Woman’s shock find on lawn after moving to remote Tassie farm: ‘Almost human’

Internet sleuths were convinced the massive poo could not have come from an animal as suggested. But were they wrong?

Paddy Zakaria's farm on the Tasman Peninsula in Tasmania.
When Paddy Zakaria first moved to the farm it hadn't been lived in for several months and wildlife had taken over. Source: Supplied

Moving from Australia’s mainland to a remote corner of Tasmania has been quite an adjustment for Paddy Zakaria. The bird calls are different and the ground is alive with small scurrying marsupials she's yet to identify.

But it was the massive "almost human” poos dumped on her front lawn which were perhaps the biggest shock. They were so startling that Paddy pulled out her camera and snapped a few images of the mysterious dumps next to her gumboot for scale.

“There’s lots of poos everywhere because the house was empty for a while and all the wildlife moved in,” she told Yahoo News from her remote Tasman Peninsula farm.

“The reason they caught my attention is that they’re so huge, they’re massive. If you’d straightened it out it would have been a good 10 inches (24cm). The one next to it was a bit more squashy, almost like it had landed down on itself.”

After sharing an image of two of the poos to the Victorian Field Naturalists online forum, close to 500 people responded. Because they’d been excreted on top of a log and a piece of bark, many thought they’d been left by a wombat.

The poos on Paddy's farm (left) with her boot next to them for size. Square-shaped wombat poos (right)
The poos on Paddy's farm (left) were nothing like the cubed wombat poos she was familiar with. Source: Paddy Zakaria/Getty

Related: Tourists visiting Hobart warned to stay away from 700kg animal attraction

But others shot down this suggestion because of one simple assumption – everyone knows wombats drop cube-shaped poos. Wallabies, devils, dogs and human poo joggers were all put forward as theories.

Stumped by the mystery, a handful of respondents threw their hands in the air and suggested it could have been a legendary yowie – a humanlike creature that’s referenced in Indigenous stories and early Australian folklore.

When Paddy first saw the poos she was reminded of the terrible time she had when she lived in the Otways, close to Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. “People are pigs,” she said. “Unfortunately I’m very familiar with human poo.”

Living just 9 km from the sea, wayward tourists who were unable to find a toilet would often stop next to a thicket of trees near her front gate.

“It was absolutely disgusting. Sometimes buses would stop in my driveway, and a great mob of people would be coming out one at a time and leave stacks of toilet paper and tissues,” she said.

After careful inspection, it quickly became clear the poos on Paddy’s Tasmanian lawn were not human. Pulling them apart, it was clear the animal that left them behind had a plant-based fibrous diet.

Squashed up wombat poos on a log in Tasmania.
Once the poos were broken apart it was possible to see they came from a plant-eating animal. Source: Paddy Zakaria

Yahoo sent several of Paddy’s photos to biologist Nick Mooney who has expertise in Tasmania's unique ecology, particularly thylacines and devils.

His answer quickly settled on a wombat as being the most likely culprit and busted a myth about their poos always being cubed-shaped. He explained cubes are only left by individuals leaving “territorial flags”. The flat-surfaced shape prevents them from rolling off sticks and stones and onto the ground where they might be destroyed by dung beetles.

Truth is they (like us) produce a wide range even with the same diet — obvious "even in captivity,” Mooney said in an email.

“I guess they also suffer minor intestinal upsets with a sudden change say to fine, green food after a rain or dispersing.”

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