When it comes to global warming animal dung is high on the list of offenders for creating methane. When it comes to commerce animal dung is really big business -- and we're not just talking fertilizer here. From fine coffee that comes from being processed through the digestive system of civet cats and elephants to the use of llama dung in the purification of toxic water running off of old mines.

Elephant Dung
Elephant Dung

Image via Wikimedia

The uses of animal feces by humans goes back thousands of years. In ancient Egypt physicians recommended the use of crocodile dung as an effective method of birth control. I don't even want to imagine the application method for this form of spermicide. Ew, too late. Yuck! Naturally (and thankfully) this product is no longer available.

For many centuries waste from a variety of animals.to use to create a fire on the hearth. This is especially true of areas where trees were scare. In the American West buffalo droppings, or "chips" were used.

In northern Africa the locals would treat the scourge of dysentery by consuming very fresh camel dung. It contained bacteria that aided digesting. Okay, we're back to ew and yuck again. Like the dung of many animals it has also long been used as a form of fuel to make fires.

Camel Dung
Camel Dung

Image via Wikimedia

Up until WWI bat caves were essential to the United States in terms of weapons production. That is because bat manure, known as guano, is made up largely of potassium nitrate which is a component of gunpowder, the earliest known explosive. It was used as far back as the War of 1812 in the United States and is credited with prolonging the Civil War since the South was able to mine guano for explosives long after the supply lines were cut.

Bat Guano
Bat Guano with Cave Cockroach

Image via Wikimedia

The most expensive coffees in the world come from animals -- or rather through them. One coffee, Kopi Luwak, comes from the palm civet, or civet cat in Asia. The cat-like creature eats the coffee cherries and they pass through its digestive tract and comes out the other end. This feces is collected by farmers and sold to be processed. It is said to have unique properties and flavor. A similar process is used to create Black Ivory Coffee by feeding coffee cherries to elephants. I'm back to yuck again.

Giant Panda
Giant Panda

Image via Wikimedia

In 2012 An Yanshi, a Chinese business man in the Sichuan Province, created the world's most expensive tea that is fertilized only by panda poop.

Elephant poop also has another use. It is collected and processed into paper. Apparently not toilet paper (whew!). This is possible because elephants only digest about 45% of their food, leaving lots of vegetable pulp to be made into paper. This process was created in Thailand and no doubt the paper is sold to tourists there. A single elephant defecates enough to produce 15 pages a day. I know writers who would kill to be able to do that much on writing their novel. Other animals that poop paper include pandas and sheep.

Paper Made from Elephant Poop
Paper Made from Elephant Poop

Image via Wikimedia

The use of llama dung to clean water is a method used in Bolivia  This process is used to remove metal toxins running of old, abandoned tin and silver mines. The water is collected in ponds and the poop is sprinkled on top. The toxins are bonded and settle to the bottom of the pond. The technique originated in the U.K. using horse and cow manure.

Llama
Llama

Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont, Image via Wikimedia

Moose and elk droppings have been covered with shellac and used to make jewelry such as earrings and tie tacks. I remember when I was a kid my mom had a set of elk dung earrings. She thought it was hilarious.That automatically meant that I thought it was stupid (I was a teenager). Believe it or don't there is a Moose Dropping Festival every July in Talkeetna, Alaska. Among the events there is a moose poop toss and a moose dropping drop. In the latter a number of moose droppings are dropped from a helicopter and people make wagers on where they will fall. That is probably a prime place to buy a moose dropping swizzle stick. Or even a moose poop mug.

Moose Poop Earrings
Moose Poop Earrings

Image via Mental Floss

The dung of flying squirrels is used in traditional Chinese medicine for abdominal pain, including menstrual cramps. It is steeped into a tea. The taste is described as bitter, sweet, and warm. I'm gagging again. It is banned in the United States, so you would have to go a long way to try it. I, for one, will stick with more Western methods to relieve abdominal pain. I also can't help but wonder what Rocky and Bullwinkle think of this one.

Ultimately there are projects going on to make use of animal dung in the energy industry. Someday we may have electricity from chicken poop, heat our homes with cow manure, and even fuel our cars with pig excrement. Poop could be our planet's "number two" renewable resource.

Now we just need to figure out how this particular resource will save the bees, cure cancer, and end world hunger. Oh, yu . . . well, you get the idea.

Sources: Mental Floss, Mental Floss, Wikipedia, Most Expensive, Daily Mail

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