Animal Tracks and Signs

Life Science - Middle School

Animal Tracks and Signs Others mammals, like fox, coyote, bobcat, deer and moose are diagonal walkers moving their legs on the opposite sides of the body (the front right with the back left). The clues for dog tracks (wolves, coyotes, and fox) are the impressions of the nails. All the toes are about the same size, and the palm track is pointed in front like the pointy nose of a dog. The fox palm pad is thinner and shaped more like a banana. Both dog tracks would allow a cross to be traced through their track (unlike a cat). The cat track has one lead toe and the pinkie toe is smaller so you can tell the left from right. There are rarely claw marks unless the track is on a slippery surface like ice. Weasels and otters are bounders with their front feet landing together and the back feet landing behind (top view) or on top (bottom view) of the front track. Bears, raccoons, porcupines and skunks are pacers moving the same side of the body at the same time (the front right with the back right). For raccoons, look for the Z pattern of their track pattern as well. The scratches and bites that bears leave on marked trees to communicate with other bears are longer lasting than tracks. Tracks are NOT to Scale. It is not always easy to see mammals in the wild. Many are nocturnal and shy of humans. So being able to identify animal tracks lets you know which animals are in your area. It can be tricky to make a positive identification using tracks alone, but other clues called signs like animal trails, beds (flattened vegetation), scat, snagged fur, rubbing, gnawing, nibbling and scratching can help. Another clue is the tracking pattern, or how the animal moves. Some mammals, like hares and squirrels, gallop and their back feet land on the outside and in front of their front tracks. Hare tracks are easy to spot because their back feet are huge like snowshoes. Squirrels leave other clues like pinecone stems and seeds. Beavers spend much of the time in the water and when they are on land are gnawing and dragging, so their tracks are not the most obvious thing they leave behind. Look for gnawed stumps and sticks and piles of wood chips. If you do see beaver tracks, the back foot is webbed. Deer are also diagonal walkers with the familiar double slice track. pinkie toe banana shape pointed
94-4040 Draw a line from the animal to its track or track and sign. Animal Tracks and Signs