Alphabet of Tracking 3: Other Toe Counts

by Carl Strang

 

I’ll conclude the alphabet portion of this abbreviated tracking primer with species which typically show two toes, and those which register four toes on the front feet and five on the hind feet.

 

Two-toed feet mean white-tailed deer in the wild fauna of today’s northeast Illinois. In the photo, a hind footprint partly overlaps a front footprint.

 

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

 

 

The four-five combination indicates members of the rodent family. Three examples follow. Our largest rodent is the beaver. Here is its four-toed front footprint.

 

Beaver front footprint

Beaver front footprint

 

 

In muskrat tracks the hind footprint is much larger than the front footprint. Can you find all five toes belonging to the hind print to the left in the photo, and all four toes on the front foot to the right?

 

Muskrat tracks

Muskrat tracks

 

 

This set of squirrel tracks has four footprints. The outer prints are the hind feet, the inner ones are front feet. Some study may be required to find all the toes, but they all are showing.

 

Squirrel tracks

Squirrel tracks

 

 

The next lesson when I return to this topic will introduce typical footprint arrangements, or gaits, of these animals.

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