Quiz #41: Mammal Tracks

Early one morning after a light snowfall, I found these tracks along a paved road near my home. Your challenge is three-parted:

1. Who left these tracks?
2. Describe the trail pattern shown in the first photo (i.e., gallop, bound, lope, trot, direct register, walk, etc.)
3. In the second photo, which print is the front track, if either?

The third and fourth photos show measurements of one of the tracks.





Leave your guess in the comments below. And be sure to check out the answer to last week's natural mystery quiz on the Quiz Answers page.

5 thoughts on “Quiz #41: Mammal Tracks”

  1. This is a good one.

    1 Hard to tell not knowin’ but my guess is Red Fox. Could also make an argument for coyote but I think I see a ridge in the heel pad. Toes seem distinct though so I cant be sure.

    2 Side trot.

    3 Front foot is on bottom of image.

  2. 1 I was thinking either coyote or domestic dog. The nail marks look pretty strong for a fox, and I think the tracks are too big.

    2 Well, it isn’t a walk or a gallop. I’m too rusty to narrow it down beyond that.

    3 The bottom print.

  3. Well, cats have retractable claws, so this would have to be a canine. This appears to be a direct registering mammal. I believe that only cats and foxes direct register, dogs and coyotes do not. So I would have to say that it is a fox. The prints seem too large for it to be a gray fox, so I will have to guess that it is a red fox. It appears to be a beautiful (dare I say perfect?) direct register, so the answer to question 3 is that both tracks are front tracks, overimposed by rear tracks.

  4. 1. Not enough photos to go on; if I was recording this I’d call it “Ambiguous – coyote or domestic dog”. The plantar pad is too large for red fox. The gait suggests it is a wild animal, but domestic dogs often do this gait for short distances, and the robust claws are more suggestive of domestic dog. If the gait was maintained for a short time, I would say Coyote. If it was just for a short time, and then started running all directions, I’d day domestic dog.
    2. Gait is side trot.
    3. Front foot is the lower of the 2 tracks.

  5. I admit that a few isolated photos can hardly tell the whole story. But even so, many of you saw enough to venture guesses. Thanks for contributing. I’ve updated the Quiz Answers page with my thoughts.

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