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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Common Mustelid


Oh, OK, I'm talking about a skunk. But actually skunks are really quite fascinating. I've even known someone who had one as a pet back when there weren't so many restrictions on keeping wild animals. I didn't see one today, but I know where it went. Yes, we're doing tracks again.

I was planning on doing another post, and was taking the last picture I needed for it, when Maggie and I found the skunk tracks. I got really excited about that because one doesn't often see skunk tracks. In fact, I had to get out my books and do some research to be sure that this was really what I was looking at. Skunks hibernate, but they do sometimes come out after thaws. That fits with our recent weather.

The strips here are a long shot of one gait pattern a skunk may make, and then a closer shot of one set of footprints.

skunk gait pattern in snowskunk tracks in snow

This skunk walked all over the field out back, so I got quite a few pictures of various patterns. Maggie kept sniffing the tracks, more than she noses in most kinds, so I'm sure she could smell the musk. But unless they decide to spray their musk, skunks don't have much residual odor. I can almost always smell the fox when we see its recent tracks. I couldn't smell the skunk today at all.

I made the last picture really big, because this is the clincher that its a skunk. You can see the shapes of the pads on the feet, and they don't really look like any other animal that size that lives around here. I learned a lot today, and I hope you've enjoyed coming along for the adventure!

skunk tracks in snow

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rainfield61 said...

It is fascinating to have snow at which nothing can escape from being tracked.

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Good Morning Rainfield- it's morning here anyway! Yes, the snow certainly doesn't let any of those critters keep their passing a secret. I love it!

Lin said...

I love to come along on your hikes, and I love the little trails you find on your way. I would have a field day hiking with you--stopping to appreciate every little thing. Even "fish and bag"--it's all good for a story, isn't it? :)

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Lin- Wow, I'm really honored! I'm afraid I'm kind of a hick by choice, but I do like to look for details and it's turning out to be quite a bit of fun to have people to share that with.