Animal Tracks in the Snow

A favorite winter activity of mine is observing animal tracks in the snow. When I wander about after a snowstorm I usually have my camera available to capture whatever creature has left evidence of its presence.

Finding deer tracks is not unusual in my Connecticut landscape. Deer tracks are so common … like these captured during previous winters …  that I rarely photograph them any more unless the shot is particularly interesting.

Here’s a simple set of deer tracks, and a view of a deer freeway, both within a stone’s throw of my gardens and home.

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animal track in snow-arrowIt’s also not unusual to see tracks left by smaller animals such as chipmunks, squirrels, opossum, raccoon, mice, and the occasional fox. Last week, after finishing my shoveling chores, I spotted the tracks of what I suspect to be a mouse. Normally, I would not photograph simple mouse tracks but these were different. They showed where the mouse traveled atop the snow, then dug under the snow and continued its journey until it headed downward to the soil level. The red arrow shows where the mouse tunneled into the snow.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My resource for deciphering animal tracks is Scats and Tracks of the Northeast, by James C. Halfpenny, PhD and Jim Bruchac.

While the book does not give information pertaining to animal tracks in snow, it does provide drawings and particulars of the tracks … and scat, which is another good way to determine which animal has visited your yard … of 70 different creatures.

The pages describing the white-footed mouse show a gait pattern similar to the tracks I found. The tail tracks make me pretty sure it was a mouse, rather than a chipmunk or vole, that tunneled below the snow. According the the book’s illustrations the tails of chipmunks and voles don’t leave tracks.

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The book is a good resource for staying abreast of the creatures that share your landscape.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry

5 comments for “Animal Tracks in the Snow

  1. January 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I always check the tracks and trails that are so easy to see after a snowfall. And yes, we have a deer throughway here too! Sometimes I see different tracks, then a big area of disturbed snow where some kind of battle took place, then a single set of tracks leading away. It’s disturbing to have such clear evidence of what goes on out there.

    • January 6, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      I don’t necessarily find it disturbing, Laurrie, rather I see it as quite enlightening to be able to track where my neighboring creatures travel. By following their tracks in the snow I gain a better understanding of their habits and the places they most like to be. What’s disturbing is finding mouse tracks that lead directly to the house, then having them disappear!

  2. January 8, 2014 at 8:24 am

    eeeeek!

  3. January 11, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    What a great book. I need to invest in a book like that as we often find ourselves investigating tracks in the snow and wildly guessing at what they may be. I find it fascinating the mice tunnel under the snow and live down there with total ease.

    • January 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Exactly, Marguerite. I was very surprized to actually see where the little creature dug below the snow.

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