Postmortem Animal Predation

Postmortem predation creates injuries that arouse suspicions of homicide (35,36,48,85-89). Animal activity alters antemortem injuries (36). The typical case is an individual living alone who dies of natural causes (36,89); a free-roaming house pet (dog or cat) is trapped inside the house, and its usual food is unavailable. A pet can also be motivated by other reasons when food is present (85). A frantic pet may start to lick or nudge an unconscious owner and can become frantic, biting the body (85,89). The confined space of a dwelling can also lead to aggressive behavior toward the owner (89). The postmortem interval for predation is estimated to be less than 1 d (88). One case report, involving a dog, indicated predation within 45 min (89).

Other mammals (e.g., rodents) can gnaw on the body (85,90,91). Rodent excrement or fur at the scene is a clue to the nature of the injuries (85,87). Rodent activity

Postmortem Predation
Fig. 43. Postmortem predation by ants (arrowheads) causing artifactual "abrasions."

occurs indoors in low socioeconomic settings and outdoors among homeless people (87). Outdoors, various animals can carry away bones (36,47).

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