How Do You Identify Animal Tracks?


Quick Answer

To identify animal tracks, try to find clear tracks in mud, soft soil or snow, then get close to the tracks and note the size and presence or absence of claw marks. Make a sketch of the tracks if possible and note nearby animal droppings, which may help identify tracks.

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How Do You Identify Animal Tracks?
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Full Answer

There are a few important questions to ask when trying to identify tracks. The first question is, "How many toes?" Felines, canines and rabbits all have four toes on the front and back feet. Most rodents and some other animals have four toes in the front and five in the back. It is important to identify which print is the front and which is the back, because knowing this can narrow down the options.

The next question to ask is, "Are claws visible?" Feline tracks do not normally show claws while canine tracks do. If there are claws, note their size and shape.

Next ask, "Is the track symmetrical?" This can help determine which track is the front foot and which is the back. Rabbits have asymmetrical tracks, while canine tracks are usually symmetrical.

Another important question is,"What is the shape of the metacarpal or palm pad?" Animals like rats, mice and squirrels have palm pads that are made up of metacarpal pads, whereas canines, felines and raccoons have metacarpal pads that are fused into one palm pad.

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