It's been warm here for the past few days. We've had a little snow off and on, but the skiing and/or snowshoeing has been terrible. But some of the critters are starting to wake up!
Here was a mystery to solve! New tracks,going from the cemetery woods, out across the field. They ended up leaving the snow to enter the stand of big white pines on top of the hill. I knew it wasn't the opossum, because I saw so many of those last year with their funny splayed front paws with bulbous toe ends.
I knew it wasn't the skunk, because the pattern wasn't the same. The skunk tracks always looked as if the animal was walking kitty-corner to the direction it wanted to go.
Remember that I promised you I'd start carrying a ruler? I have been, and I remembered to take it out! So now you can see that these are fairly large tracks. We just don't have a big selection of really large mammals here. So the smaller tracks are about 2" square, and the larger 2 x 3 inches. I also noticed right away that the tracks are in a straight line, in sets of two, pretty much evenly spaced.
I also noted that the sets were about 8 inches apart. This animal wasn't making big leaps between steps, but just walking along. All the prints are about equally deep.
What I did not notice until I looked at these on the computer is that in each set it alternates which side the large print is on (which I suspected was the back foot).
Here is where I have to admit feeling a little bit foolish. If I had seen just a few of these tracks in the mud beside a stream in the summer, I would have recognized it. But I'd never seen a long string of tracks where this animal had walked a long distance.
Have you guessed yet? It is a raccoon! The smaller front paws have 5 fingers and the back feet also have 5. You can definitely see the right or left handedness. This kind of pattern is called a two-print pattern, but the handedness makes the raccoon track unique, and I knew that I had a definite ID.
Tomorrow, I'll be on the road, but I've scheduled the contest to post. See you from NY and PA!
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