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Old 03-19-2014, 09:27 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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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.
  #2  
Old 03-19-2014, 09:42 PM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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I'm sure it was a rabbit. They're timid little creatures.

You know, no guts.
  #3  
Old 03-19-2014, 09:43 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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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.
  #4  
Old 03-19-2014, 09:55 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
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.

Last edited by John Mace; 03-19-2014 at 09:55 PM.
  #5  
Old 03-19-2014, 10:00 PM
nevadaexile nevadaexile is offline
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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.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:07 PM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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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.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:41 PM
Red Stilettos Red Stilettos is offline
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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.
  #8  
Old 03-19-2014, 10:47 PM
AndrewL AndrewL is offline
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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.
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Old 03-19-2014, 10:49 PM
nevadaexile nevadaexile is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndrewL View Post
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.
  #10  
Old 03-19-2014, 10:52 PM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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This sounds like the type of thing that results in those "Cow Mutilation" and similar urban legends.
  #11  
Old 03-19-2014, 11:08 PM
Blake Blake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
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.
  #12  
Old 03-19-2014, 11:40 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nevadaexile View Post
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.
  #13  
Old 03-19-2014, 11:54 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blake View Post
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.
  #14  
Old 03-20-2014, 12:31 AM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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It could have been something like a crow or raven. Not a hunter but a carrion feeder.
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Old 03-20-2014, 12:35 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Ranger Jeff View Post
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.
  #16  
Old 03-20-2014, 12:43 AM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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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.
  #17  
Old 03-20-2014, 01:56 AM
John Mace John Mace is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
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 View Post
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.
  #18  
Old 03-20-2014, 11:55 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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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.
  #19  
Old 03-20-2014, 12:29 PM
AHunter3 AHunter3 is offline
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Another vote for kitty cat. They definitely leave little gutpiles behind when they feed. Sometimes the kindly present them to their humans.
  #20  
Old 03-20-2014, 12:35 PM
Jonathan Chance Jonathan Chance is offline
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Yeah, I had a cat that would go after young rabbits and leave the intestines behind. Gross, really.
  #21  
Old 03-20-2014, 03:00 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is offline
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My guess would be a 5 year old sociopath.
  #22  
Old 03-20-2014, 03:04 PM
Emiliana Emiliana is offline
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I thought the internal organs were the tastiest parts? Not speaking personally here.
  #23  
Old 03-20-2014, 03:13 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Originally Posted by Emiliana View Post
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.
  #24  
Old 03-20-2014, 03:40 PM
Emiliana Emiliana is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
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!
  #25  
Old 03-20-2014, 05:47 PM
chiroptera chiroptera is offline
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Originally Posted by Colibri View Post
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.
  #26  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:07 PM
blondebear blondebear is online now
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Quote:
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This sounds like the type of thing that results in those "Cow Mutilation" and similar urban legends.
Ah, the old Cattle Mutes scenario!
  #27  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:15 PM
Ulfreida Ulfreida is offline
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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.
  #28  
Old 03-22-2014, 11:28 AM
Zulema Zulema is offline
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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.
  #29  
Old 03-22-2014, 12:00 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
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 View Post
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.
  #30  
Old 09-06-2016, 12:35 PM
tommy_toto tommy_toto is offline
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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.
  #31  
Old 09-06-2016, 12:59 PM
beowulff beowulff is offline
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Originally Posted by tommy_toto View Post
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.
You're going to fit in quite nicely around here...
  #32  
Old 09-06-2016, 01:13 PM
Chronos Chronos is offline
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Quote:
Quoth dropzone:

Not eating the gall bladder makes sense since bile is nasty,...
So that's what the green wobbly bit is!
  #33  
Old 09-06-2016, 01:44 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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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.
  #34  
Old 09-07-2016, 08:14 AM
duncs duncs is offline
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So that's what the green wobbly bit is!
You'll have to taste it to be sure
  #35  
Old 09-07-2016, 08:55 AM
Francis Vaughan Francis Vaughan is offline
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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.
  #36  
Old 09-09-2016, 12:11 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
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.
  #37  
Old 09-12-2016, 05:35 AM
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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.
  #38  
Old 09-12-2016, 11:48 AM
Disgscen Disgscen is offline
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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.
  #39  
Old 10-24-2016, 02:57 PM
mjg311 mjg311 is offline
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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.
  #40  
Old 10-26-2016, 12:51 AM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Stilettos View Post
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.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 10-26-2016 at 12:52 AM.
  #41  
Old 03-11-2017, 04:45 PM
harpswell harpswell is offline
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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.
  #42  
Old 03-11-2017, 05:11 PM
P-man P-man is offline
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The dog I had as a kid would start with the head on smaller rabbits, but went for the innards first on bigger ones.
  #43  
Old 03-11-2017, 05:24 PM
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I'm not saying it was aliens, but it was aliens.
  #44  
Old 03-11-2017, 05:30 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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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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