One of my favorite memories of being a Dad of a toddler was when after a light dusting of snow we went out into the woods and just started following animal tracks. The woods behind our house are full of all sorts of wildlife activities that are usually invisible. With the conditions just right, that activity all comes to life.
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has a nice story on identifying animal tracks. When the conditions are right, it’s a lot easier to see the tracks. Not only is it important to see the individual tracks, but the pattern as to how they are made is important. How an animal walks can also provide clues as to their identity. Dogs, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and domestic cats place their hind foot into—or nearly into—the track left by their front foot to form a diagonal pattern and a narrow trail. Squirrels and rabbits hop, while members of the weasel family (otter, fisher, and mink) bound almost like a porpoise. Learning about distinctive track patterns (which you can find on the track card) can help with identification and give a deeper understanding of the lives of these animals.
Click to Download the MassWildlife’s animal track card
Nice! I was trying to identify some prints on the paper road at the end of Orchard and I thought it was squirrel, but now I see it was raccoon!