The Scoop on Poop

The Scoop
on Poop
Remember last week when we talked about
digestion?…. We discussed how food is processed
and ends up in the large intestine or colon. When
your body uses all the nutrients it can, it needs to
eliminate the waste. That waste becomes
POOP and Urine.
The Process of Elimination
What you eat effects what you
poop. High fiber foods like
vegetables create bigger stools.
So does eating raw foods. Lots of
meat and completely cooked foods
produce smaller, darker stools.
On average, people produce
about an ounce of poop for
every 12 pounds of body
weight each time you poop.
For example, a 96lb kid might
flush away a ½ pound of poop
in a single session!
Besides food waste, poop is
also made up of worn-out
blood cells, germs and worms
that try to live in your gut!
Can you figure out what type of
foods might change the
color of your poop?
Let’s try:
Eating this will make
your poop turn
darker than normal.
Red meat will turn your
poop darker. This is fine,
just darker.
#2 (ha ha ha)
Eating this will
make your poop
turn red.
The vegetable
beets will turn
your poop red.
Fresh or
pickled beets.
This drink
(most of you probably have
it every day)
will give your poop a
yellowish tinge.
Got Milk?? It can make your
poop have a yellowish tinge.
But it still
does a
Want to make your
poop turn GREEN?
Try eating this!
Eat blackberries to turn
your poop
History of the toilet
We all take for granted the use of a toilet – we just go to the
bathroom. It wasn’t always so convenient. Imagine
having to run outside in the middle of a cold night?
In medieval times,
some castles had
toilets, but they
forgot the plumbing.
The toilets would
empty out through
small windows or
long chutes into a
hole in the ground
or into a nearby
river or moat.
History of the toilet
Toilet and
Chamber pot
The ancient Romans had a goddess named Cloacina, who was in charge of
toilets and sewers. STERCUTIUS was the god of odor. (Stercutius was one of
Saturn’s surnames, given to him when he carpeted the earth with dung to make
it fertile.)
In the ancient Roman city of Ephesus, rich citizens sent their slaves to the public
bathrooms to warm up the cold marble toilet seats for them.
English king Henry the Eighth had a toileting stool covered with black velvet and
studded with 2,000 gold nails
In1596, Sir John Harington designed a flush toilet, but buildings had no indoor
plumbing to bring in water to make a toilet flush. So people kept pooping in
outhouses or inside chamber pots and throwing their waste out their windows
onto the city streets. The flush toilet didn’t get used for a couple of hundred
If you spoke French, and were a courteous person, before you pitched the contents of your chamber pot
out your bedroom window (day or night) you would yell, “Gardez l’eau!” In English that means “Watch out
for the water!” Instead of pronouncing “l’eau” “low,” the chamber-pot-pitchers of England pronounced it
“loo.” With the invention of toilets, the English dropped the habit of tossing pee out windows, but they didn’t
drop the term “loo.” So, if you ever visit England, be thankful that their l’eau now stays in the loo.
Many people believe that plumber Thomas “Crapper” invented the flush toilet, but he didn’t. He did make
improvements, but his name stuck.
In Iceland years ago, it was considered rude to leave the dinner table to pee. The daughter of the house
would supply a chamber pot while other diners politely grunted so they couldn’t hear its user.
Waste Disposal
Throughout History
In Ancient Rome, some
women drank turpentine
(which can be poisonous!)
because it made their
urine smell like roses!
Until 200 years ago,
European women peed
standing up because of
their clothes. They wore
long dresses and NO
necessary, they could
stand and pee – hopefully
outside – without anyone
else noticing!
Waste Disposal
throughout History
After the Roman Empire fell, there were
very few public bathrooms. People on
the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland,
searched for the man who patrolled the
city with a big bucket and a bigger
cloak. For a price, they could us the
bucket with the cape draped around
them for privacy.
In 1776, the president’s plumbing was the same as
everyone else’s – they didn’t have any. When the White
House was built, they only put one outhouse in the
backyard! The flushable toilet was being worked on
though, and in 1801, President Thomas Jefferson had
two small rooms built, each with a toilet like device
flushed by an overhead tank of rainwater.
Today, there are over 35 bathrooms in the White House
and the president has his own private bathroom right off
the Oval Office.
Can you please spare a square?
By 1857, the printing press, bicycles and baseball had already been
invented. What wasn’t was toilet paper. Joseph C. Gayetty produced the
first sheets in packs of 500 and sold it for 50¢. It didn’t sell well as people
didn’t want to “waste” sheets of paper
In 1890 the Scott Paper Company became the first to make toilet paper on
rolls. This obviously took off - Today, Americans on average use 9 sheets
per bathroom trip and a yearly average of about ¾ of a mile!
Many people in India
and Arab countries
PAPER!! They think
smearing themselves
with paper is a bad way
to get clean. Instead,
they wipe with their left
hand instead, and
wash up with water.
Unsurprisingly, they
use only their right
hand when eating!
In the Amazon rain forest, poop disposal is
not a problem as one scientist discovered
when he deposited a “sample” on the
jungle floor. Within minutes, beetles and
bees found this tasty treat and within a few
hours, it had totally disappeared!
High in the Andes Mountains, mothers carry
babies on their backs wrapped in cloth slings.
These tots spend much of their day lying in poop
and pee and actually grow faster because of it!
At 12,000 feet above sea level, it is very cold and
dry and harder to breathe. Being closed up with
the waste creates a warm, humid space so the
babies can put their energy into growing instead
of staying warm.
At the South Pole in Antarctica, it
is -50ºF and it takes much longer
to get rid of poop. The scientists
there use toilets placed over deep
holes drilled into the icecap. The
icecap is always moving seaward,
so the poop and pee go along for
the ride. Today’s wad of waste will
reach the ocean in about 100,000
In survival training, soldiers are taught
to lie on poop. Experts say that dry
cowpats – with a little give in the
center – make a great bed. Line them
up and cover them with a poncho just
in case one is still too “soft” and
mushy. Warmed up by a soldier’s
body, they keep the heat all night long.
Peeing in
Astronauts on spacewalks wear disposable diapers
because they are outside, away from a toilet for up to 7
hours. Since most adults don’t like to think they are
wearing diapers, they call them “Maximum absorption
When the urine tank is full, the astronauts
shoot the pee outside where the pee freezes
Inside the ship, things are different. In weightless
into clouds of ice crystals that look like stars.
conditions, anything loose – food, scraps, pens,
Astronaut Wally Schirra like to call it
blobs of water, etc will float around the cabin. To
“constellation urination”
prevent urine and feces from floating around,
astronauts pee into a funnel and a gentle suction
transfers the urine into a holding tank. This funnel is
One time, pee froze to the spacecraft.
nicknamed “Mr. Thirsty” and can be used while the
Mission control was afraid that it would
astronaut is sitting, standing or even floating around.
damage the ship, but nobody wanted to do
a spacewalk to fix it – they didn’t want to be
known as the astronaut who “chipped pee
off the shuttle”. They ended up using the
Bringing water into space is expensive, so the
robotic arm instead to do the dirty work.
International space station is building a system to
purify and reuse water and pee – and not just
human pee. Many animal experiments are
conducted in space, and NASA estimates that 72
rats pee about as much as one astronaut. Way to
in Space
For pooping in space, the astronauts
use a space toilet with the same type
of suction to move the poop into its
own tank, separate from the pee.
NASA wants rats to fly in space without
their turds flying around the shuttle.
During missions, steady streams of air
flow through the rat cages. The airflow
pushes the poop and pee into waste
trays and keeps it there until the end of
the flight.
Pooping into a space toilet is
complicated. Astronauts must swing
bars across their legs to stay put.
Why? Gravity is one scientific law to
worry about in space, and Newton’s
third law is another. It says that
every action has an equal and
opposite reaction. When astronauts
use their muscles to poop, the
create a downward push. The equal
and opposite reaction? Without
being held down, the astronauts
would shoot up, up and away!!
Poop might even power our trips to other
planets! NASA is studying how to burn food
scraps, space garbage, and astronaut poop
(along with regular fuel) to power a spaceship to
Animals and their Poop
Let’s learn about SCAT-another name for animal droppings.
Other names include dung, deer fewmets, cattle tath, otter
spraints, cow flops or pats, buffalo bodewash, and bat guano.
Meat eating animals(carnivores) – such as
tigers, lions and foxes – have feces that
usually look very different from plant
eaters. Their poop contains hair, fur,
feathers and bones – in fact any bits of the
animals that they have eaten. These bits
tend to bind the poop together, making it
long and untidy.
Meat is a rich source of nourishment
that’s easy to digest with very little
waste. Carnivores don’t poop very
Owl pellets –
look for the bones
Plant eaters (herbivores) eat almost all
the time just to stay alive. Plants are a
lot less nourishing and difficult to
digest, with lots of parts that are
thrown away in feces. Since they
always keep eating, they pretty much
never stop pooping too!
Sloppy or Ploppy?
Another reason that poop comes in
different shapes is the water content.
Vampire bats obviously feed on blood (not usually
human) and blood is mostly water. So they get rid of
the water by producing feces like runny jam.
Camels are famous for their ability to go without water.
The result, very dry poop.
A cow produces about ten big sloppy pats, or cowpies
every day. But a sheep eating the same grass only
produces hundreds of little round droppings like
raisins. The reason for the difference? Sheep hardly
ever drink. They get water from the plants they eat, so
by the time the grass has become poop, it’s pretty dry
and breaks into little pieces. But cows love to drink
and they don’t need to take moisture from the grass
that they eat, so their poop can be like thick soup!
The of
The Color
Poopof Poop
One thing that doesn’t change very much about poop is the color.
Most of the time it is brownish or blackish.
Reasons poop is the same color for many animals:
When you mix lots of different colors from different types of food, it is like mixing the
colors on a pallet of paint – you get a dark, yucky color.
When a body digest food, it breaks down some of the colors it contained, leaving it
dull and grayish. When this is added to the dark brown remains of dead blood cells,
- voilá – you get that old familiar brown.
Bird feces are usually a typical dark yucky color, too. But their droppings are
splotched with white because their white and pasty urine leaves their body through
the same hole as their poop.
Food coloring:
When some animals eat a lot of brightly colored
food, the color can get through to the poop.
(Remember the beets from before?) Birds feasting
on berries in autumn can have a droppings that
look like peppermint candy – pink or mauve from
the berries and striped with white!
When blue whales feed on pink shrimp, they
swallow a ton in a single mouthful, they do huge
pink poop that looks like giant blobs of strawberry
ice cream breaking up in the water.
Poop as a Treasure?
Dung Beetles - love their poop!
There are three types of
dung beetles: rollers,
tunnelers, and dwellers.
Those words describe
how these beetles use
the dung they find.
When an animal such as
an elephant chews,
swallows, and digests,
there are always parts of
its meal that pass through
undigested. Those
undigested bits pass out of
the animal in its dung—
and that is what provides
food for dung beetles.
The rollers shape
pieces of dung into
balls and roll them
away from the pile.
They bury their ball to
either munch on later or
to use as a place to lay
their eggs.
Tunnelers bury their
dung treasure by
tunneling underneath
the pile.
Dwellers actually live
inside dung piles.
Dung beetle larvae, or
young, eat the solid dung
while adult dung beetles
stick to liquids. There is a
good bit of nutritious
moisture in dung, and
adult beetles suck up that
Rabbits eat plants that
are very hard to digest,
so many of the
nutrients get pooped
out. A rabbit will eat its
own poop to get a
second chance of
nourishment from its
own poop!
Lobster Anyone?
Male lobsters face each other when they decide who rules the
ocean floor. Crunching claws are only part of the scuffle.
Lobster’ bladders are in their HEADS, and when they fight, they
squirt each other in the face with pee. The loser remembers the
smell of his opponent’s urine. If they meet up again within a
week, just a whiff of that pee tells the losing lobster to back
down before he begins.
When a female lobster is interested in love, she will make
the first move. She will march over and pee in the male
lobster’s den, delivering a chemical “love letter” to let the
male lobster know “I’m interested!”
Hungry Hungry Hippo?
Male hippos spend a lot of time patrolling their
stretch of the Nile River. Sometimes they meet
up and have a border war. The hippos turn so
they are butt to butt. They cover each other with a
pee-and-poop combination, twirling their tails like
propellers to get plenty at nose level. Then they
move on, happy to have fought the battle.
No Pee on Me, Thanks!
After a little nose rubbing with his lady
friend, a male porcupine douses her
with his “perfume” (urine) – he pees all
over her! It’s an unusual way to be
romantic, but if you are a porcupine,
hugging is not an option!
The Siberian
chipmunk uses
someone else
pee to send a
message – a
misleading one.
These chipmunks douse
themselves with snake pee when
ever they can. Smelling like a
snake (and not a tasty chipmunk)
can keep other predators away!
The Billy Goat makes
sure no one with a
nose could miss him.
He URINATES on his
belly and chest, even
his BEARD. He
enjoys the smell of his
pee perfume and also
hopes the females
around will too!
How Much Poop??
Rabbits produce an
impressive 500 pellets a day.
Each ball is pretty small, but
so is a rabbit. (←Pygmy
rabbit and its poop)
While bears are
hibernating, they don’t
poop at all. Their bodies
create an internal plug
made from feces, old cells, and hair that
keeps them from
pooping during
their winter sleep.
A goose is a living poop
factory. Geese poop on
average every 12 minutes!
A horse can lift its
tail and unload ten
pounds’ worth at a
time – often without
taking a step!
Scientists recently found a chunk
of fossilized TRex dung that
weighted a whopping 16 lbs!. By
studying this 17” 65 million year
old piece of paleo-plop, they
learned that TRex wasn’t a careful
eater. It barely chewed cow-sized
dinosaurs enough to crush their
bones before swallowing.
Latrines – Animal toilets (and more..)
Golden moles from southern Africa stay
underground all the time because they are just
about snack-size as far as bird of prey or a
jackal is concerned. But the moles don’t want
to have feces all over their homes, so they
keep one little chamber in their large burrows
just for pooping in.
Giant otters, which live in big family groups in
the rivers of South America, have giant latrines,
and making an using them is a family affair. All
the otters in the group trample an area of the
riverbank bigger than a pool table. When the
area is flat, the otters poop all over it. The
smell is overpowering and the flattened plants
on the bank can be seen from far up and down
the river. The latrine isn’t jus a toilet – it’s a
great big message for any new otter in town.
“This is our river, and there are so many of us
that we’ve done all this poop. So you better get
Latrines – …continued…
Sloths have perhaps the most extreme
toilet-using habits of any animal. They do it
very slowly – they digest heir food ten
times more slowly than a cow. Once a
week, sloths (who live solitary lives in
treetops) climb down to the ground to
poop. They make their own private latrine
at the base of their tree and make the most
of their trip. They can poop out two
pounds of waste in a single session – over
¼ of what they weigh. These piles can be
very huge and smelly. Since they don’t see
much of one another, checking out the
poop is a way to keep in touch.
Naked mole rats (which have been described as
looking like hotdogs left in the microwave too
long) live in eastern Africa is huge mazelike
underground towns. Their special toilet
chambers aren’t designed simply to keep the
rest of their burrows clean. Mole-rats regularly
go in there to roll in their own poop. Strange
taste in perfume? Not really. Mole-rat colonies
have up to 300 members. The smell of their
group’s poop helps them distinguish between
family and foe if a fight breaks out with another
When wolverines
are done feeding on
a dead animal, they
save the rest for
later by pooping all
over it. What’s the
message? “This is
mine, don’t touch!”
After that, who
would want to???
Useful Poop
This lovely beach is made of parrot fish poop. Parrot fish eat the algae that grow on coral rock,
scientifically known as calcium carbonate. Naturally, a lot of this calcium carbonate gets into the
digestive system of the fish. The fish can’t digest it, so they poop the calcium carbonate out as
they swim. This poop end up as sand, which washes up on shore. So the next time that you take
a walk on a tropical coral beach, thank the parrot fish for pooping out all the beautiful sand for you
Ancient Romans used pigeon poop to
bleach their hair.
Many expert gardeners use ZooDoo
which is considered the world’ best
fertilizer and is made from elephant
and rhino dung.
Termites mix their poop with chewedup wood to build the huge towers they
live in.
An African tribe called the Massai mix
cow poop with ashes to make the
walls of their huts. Luckily, the poop
(once it has dried) doesn’t smell at all.
Many animals eat fruits and berries and the plant seeds inside them. The seeds are
carried from the plant that was eaten and digested by these animals to their feces and
pooped out in a new place where they can sprout and grow – which is exactly what the
plant wants.
In tropical regions, after bats have feasted on fruits, they don’t stop to poop, but often do it
while flying over clearings in the forest. This makes them perfect seed deliverers as they
take seeds to areas where there are no plants to compete with. Thanks to bat poop,
areas that are completely bare of plants can be covered in thriving young shrubs and trees
in just a couple of years. In northern climates, birds spread seeds in the same way.
Mistletoe is the most clever plant of all at getting birds –
and their poop – to work for it. The white mistletoe berries
that we use to decorate our homes are a favorite of birds
like blackbirds and robins. They eat the berries, but the
seeds of the mistletoe that come out in their droppings are
very sticky and cling uncomfortably to the birds’ bottoms.
The only way a bird can get rid of them is to wipe its
bottom vigorously on a rough piece of bark or a crack in a
branch. This is exactly what the plant needs and the bird
has - without knowing it- planted the seeds in the best
place for them to survive!
Poop as Fuel?
Pioneers on the prairie didn’t have trees or coal to burn as fuel. So settlers
burned dried buffalo chips to keep their houses warm.
In rural India, they use “cow chips.” Fresh cow manure is patted into round
discs and stuck on walls to dry. As soon as it has dried enough to fall off
the wall, it’s ready to burn. India burns one quarter of all the dung its cows
produce. That’s fuel for 330 million people!
When poop breaks down without any oxygen around, part of it turns to gas.
One out of every ten people on Earth burns this poop-gas, or biogas, as
fuel. In the country of Nepal, the poop-gas from two cows provides enough
cooking fuel for a family of six!
Crazy Animal Poop Facts
Sharks produce spiral poop
If food is scarce,
young cockroaches
can survive by eating
their parents poop.
Mayflies don’t
poop at all – they
only live for one
day, so they don’t
need to ever poop!
The smallest poop is from a
bumblebee bat. This bat
weighs less than 1/10 of an
ounce and does droppings
the size of a pinhead
Beaver poop often floats because is
contains so much undigested wood.
The biggest poop is
from the blue whale –
about 10” wide and
several yards long.
The horses towing carts around
Chinese cities must wear “butt
bags” to keep the streets clean.
When they are upset, chimps
who have been taught sign
language indicate their
frustration by making the sign
for poop.
Other Crazy Poop Facts
There are many new toilet
inventions. There is an ejection seat
that helps older people who can’t
stand back up without help. Also
one named “the Peacekeeper” which
will only flush if the seat is placed
back down. There is a Japanese
toilet called a “smart toilet” which
takes your blood pressure and
temperature and sends the info to
you doctor’s office. There are also
toilets that will wash your backside
(called bidets) and some that even
have blow dry features!! That model
is very expensive, but does save on
toilet paper!
Companies used to test
their diapers by using
mashed potatoes or
peanut butter as a
Many cultures used to try
to get rid of freckles by
rubbing dung on them
Rather than using real
poop to test toilets,
manufacturers use brown,
fermented beancurd. It
looks – and can clog – just
like the real thing
During the American Revolution,
English people jokingly hung
portraits of George Washington in
their bathrooms, since fear is
supposed to help you poop
Native American Lakota used
Artist Michelangelo
the ashes from burned poop
bathed some of his
statues in donkey dung to as toothpaste. Romans used
urine a a mouthwash and
make them look older
tooth cleaner.
Gotta Go Gotta Go Gotta Go
Gotta Get Urine Facts
Cat urine glows under blacklight.
One Survey revealed
that 67% of people
have peed in
swimming pools or at
least that is the
amount that admit it.
A pee powered battery
has been developed.
It’s not ready to run a
laptop, but it can
generate enough
electricity to power a
small emergency cell
Survey shows
that 42 % of
people fold their
toilet paper and
33% crumple it.
The rest of the
people do both or
wrap it around
their hand.
Long ago, alchemists tried to find
gold in pee. They thought this metal
was responsible for pee’s yellow
India’s former prime minister
Morarji Desai lived to be
ninety nine years old. He said
he owed his good health to
drinking a pint of his own
urine each day.
When tested, toilet seats had the lowest
bacteria levels of 12 surfaces including kitchen
tables, telephones and computer keyboards
Roman spies used pee as
invisile ink to write secrets
between the lines of their
official documents. The
messages only appeared
when heated. That is where
the expression “ read
between the lines” came
The Greek
Aristotle tried to
cure his
baldness by
rubbing his
head with goat
Poop – A natural history of the unmentionable by Nicola Davies
Gee Whiz – It’s all about pee by Susan E Goodman
The truth about poop by Susan E Goodman
Tracks, Scats, and Signs by Leslie Dendy
Exploratopia by Pat Murphy
Other interesting books:
You Burp – The most interesting book you’ll ever read about eating
by Diane Swanson
Cows sweat through their noses by Barbara Seuling
Don’t touch that – The book of gross, poisonous, and downright icky
plants and critters by Jeff Day
Its disgusting and we ate it by James Solheim
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