6 Unexpected Uses For Animal Dung

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Get excited! From fertilizer to fuel to flaming baggies on doorsteps, you probably know all the standard uses for dung. But apparently there's a whole world of crap you don't know. The following are 6 unexpected ways to make the most of animal dung.

1. Crocs and Birth Control

In 2000 BC, Egyptian physicians recommended using pessaries of crocodile dung as a spermicide. While this ancient birth control method is no doubt unavailable at your local pharmacy, you can probably ask your local crocodile to provide it under the table.

2. Elephants and Paper Products

elephant.jpgSince elephants only digest 45% of their food, and the waste product is mostly fiber, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in Lampang, Northern Thailand has developed a method for making elephant dung into paper. The paper is later cut and fashioned into handmade notebooks. Amazingly, an elephant can generate enough dung to make 115 pages of paper a day (or an 1/8th of a Stephen King novel).

As for the process, papermakers boil the fibers for sterilization before spinning and framing them into paper. Of course, elephants aren't the only ones getting into the stationery business. In Thailand, Panda Poop Paper is also quite popular, and the Welsh company Sheep Poo Paper has also managed to make paper from, you guessed it, sheep dung.

Got stockpiles of llama, bat, moose or flying squirrel droppings? Read on...

3. Llamas to Fight Pollution

llamas.jpgOddly enough, in Bolivia, llama dung is being used to combat pollution in the water supply from abandoned mines. The microbes living in the dung neutralize the acidic water and remove dissolved metals like iron, neutralizing the pH of the water. This filtration method isn't unique to Bolivia, though. The technique was originally developed in the United Kingdom through use of cattle and horse manure.

4. Bats to Fight Wars

batcave1.jpgUp until World War I, bat caves were essential resources, providing American soldiers with materials for gunpowder and explosives. That's because dried bat guano consists largely of saltpeter (potassium nitrate). In fact, it's been used by the United States as early as the War of 1812 for making gunpowder. Bat droppings also played a major role in prolonging the Civil War. During the conflict, nearly every substantial Gray Bat cave in the South was harvested for its guano, and the Confederacy relied on these caves as a source for saltpeter long after supply lines were cut off.

5. Moose Droppings for Tourists

moosepoopearrings.jpgMoose droppings are made into souvenirs in Alaska, Maine, Colorado and Canada. In fact, Talkeetna, Alaska has an annual Moose Dropping Festival every July. Highlights of the event include the Moose Dropping Drop Game, where numbered nuggets of moose dropping are tossed out of a helicopter and participants place bets on where they will land. There's also a Moose Poop Toss Game. And bagpipers. Really! Typical moose poop souvenirs include Moose Poop earrings, Moose Nugget swizzle sticks, Moose Poop tie tacks, and Moose Poop mugs.

6. Flying Squirrel Cures

flyingsquirrel.jpgWu Ling Zhi, or Feces Trogopterori Seu Pteromi, is flying squirrel dung used in Chinese medicine for abdominal pain, childhood nutritional deficiencies, and certain insect or snake bites. The primary use for flying squirrel crap, though, is alleviation of female reproductive system problems such as post-partum abdominal pain and menstrual cramps. Described as bitter, sweet, and warm, it's served in a decoction (steeped, like tea). Interested in trying flying squirrel dung? Unfortunately, it's banned in the United States. Stick to ibuprofen.

Previously on mental_floss:

Quiz: Match The Drug To Its Creepy Side Effect
Five Disorders That Make For Scary Slumbering
Strange Gravestones
Five Great Prison Escapes
A Surprisingly Long List Of People Who've Attempted Suicide
Five Ballpark Promotions That Went Wrong

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September 25, 2007 - 5:19am
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