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Animal Tracks Identification: Critter Pictures

You don't have to be in the jungle or deep forest to be an animal tracker. Tracks are as close as your backyard—or a critter nibbling in your garden! See our animal track pictures below for clues to animal behavior!

Tracking is something that you learn by doing. Get out there an look! Here are a few tips:

  • Animal tracks are easiest to find in mud, soft garden soil, sand, and snow.
  • Study the ground closely. Get down on your hands and knees. Note the size of the track and whether it shows claw marks. You may wish to make a sketch.
  • Track early in the morning or late in the day when shadows make prints easier to see.
  • Watch for animal droppings called scat. The scat will also help you track the animal. If it's dry all the way through, the tracks may have been left a while ago. Scat can also tell you if you're tracking a vegetarian or a meat eater.
  • If you lose the trail, search in a circle around the track until you pick up the trail again.
  • The most important tip of all: don't get lost!

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Comments

I found some track in

By bubblie on December 14

I found some track in Washington as I was walking around the fields but can not figure out what they are, I have a picture they are about 2 inches long with two pints in front and two in back, I have a picture but not sure how to upload it. But you can view it here.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10202008605376216&l=342af9710a

Thanks for the help : )

It is hard to tell, as the

By Almanac Staff on December 15

It is hard to tell, as the prints are not distinct enough to show how many toes in front and behind, etc. Or, is each section showing just one footprint, rather than a group of four?

If each section is showing four prints, then it looks like an animal with a bounding gait. Gray squirrel?

http://www.bear-tracker.com/gsquirel.html

I'm not sure what the sharp points are--claws? But there are only two showing. It doesn't look like tail drag.

Here is a good site that might help you narrow the possibilities:

http://www.ussartf.org/animal_tracking.htm

Good luck with the identification!

My son and I found similar

By Dominick on November 26

My son and I found similar large 3-toed footprints here in Virginia. There are what appears to be 2 two-legged creatures walking side by side between our house and the neighbor. We took photos on the phone. They have 3 sharp toes and a roundish heel and quite large. We just had our first snowfall. They appear to start from nowhere. I did hear a noise from the bushes in my yard but it was dark. I went out to clear off the satellite dish and called my son to get the phone thinking it might be a bear based on the size. I noticed though it appeared 2 legged and had long strides.

may I please see the

By keith allen on December 12

may I please see the pictures?? thank you,,

keith

I live in Australia, in a

By Brookah

I live in Australia, in a rural city in Queensland. And I noticed tracks on the driver side door of my car, they don't appear anywhere else on my car, just on the driver door. They're three-pronged hand/foot prints, about 2 feet from the ground, I smudged a couple of the prints to check for scratches, and there were none. All of my friends are stumped as to what it could be, we thought it might have been a magpie, but they have claws and would have scratched the paint. I'm not sure how knowledgeable you are with Australian wildlife, but I couldn't find an Australian website like this :/

I do have pictures if that will help!

On the beach I found a line

By David Mohr

On the beach I found a line of tracks that we are not sure what they are. One set was with nails and one set without. All sets were in-line and exhibited clearly as four toed. Tracks are about 5" long and 4" wide. Maybe around 8" to 12" from track to track at one point. At other points they are almost jumbled. This is wet sand and the indentation showed no indication of caving in. We know that there have been cougar in the area as cougars have been sighted in some of the residential areas. Our problem is the tracks were in-line or one in front of the other....no side to side movement. Hopefully you can clear this up for us.

It's hard to tell without a

By Almanac Staff

It's hard to tell without a photo, and not knowing what state/province you've seen this. The inline gait with 4 toes showing on both front and back paws and large print suggests a cat or dog family member, especially cougar, wolf, or large domestic dog. Cat family members usually do not have claws out (retractable), whereas prints of dog members almost always show their claws. Dog family tracks are usually more elongated (tall) than cat ones, which are fairly round. Some dog family animals have longer toes in the middle than the outside. Large dog prints can be about 4 inches tall, sometimes larger, wolves about 4.5 to 5 inches. Wolves - claw marks usually present, trot in straight line, the hind paw usually falls exactly on the print the front paw made (direct register); toes, rather than middle pad, are usually the dominant feature. Dog prints usually meander; hind paw tends to fall near but slight off from the print that the front paw made. Coyote/lynx/bobcat/fox prints are smaller. Bears usually show 5 toes with claws. Cougar tracks usually equally wide as tall, or wider; the middle pad is usually the dominant feature; the hind paw may or may not exactly step on front paw print (normal walking, usually not; stalking, walking on snow or mud, usually direct register); rarely shows claws, unless running or walking on slippery surface (which sand might be); trail mostly straight. If you think it might be a cougar, check the overall shape of the print--is it round (cat) or elongated (dog/wolf)? Can you draw an X between the middle two toes and middle pad (dog/wolf)?

The following is a good introduction on telling the difference between canine and feline tracks:

http://www.bear-tracker.com/caninevsfeline.html

These may help you to identify the tracks further:

http://www.bear-tracker.com/cougar.html

http://northernbushcraft.com/animalTracks/cougar/notes.htm

http://northernbushcraft.com/animalTracks/wolf/notes.htm

http://www.ussartf.org/animal_tracking.htm

Good luck!

I live in Richmond VA. I keep

By Pattie G

I live in Richmond VA. I keep finding tracks in the mulch around my flower beds. Because it is mulch, the shape of the tracks is not really defined. I finally measured the most recent one. The front(?) tracks were about 2-2 1/2" deep (it's on an incline, so it's hard to get exact measurements), the back tracks were about the same. The width between the tracks was approximately 18" and the length from the front to the back was about 36". A deer? I am trying to determine just how big this animal might be, and if I should be nervous about going out in my yard at night! I've stayed up watching for it, and of course, when I'm watching, nothing. Thank you for ANY light you can shed on this.

I need help, I have some

By Laura Li

I need help, I have some Raccoon in my back yard. I don't know what to do.
All the fruit tree damage.

Thanks

I was wondering if any one

By Kygal76

I was wondering if any one could help me. I live in northeast ky and we own some untouched land which adjoins another farm that is large and untouched about 300acres total. Well we keep finding these tracks and we can't figure out what they may be. The tracks are only 3toes about 1 or 1/2 inch deep it has a I guess a stride length of about 3ft maybe a bit larger the track it's self is quite large as well. When we found the first set of tracks we thought possibly it could have been walked over twice causing it to look like three toes but we are finding the same set all over the land. Any one have any ideas what this could be? Curiosity is killing me! We see a lot of different critters around this area and there have been some reports here lately of cougars being spotted which have not been in this area in a long time. Some people are reporting grey wolves here in ky as well and some have been killed and tested the DNA to make sure they were the grey wolf and they are. We have not have wolves here in ages either we have a lot of coyotes but not the wolves.

We see a lot of deer here like any where else fox raccoons and bobcats but this is just got me puzzled people around here are seeing these tracks a lot and we have no clue what it could be. If you know or have any clues I would love to know. As I said we are finding more animal species here that have not been in this area in ages so it makes me wonder if there is some thing else new to our area. Thanks

Although we're still stumped

By Almanac Staff

Although we're still stumped (see earlier response below), do you think it might be an escaped exotic animal, such as an emu or rhea? These are large flightless birds, sort of like ostriches, that leave 3-toed tracks. (Ostrich tracks are different.) You can find photos of emu tracks etc. online.

I live in central ky. and

By grannysharon

I live in central ky. and have been finding three toed tracks for some time. These tracks are about 7 inches long and 5 inches wide at the toes, the toes are about 3 inches long with LONG claws. The toes all curve inward and there is a pad about 2-3 inches wide at the very back of the track. Whatever this thing is it walks on 2 feet with 2-3 feet between tracks. It can jump or fly because tracks appear and vanish, with none to show where it came from or where it went. I have pictures of the tracks and plaster casts. I need to know what this thing is! Serious replies please. It is not a turkey !

es

I live in Batavia, Ohio, and

By Cathy Hammond

I live in Batavia, Ohio, and what you've described fits the description of what walked through my yard early in 2014! Exactly! What the heck is it? I'd like to know too.

If they are 3 long toes

By Abena

If they are 3 long toes radiating out, it is probably a wild turkey.

I came across your comments

By Mike gillespie

I came across your comments as I was looking to identify some strange tracks I found in our front yard back in Jan/Feb. They sound like the same type of tracks you saw and I live in Louisville KY. I'm going to see if i can upload them to this site.

We're stumped. A search

By Almanac Staff

We're stumped. A search online yields a few other mentions of three-toed tracks in Kentucky, but no answers. Not seeing a photo makes it hard to know what classification of animal it might be (canine, feline, weasel, deer, pig, bird, etc.). Do you think it might be possible that it is one individual animal that was born with less (or more) toes that normal? Or, if the third "toe" is behind the other two, that it is a hopping animal and the toe behind are actually 2 paw prints that landed together? Usually, four or five toes around a central pad would show for most canine/feline mammals, or two or four impressions for hooved mammals. Birds, such as ruffed grouse, may show three "toes" radiating out from a central point (but grouse have a stride much smaller than 3 feet).

You might try taking a photo to a wildlife expert, such as a nearby state park or nature center. Show a closeup of one clear print, as well as one of the path and stride, and provide measurements of length/width of an individual print, as well as the stride length. Good luck with the ID!

I, too, had a similar

By Cathy Hammond

I, too, had a similar experience with prints in my yard early in 2014 after our first good snowfall. I live in Southwestern Ohio. Batavia to be exact, which is due north of Northeastern Kentucky. Unfortunately, I did not get pictures of the prints in my yard! I sure wish I had, as I've not been able to identify the prints. Here goes my description. Each foot pad is about the size of an adult males palm, with 3 claws in front of the foot pad. The 3 claws were not splayed out, and not attached to the foot pad. The 3 claws were in front of the foot pad. The prints were several feet apart and in a straight line, which leads me to believe it's bipedal. I'm stumped and so is everyone who saw them. I've looked at many prints on the internet in hopes of identifying them, but 3 clawed prints are hard to come by. Emu prints clearly show the 3 toes are attached to the foot pad. What my family saw clearly has 3 claws, not toes. We have a fair amount of deer, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, etc. Nothing matches what we've seen. I can't get it out of my mind. We get a little scared at night outside, not knowing. Shoot, if it were a cryptid, such as a bigfoot, at least it's more human like. If you come up with any ideas, I'd be thrilled to hear them.

i have pictures of the tracks

By grannysharon

i have pictures of the tracks i reported a while back. how do i send them to the site for identification? will they still be my property and not be copied?

You may email the photos to

By Almanac Staff

You may email the photos to AlmanacEditors@yankeepub.com. As editors of the Almanac, we are not tracking experts, however, we are happy to take a look! If you email them, we will not share them.

Was walking my 2 dogs in a

By wendy Gratrix

Was walking my 2 dogs in a large farmer's field and they went crazy trying to track these prints. Was hoping you could help identify them!
My dog Jersey is an 88 pound bulldog/boxer and the prints are bigger than hers. Thanks.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152050587303299.1073741852.521013298&type=1&l=186984cf2f

It's hard to know without a

By Almanac Staff

It's hard to know without a few more clues, such as length and width of the tracks (and/or, the size of your dog's prints), and what state/province you found them. They do look like a raccoon's, which has back paws that can be 2 to 4 inches long; front paws are about 1.5 to 3 inches long; both front and back paws show five toes in a clear print. Claws may not be seen. Typical walking gait is to have a hind and front paw near each other; these sets of prints are usually about 10 to 18 inches apart. If the animal is galloping or loping, it will show as a different pattern.

Good luck with the ID!

Could it be Badger? I live in

By wendy Gratrix

Could it be Badger? I live in Ontario Canada in the Simcoe County region. Found a weasel head fully intact(but no body) very close to the prints. My dogs paws are 3 inches long by 2 inches wide and these tracks were bigger than that. Maybe 5 inches long by 3 inches wide. Went back to measure but unfortunately they were erased by the weather.

I live in jefferson co.

By ronald l bailey

I live in jefferson co. pa.I'm a hunter and have seen all kinds of animal tracks, I have never seen these before.4 tracks 2.5 inch,2 in front,one in the middle,one in the back. can't pick out a print,It is 30ft.to to the woods,first three jumps are 6ft apart,the next 2 are 8ft apart In6ins of snow what can jump like that?It was not a deer. thanks-Ron

There are several animals

By Almanac Staff

There are several animals that can jump that far. Are you saying that the track you saw is not a hoofed mammal (such as deer, elk, moose, etc.)? In that case, could it be of the cat or canine family? It is too bad you could not detect whether the print showed toes (and how many on front and back paws), or claws or no. Canines may show claws, whereas cats usually have their claws sheathed. Two "toes" are deer family; 4 toes, rabbits; 5 toes, weasel, beaver, river otter, etc.; 4 toes front and 5 behind, many rodents, such as squirrels, woodchucks . . . .

A coyote is said to be able to jump more than 13 or so feet. A red fox or bobcat, about 12 feet, such as in pursuit of rodents under the snow.

2.5 to 3.5 inches are the size of coyote paws. Bobcats are usually about 1.5 inches. Red fox can vary between about 1.75 and 2.5.

The track patterns for certain animals can change between galloping and walking. It could be that this animal was galloping, perhaps in pursuit of prey, or to escape a predator.

Wish we could be of more help! Good luck with the ID!

I have had foot prints in my

By Debbie McLeland

I have had foot prints in my yard every time it snows. There are 2 long toes infront, 1 in the back. The print is atleast 8 inches in total. The prints are like one-legged and are 4 to 7 feet apart. It has some weight because they are atleast an inch deep.

Map Wild Turkey

By Bill kendrick

Map

Wild Turkey Range
Audio

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Omnivore
Average life span in the wild:
3 to 4 years
Size:
Body, 3.6 to 3.8 ft (1.1 to 1.2 m); wingspan, 4.1 to 4.8 ft (1.3 to 1.4 m)
Weight:
5.5 to 18.8 lbs (2.5 to 10.8 kg)
Group name:
Flock
Size relative to a 6-ft (2-m) man:

The turkey was Benjamin Franklin's choice for the United States's national bird. The noble fowl was a favored food of Native Americans. When Europeans arrived, they made it one of only two domestic birds native to the Americas—the Muscovy duck shares the distinction.

Yet by the early 20th century, wild turkeys no longer roamed over much of their traditional range. They had been wiped out by hunting and the disappearance of their favored woodland habitat.

Wild turkeys typically forage on forest floors, but can also be found in grasslands and swamps. They feed on nuts, seeds, fruits, insects, and salamanders.

Wild turkey reintroduction programs began in the 1940s, and the birds were relocated to areas where populations had been decimated but woodlands were recovering. Such efforts worked so well that wild turkeys now live in areas where they may not have occurred when Europeans first reached the Americas. Today, flocks are also found in Hawaii, Europe, and New Zealand.

Only male turkeys display the ruffled feathers, fanlike tail, bare head, and bright beard commonly associated with these birds. They also gobble with a distinctive sound that can be heard a mile (a kilometer and a half) away.

Females lay 4 to 17 eggs, and feed their chicks after they hatch—but only for a few days. Young turkeys quickly learn to fend for themselves as part of mother/child flocks that can include dozens of animals. Males take no role in the care of young turkeys.

Domestic turkeys have white-tipped tails because they are the descendants of a Mexican subspecies that was taken to Europe for domestication in the early 16th century. The feature distinguishes them from most modern wild turkeys, though captive diet, lifestyle, and breeding have caused other physical discrepancies and can jump 7ft

I have the same thing in my

By Shanece Holly

I have the same thing in my backyard!! My husband and I are trying to figure it out.

Hi, I was hoping you might

By Josh Hamilton

Hi,

I was hoping you might help me identify a track. A link to the image is below. Any help is greatly appreciated!

https://www.dropbox.com/sc/cqkrtw6t3jnezu1/XHWTBiElJo

Thanks,
Josh

Dear Josh, A good clue to

By Almanac Staff

Dear Josh, A good clue to this track is that it is showing five toes, with perhaps a hint of claws. My best guess would be a member of the weasel family, with my first choice perhaps a wolverine, if you think the print is the right size. If the print is smaller, then my guess would be an American marten or mink. If you need further help, you might try asking a park ranger in the Washington area, or a nature center. They may be more familiar with the animals in your area, and what might be about in winter. All the best, Heidi S., OFA staff

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