Thursday, January 21, 2010

Track Quiz Answers

#1.  How many White-tailed Deer made these tracks?

Answer:  Two deer made these parallel sets of tracks.  They most likely weren't walking side-by-side, but instead one was following behind the other.  They obviously were headed in the same direction, however.

#2. What semi-arboreal mammal left these tracks in the snow?

Answer:  Virginia Opossum.  These climbing critters have more than just a prehensiled tail to aid their climbing skills.  The opposable "thumbs" on the inside of each of the back feet (circled) also help opossums grasp branches as they climb trees, vines, and shrubs while foraging for fruit and other elevated foods.

#3.  Who is the late night scavenger leaving tracks in my lawn?

Answer:  Raccoon.  The front and back feet are different sizes with the front ones leaving the smaller tracks in the photo.  Notice the long toes present on those front feet (circled).  These dexterous digits are the raccoon's most prized asset and effective tool for foraging for prey along ponds, streamsides, and in your garbage cans.

#4.  Who hopped through the snow?

Answer:  Grey Squirrel.  Each track is comprised of an impression of each of the squirrel's four feet as it hopped from point A to point B.  The large impressions of each track are from the back feet; small impressions from the front feet.  Follow the direction of the back feet's impressions to find out which way the squirrel was headed.

The snow is all gone for now, but you can continue to look for animal tracks in mud and soft soil until the snow returns.  Enjoy our early spring-like weather break while it lasts.

-Adam Zorn, Naturalist

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