It’s not uncommon to come across animal tracks when you’re hiking, camping or just spending time in the great outdoors. However, more than just looking at them, you should be able to recognize them so you can get a better idea of what animals are surrounding you in that area.
Learning to Recognize Animal Tracks
Hikers, backpackers, campers, and everyone who enjoys being in touch with nature, should be aware of their surroundings to avoid certain dangers. Being able to identify which animals inhabit the area you are in is very important. This can be achieved through research but this guide is meant to help gain some of that knowledge.
Consider the Habitat
Having some knowledge of the types of animals that live where you are is essential. The first step toward identifying what animal is responsible for the track is to consider where the track has been found and think of what kind of animals live in that area, and could be responsible for it. For example, you could think a certain track was left by a racoon, but if you know that raccoons don’t typically inhabit that area, you can quickly narrow down your list and make it easier for yourself to identify who’s responsible.
Tracks are like fingerprints, each one is different. By looking at the features of its shape, length and width, and whether it has claws or toes, you can get closer to finding out which animals surround you. For example:
- Feline or Canine Tracks: Both canines and felines have four toes in the front and hind feet. In the case of canines like coyotes or wolves, you can find claw marks also, which doesn’t happen with felines as much as they retract their claws. Another difference is that canines will leave a single lobe imprint, while felines will show two separate lobes.
- Deer Tracks: Deer in the US leave a two-toed track. The size of the track will depend on the size of the animal and the condition of the ground.
The more you know and the more you experiment, the easier it will become to read the tracks and identify what types of animals you’re surrounded by. Next time you hit the trails in Colorado, keep an eye out for elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and more Colorado wildlife.