it appeared that the flesh was completely intact. Upon trying to lift it to remove it from the yard so that the dog wouldn't get into it today, we saw that it's other side had some chunks removed from the flesh and that organs were exposed. It seemed to be a fresh kill yet, as there was no odor but the bunny was quite rigid, and we're sure it wasn't there earlier in the evening.

So my question to you folks in this forum: does that sound like a owl or possibly fox-type kill description? I know I've heard an owl hooting in the backwoods behind the house on some or most evenings, and in about the last couple months, we've seen a fox crossing the street several houses away. Our dog surely wasn't involved...

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Spectre of Pithecanthropus 10-26-2016 12:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Red Stilettos (Post 17212404)
One of our cats would do this. I don't think they were regurgitated. I think they were carefully eaten around. He would also leave the feet. He'd catch a chipmunk and eat the head, the fur, the tail, everything except the organs and the feet. He was a strange cat. Very sickly too, which made his hunting prowess even more impressive.

Any time you see the words "entrails" and the phrase "kinda gross", a cat is likely to be involved. We had an oudoor-indoor cat when I was growing up and he would do this too.

Back when organ meat used to be more popular among humans they were said to be rich in nutrients; livers are supposed to be a good source of B vitamins for example. I'm surprised that the natural instinct of the cat wouldn't be to gobble the innards down as well.

For smaller animals like mice they will often eat them whole, starting at the head biting bits off, chewing, and swallowing much as you or I would eat a Danish.

harpswell 03-11-2017 04:45 PM

A friend of mine had a barn owl (rescue) that lived for a while in their kitchen. They would feed it rats, and in the morning, the owl would have eaten it all, except for the entrails, which were carefully arranged across the dial of the rotary phone. Therefore: owl.

P-man 03-11-2017 05:11 PM

The dog I had as a kid would start with the head on smaller rabbits, but went for the innards first on bigger ones.

obbn 03-11-2017 05:24 PM

I'm not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.

nearwildheaven 03-11-2017 05:30 PM

All I could think of was one very sick person who did this as a prank, but some of you are saying otherwise. That's somewhat of a relief.


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