Check Out The Tracks – Rodents and Rabbits

 

snowshoe hare and squirrel tracks

tracks of squirrel (left) and snowshoe hare (right)

mouse tracks

mouse tracks

[PHOTO: CWF]

Recent weeks in my neck of the woods have included a couple of short warm spells. This gets me excited for spring, especially as I’ve been hearing spring bird calls and am now seeing returning birds like red-winged blackbirds, grackles and geese.

But as with many Canadian springs, those warm days were followed by snow. This helped me get my last fixes of winter, including a snowshoe outing last weekend in Gatineau Park, near Ottawa. But the warm spells are getting warmer, so I decided to share one last batch of animal tracks in the snow before my focus shifts to spring.

These photos help show the main differences between snowshoe hares and squirrels – the size of the track, with the toonie included to give perspective, and the pattern in which the paws are arranged. Snowshoe hares typically place their front paws one in front of the other whereas squirrels generally place their front paws side by side. As with most things in nature, there will always be variability and my animal visitors were no exception.

I’m adding in a photo of mouse tracks that I found the other day. Note how much smaller its tracks are but that its pattern is similar to the squirrel’s. Click here to see more photos of these animal tracks in our facebook album. You can also learn more in this article on snowshoe hares by CWF’s Terri-Lee Reid or in this guest article on tracks by Chad Clifford.

With spring coming (or already here for some of you in Canada) keep your eyes open for depressions and patterns in the mud, sand or even grass. Who knows, you may be able to tell the story of who visited your garden or local park just hours before!

Sarah Coulber

Author: Sarah Coulber

Sarah is an Education Specialist at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. She writes about the benefits and ‘how-to’s’ of wildlife-friendly gardening, coordinates content for the Gardening for Wildlife web section, co-manages the wildlife-friendly demonstration gardens at CWF headquarters and assists Canadians looking to achieve similar results with their own properties.

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