Sunday, January 25, 2009

Animal Tracks in Snow

This morning I tried to identify some of the tracks in the snow just outside my front door near my bird feeders and a small sheltering evergreen. If you have any experience in this area, please consider this a request for your expertise.

The narrow trail at the left suggests perhaps a mouse -- a snaking trail with little indentations within it.

Below, you can see a couple of these trails and some much larger prints that mystify me at present. These larger prints -- 6-8 inches long -- contain a sharp double point like an "M" or cat ears at one end, a rounded but clawed-appearing other end, and deep indentations inside.

They mostly proceed in a straight line, not staggered, so I presume they reveal the hopping progress of a smallish animal rather than the giant tracks of a fearsome bear-deer.

I have consulted some track-identification guides like the one below from the Ohio DNR, but they haven't really helped.

Any insights?

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Mary S. said...

I'm not positive on this, but the top one could be a vole. I read somewhere that they make straight lines under the snow. The next one might be a rabbit? We have the same tracks in our yard, too -- both the straight line and the big one.

Unknown said...

It must be squirrels or rabbits. I saw similar prints on a front lawn in St. Paul this evening. I've just never noticed that distinctive shape before.

Anonymous said...

Hello Penny,

For my two cents I would say the big blotches are a squirrel hopping. The small trail would be a mouse or or vole or some other small rodent.
The little tracks must be a pretty well worn trail as the mice are just leaving little tracks on top of the snow around our place.
Squirrels and mice would be attracted to your feeders.
Bruce is the guy who would know except I don't think he travels far on the internet beyond our blog. He spends a lot of time outside though.

Anonymous said...

Top one is mouse or vole (field mouse
Second is mouse and larger bird Pheasants around there?
Last one is squirrel

Unknown said...

Anonymous - thanks for weighing in! No pheasants right here that I've ever been aware of, though they can be found just down the road a few hundred yards where town ends and cornfields begin.

Unknown said...

Also, I forgot to report -- we saw an actual vole, not just tracks, for the first time just last weekend. The cats were looking down at it very intently from their windowside table as it busied itself under the bird feeders. It was very dark, and would disappear under the snow and come up again in a new location. I was excited to finally see it.

Karya said...

Thank you! I used to know the snow tracks when I was a child in Duluth, but ran across some in the snow in Tennessee this morning (fifty years later) that I could not identify. Your site was more helpful than other sites. I believe the tracks were made by a large bird, perhaps a raven.