Animal remains found in backyard. ID of victim and killer requested
May 6, 2019 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Hi folks. I noticed this set of remains (content warning: dead animal) in my backyard this morning, and I know it wasn't there yesterday. I am curious about three things: What is it, what killed it, and what should I do with it?

I am guessing it's a rabbit, since I've seen a lot of them around here and it looks like one.

This was in a fenced backyard in suburban Milwaukee, WI, but it's possible for raccoons and rabbits to get in. I know there are foxes and coyotes in the area, but I haven't seen any around the area. I know there's a hawk in the area, I think a Cooper's Hawk. I don't think dogs get in my backyard, and I don't know if there are any free-range cats around here, but mine are indoor, and I haven't seen any outdoors in a while.

As far as disposal, should I bury it, put it in the trash, or something else?
posted by Slinga to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Yeah, based on the feet, I would definitely say rabbit. My other thought was squirrel, but the fur looks more rabbity. And while I'm not a forensic wildlife expert, this carcass definitely has the "picked over by birds" look to it to me.

For disposal, I would probably put it in the trash, personally, as unless you buried it deeper than you probably want to dig, something else might come along and dig it up and make a mess. I've had random encounters with dead squirrels, etc., in my yard, and one of my cats used to present me with large, freshly-killed rats, and my practice was always to bag them and trash them before they sat there and got too gross.
posted by aecorwin at 11:10 AM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

You can call 311 to find out for sure. In our area, they ask us to put them in closed trash cans because of the risk of disease/rodenticide to opportunistic carrion-eaters.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:24 AM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

I agree it looks like a rabbit. Not sure about what killed it but I think a dog or coyote would have crunched up the bones more. Cooper's hawks mainly eat birds but could also kill a rabbit. There could have been more than one creature involved in getting it to this state. Crows or a raccoon or something could have found the carcass and brought it into your yard and eaten more off of it after something else killed it.

I would just put it in the trash; it's no different from putting the remains of your roast chicken dinner in the trash. Burying should be fine, too, if you prefer that. I wouldn't be too worried about something digging it up.
posted by Redstart at 12:16 PM on May 6, 2019

The front foot looks squirrelish to me. I'd just trash it. Maybe use a shovel or gloves to put the carcass into a plastic bag, then tie the bag shut and put it in a covered trash can.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 12:42 PM on May 6, 2019

Looks like a rabbit; it if were in my area, I'd assume it was killed by a coyote and then picked over by scavengers (birds, raccoons, etc.). You can bag it and put it in the trash, just like a chicken carcass.
posted by ourobouros at 1:28 PM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Could have been more then one predator - that looks like fox or something, that's been subsequently picked over by.... On preview exactly what ourobouros just wrote! Ew. Yeah trash it.
posted by jrobin276 at 1:30 PM on May 6, 2019

I think also a rabbit. Side note, my cat has killed rabbits, so it doesn't have to be some bigger predator.
posted by cabingirl at 1:58 PM on May 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

For the second year running, this Spring we had a family of foxes living under our back deck. As in a mother and six pups. That rabbit carcass is similar to what we find routinely on the lawn in various configurations (as well as wild turkeys, weasels and, in one horrifying instance, the leg of a fawn, including its tiny hoof). So yes, picked over in the sense of feeding a whole family.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:24 AM on May 7, 2019

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