With practice, it is possible to identify many of the British dung beetle species in the field and it will be useful to carry a hand lens. Although some of the aphodiines are exceptionally difficult to tell apart without the use of a microscope.

If you are new to identifying beetles, have a look at the beetle anatomy diagram below for help. This can also be downloaded as a pdf.


The first stage is to work out which group your beetle is in and then download the appropriate DUMP Identification guide.


Geotrupidae are large bodied tunnellers, all of which are over 12mm in size. They all have a black base colour but many are iridescent and will have a green, purple or even pinkish shine. A pictorial ID guide is available.

A common problem when identifying Geotrupidae is mis-counting the elytral striae between the elytral ridge and the humeral callus. Have a look at the annotated image below if you are unsure. This can also be downloaded as a pdf.


Onthophagus have a distinctive body shape with long legs for excavating burrows. They range in size from 4mm to 11mm. A pictorial ID guide is available.


Aphodiines are the most numerous temperate dung beetles. They range in size from 3mm to 13mm. A pictorial ID guide and the DUMP Key to the species ‘Aphodius’ (v1.5) are available to download.


Found a British Dung beetle? Why not help us to map distributions.

Please submit your dung beetle sightings to DUMP via iRecord. Good quality photographs of the correct features help us to confirm and validate your record. Find out more by visiting the biological recording page.