IDENTIFYING ANIMAL TRACKS - OCTRACKERS - MYSTERY TRACK ANALYSIS
This is an indirect register of a coyote’s rear track on top of and slightly to the right of its front track. It was moving from left to right across your screen. Look for the center two toes in the front of the group and then find the center two toes of its hind foot which are visible slightly behind and to the right of the front track. Remember that the canine hind track is always the smallest.
This is the left rear foot of a Gray Fox. Note that the claws don’t show on this small, hairy and nearly oval foot and virtually never show in its track. The winged shape of this heel pad is how you would tell the rear foot from the more triangular front pad.

A large motor vehicle was moving through the sand and going from right to left across your screen. Look for the steep "pressure release" marks that are made when the tire pushes against the soil to propel the vehicle to the left.
These “deer-like” marks were created by the cleats on the bottom of a mountain biker’s footware. Remember that the tracks of a deer are deeper at the tip and its front track may be splayed out.

This unusual track of a rabbit shows both the front and rear feet as it moves from the left to the right side of your screen.

This track was made by a snake, actually two snakes that were mating at the same time as moving in a gait biologists call lateral undulation. The pressure releases show that they were moving toward the top of the screen.
This unusual deer track shows a front hoof on top of the front hoof. It was heading toward the bottom of your screen.

A ground squirrel made this drag mark by lowering its body into the sand, perhaps to scratch its belly. You can see portions of its tracks on both sides of the drag.

This track was made by the darkling or acrobat beetle as it moved from the top of the screen downward. Its body is in the center of the track and its hind legs leave marks that appear as arrows to suggest its direction of travel.

The drag mark was created by the tail of an opossum as it walked up to and around the rock. Look in each of tracks and you might see the opposing thumb on the rear foot of this species. The substrate was gypsum powder.
This image was created by a kangaroo rat that was hopping from the left side to the right side of your screen. Note that it’s hind feet register side by side and look like little snow-shoes. If it was made by a lizard you would see the tracks alternating


This image shows the tracks of a striped skunk that was doing a lope and going from the left to right. A lope begins with a front foot and then a back, front and back and then a break. All four tracks were within 9". This is a very common gait for this species.

This scat was left by a roadrunner and it’s scats are unique. It might be as large as a walnut and will have a white mushroom like white-cap Remember that only birds and reptiles have uric acid in their scats. The left foot track of this zygodactyl species is partially visible under the foot print of the human shoe.

This image was created by two domestic dogs that were galloping along the shoreline and heading towards the right of your screen. Remember that the sequence of a gallop is always front-front-back-back followed by a break. Camera-angle distortion makes it difficult to determine the relative size of these tracks

The bird track is that of a mourning dove moving from the right to the left. The linear track was made by a legless lizard (Anniella pulchra) that was moving in the same direction under the human shoe print.

This image was created by a cougar that was doing an overstep walk as it was moving from the left to the right of the screen. This is a common gait and shows a slight increase in speed over that of an understep or direct register. You are seeing two left tracks followed by two right tracks and so on.

This image of the spotted skunk track is seldom found in this County any longer. It was heading towards the top of the screen. Note that they are considerably smaller than the tracks of the striped skunk and the heel pads are totally different. Compare it to the track of November 2012.

This track was tough! It was made by a large domestic dog heading towards the bottom of the page. Knowing that the center two toes of all canines are about equal in length and the tip of their toes are deeper than the heel pad helps. Also recognizing the substrate was a clue. If it didn’t look like either a coyote or fox then that only left you a domestic dog in this County. At 3-1/2" though it could not have been much else.

This one measured about 1 3/4" wide and 2" in length. Count the toes and realize the center two digits are equal in length. The chevron shaped heel pad is what positively identifies this as the track of the red fox.

Another tough one. These alternating left-right tracks were made by a pigeon walking slowly from right to left. It was on a slope and you can see where the sand slipped down as each impact was made.

These two tracks were made by the right two feet of a bobcat that was doing an overstep walk heading towards the top of the screen. Remember that front tracks for this species are larger and more asymmetric than the hind tracks. The hind track (top) usually shows more free space between the digits and the heel pad than does the front track. Put your hand down showing only four fingers and you will see how the long digit indicates left or right.

This is a good example of a three-beat lope that created by a domestic dog going to the right side of your screen. The rule for this type of a lope is that if the center two digits are not free and clear of each other you must interpret it as a lope. Watch for the break in analyzing all lopes and gallops. The little round holes surrounding the tracks were made by sand crabs.
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Identification and analysis of past mystery tracks will be entered here periodically. On many of our mystery photo pages we provide a nebulous clue of some sort to make it more interesting. Please let us know if you have problems with any of these.