Spring of 2013: We announced our first Shed Antler Study to our online customer base in hopes of retrieving enough information to better understand what animals are gnawing on and eating those shed antlers we so often find in the outdoors with chewed off tines. Our assumptions going into this were probably similar to yours. It was probably mostly field mice, right? Maybe an occasional skunk or woodchuck?
Well, many of our customers took part in the study. Below you will find the results presented in our best attempt to organize the information in a way that helps us better understand who is chewing on those antlers.
We had 35 trail cameras set up throughout 13 states. Of the many submitted pictures, we only counted those where the animal was clearly touching the antler. Because of the camera angles and qualities, this does not necessarily mean the animal was chewing on the antler. Very likely they were inspecting and smelling it. However, due to the volume of pictures capturing certain species (such as squirrels) repeatedly over a period of days, we can still make assumptions as to which animals are more responsible for eating antler sheds.
Graph showing how many times each animal was captured on camera eating antler sheds. Showing how many times each animal was captured on camera eating antler sheds. Showing amount of activity (in days) recorded of animals chewing on shed antler. Showing amount of activity (in days) recorded of animals chewing on shed antler.
As you can see from the data, Squirrels were the most frequent visitors to a shed antler site–visiting multiple times a day and staying longer to chew on the antler during each visit. It is important to note here that we did not count every single image the camera captured of a specific animal. For instance, if a squirrel stayed within the camera’s field of vision for 5 minutes (keeping in mind they don’t often stay for more than this because they are so active), we only counted the images of the squirrel actually touching the antler. And then only if it occurred again after a time of roughly 1 minute and 30 seconds.
Of the animals recorded making contact with a shed antler, we believe that it is less likely that woodchuck, chipmunk, otter, beaver, and deer were responsible for chewing on antlers. The images of them in contact with an antler were most likely of an investigative nature only. However, we hope to be able to make a bolder statement regarding this in future years after more data is collected.
It is also interesting to note that of the 4 most likely culprits of gnawing on shed antlers, squirrel was the only one to be recorded almost exclusively during daylight hours. While Raccoon, Mice, and Opossum were almost exclusively during early morning or late night after the sun was down.
Lastly, we present to you a slideshow of the animals caught making contact with a shed on camera by our customers. Again, some of these are just inspecting the antler. But notice the others that are clearly open mouthed around an antler tine. The images in this slideshow are not based on frequency of images captured nor are they in any particular order. We simply took the best image of each animal caught on camera in contact with an antler from each of our customer’s submissions. Enjoy!