Mammal Tracks: Vole

Putting down the first boot prints on a sidewalk after a dusting of snow, I paused every so often to listen for birds and take in the scene. At one point, I noticed a pattern on the pavement beside me.

Photo of Trotting Vole Trail

My first thought was bird tracks, but then I focused my gaze.  Tiny footprints, showing either four or five toes and tiny palm pads, revealed that a mammal had trotted down this sidewalk before me.

Photo of Vole Tracks

Given the size of the tracks, the maker was obviously small in stature, which narrowed the field to Mice, Shrews, and Voles.  Mice tend to bound (leaving tracks in groups of four separated by variable distances) and will typically leave behind tail marks in light snow. Shrews can trot but would show five toes on both the front and hind tracks, and often tail marks as well. That left Vole as the remaining option.  After consulting several field guides, it appeared to me that these tiny tracks belong to a Meadow Vole.

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