Scoop a Poop is a citizen science project coordinated by scientists from Macquarie University, in collaboration with Taronga Zoo and the University of Sydney.

Scoop a Poop enables citizen scientists to contribute to the global fight against antibiotic resistance. We want you to help us out by collecting possum poop!


For collectors

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    1. Collection kits

    We issue kits during school and community group visits and in collaboration with Wildlife care organisations and other researchers.

    Wildlife care organisations and researchers can contact Michelle Power or Koa Webster

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    2. Download the app

    The Scoop a Poop mobile app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

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    3. Collect it

    Collect your possum poop sample. Follow the instructions given in the app.

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    4. Return it

    Return your sample to your school or community group.

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    5. Check the results

    Once samples have been tested in the laboratory the results will appear in the Scoop a Poop app. Tap Check results in your app to view the status of your sample or go to the Scatlas to see sample results from across Australia.

    Or you can see results to date on the Results page.


Scoopapoop in schools

Scoop a poop starts with scientists visiting schools. We introduce the project through lessons suitable for students from Year 6 to Year 11 that are tailored to the Science curriculum.

Our visit includes:

  • A lesson from one of our team of biologists, about antibiotic resistance in wildlife
  • A hands-on session covering kit use and the collection process
  • Provision of Scoop a Poop kits for students to collect a sample from their backyard

Students return their kit to school for collection by the Scoop a Poop team.

We also offer an annual “University for a Day” program for a small number of students who have participated in possum scat collection. Students learn how to extract DNA from possum samples and test it for antibiotic resistant genes. Places in this program are limited.

Please contact Dr Koa Webster on (02) 9850 6289 or to sign up your school to the outreach program.

Join our participating schools



We have a Facebook page, a Twitter account and we are also on Instagram. Connect with us for project updates, videos, possum facts, and more!

We participate in community events such as National Science Week and local environment fairs.

We also collaborate with local councils and libraries to offer community workshops.

Want us to bring a Scoop a Poop showcase to your next community event or visit your group? Please contact Koa Webster ( or (02) 9850 6289).


The Scoop a Poop team

Michelle Power

The Scoop a Poop team is led by Associate Professor Michelle Power from the Department of Biological Sciences. Michelle researches the ecology and evolution of host parasite interactions and the spread of human-derived disease agents to wildlife.

Koa Webster

The Project Coordinator for Scoop a Poop is Dr Koa Webster, a postdoctoral fellow in Michelle’s research group at Macquarie University.

Michael Gillings

Also in the research team is Professor Michael Gillings of Macquarie University, an evolutionary biologist with a long-standing interest in the molecular evolution of antibiotic resistance.

Clare McArthur

Associate Professor Clare McArthur from the University of Sydney is an ecologist who studies possums and their behaviour in the urban landscape.

Kerry Staker

Kerry Staker is Taronga’s Community Education Coordinator for the Youth at the Zoo (YATZ) program as well as other Community Programs such as Keeper for a Day and Zoo Adventures.

Juliana Gonclaves

Juliana coordinates the Youth at the Zoo program at Taronga and also works in a range of other educational programs at the zoo. She drives the involvement of YATZ in the Scoop a Poop project.

This project is funded by a Citizen Science grant from the “Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme”, awarded by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science to Macquarie University.

We respect and acknowledge the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of the lands we will sample for this project.

We acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging.


How Tos and FAQs

Watch the video for a refresh on collecting a possum scat sample once you have the kit.

I have a kit but I can’t remember what possum poop looks like. How do I identify possum poop?

Brushtail possum poop is typically 2-3 cm long with rounded ends.

(Image credit: Macquarie University/Jo Stephan)

Ringtail possum poop is shorter and rounder than brushtail poop. Here are some models of both brushtail (left) and ringtail poop (right), made out of playdough.

(Image credit: Koa Webster)

I have a kit but I can’t remember how to do the collection! How do I safely collect possum poop?

Follow the instructions in the app. Once you have scanned your kit barcode, the app will step you through what to do.

I don’t have a kit but I would like to collect a sample for this project. How can I get involved?

We work with schools and community groups rather than individuals. Your group can be as small as 20 people or as large as several hundred. You can download an information flyer. Then ask your teacher or group leader to get in touch with Dr Koa Webster ( or call (02) 9850 6289).

My school or community group would like to get involved, but we aren’t in Sydney. Can we still participate?

Yes! Scoop a Poop is not restricted to Sydney. Please contact Dr Koa Webster on (02) 9850 6289 or and we will work out the logistics for your group to participate.



More information on our research on antibiotic resistance in wildlife and methods we use.

McDougall F, Boardman W, Gillings MR and Power ML (2019) Bats as reservoirs of antibiotic resistance determinants: A survey of class 1 integrons in Grey-headed Flying Foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus). Infection, Genetics and Evolution 70: 107-113. DOI:10.1016/j.meegid.2019.02.022

Fulham M, Power ML, Gray R (2018). Comparative ecology of Escherichia coli in endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) pups. Infection, Genetics and Evolution 62, 262-269.

Ghaly TM, Chow L, Asher AJ, Waldron LS, Gillings MR (2017). Evolution of class 1 integrons: Mobilization and dispersal via food-borne bacteria. PloS One, 12 (6), p.e0179169.

Zhu YG, Gillings M, Simonet P, Stekel D, Banwart S, Penuelas, J (2017). Microbial mass movements. Science, 357 (6356) 1099-1100.

Power, ML, Samuel, A, Smith, JJ, Stark JS, Gillings, MR, Gordon D (2016). Escherichia coli in the cold: Dissemination of human-derived bacteria into the Antarctic microbiome. Environmental Pollution 215: 58-65.

Delport TC, Harcourt RG, Beaumont LJ, Webster KN, Power ML (2015). Molecular detection of antibiotic resistance determinants in Escherichia coli isolated from the endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) Journal of Wildlife Disease. 55: 555-563

Waldron LS and Gillings MR (2015). Screening Foodstuffs for Class 1 Integrons and Gene Cassettes. Journal of visualized experiments: JoVE, (100).

Power ML, Emery S, Gillings MR (2013). Into the wild: Dissemination of antibiotic resistance determinants via a species recovery program PLoS ONE 8 (5) e63017