A Natural Mystery: Track

Published November 13th, 2012


Info: 1.5″ Length, 1.5″ Width. In a hemlock forest about 10 feet away from a stream.

What animal do you think made this track?

Is it male or female? Right foot or Left? Front or Rear? Post your answers in the comments below and we plan on letting you know in a a couple of weeks what we think it is!

Thomas MeliThomas MeliThomas Meli, Instructor

Thomas has studied primitive skills and nature awareness with great naturalists such as Tom Brown Jr., Dan Gardoqui, Dan Hansche, and George Leoniak. He is a Level 1 Track & Sign interpreter through Cybertracker International – the most rigorous tracking certification in the world. Thomas completed the White Pine nine-month tracking apprenticeship, attended a weeklong bird language intensive, and served as a seasonal naturalist at Mohonk Preserve for two years. More about Thomas's work.

8 thoughts on “A Natural Mystery: Track”

  1. Hmmm… reminds me of a fox. lots of hair, no?

  2. paul tobin says:

    Read fox male left front

    1. Wild Earth says:

      Why red and not grey fox?

  3. David Vogt says:

    I was thinking bobcat right front

    1. Wild Earth says:

      Bobcat, eh? Whatever gave you that idea, Dave? ;-)

  4. paul tobin says:

    It spoke to me as red also the size i think gray is a little smaler. I think the red have more hair on the paws

  5. paul tobin says:

    I’m going to say it’s looking to the right

  6. Thomas Meli says:

    Hey Everyone! Here’s my thinking on this (I’m doing this from memory and don’t have a field guide on me, so here I go!). With a bobcat, the toes would look more like teardrops (the next time you see a cat print, look at the toes, they look like a bit asymmetrical, like teardrops). Also the heel pad at the bottom would have 3 lobes at the bottom not two as it does here, and would have two lobes at the top (1 here). It is rounded like a cat print, but if you look closely you can see claw marks at the tip of each foot (a bigger darker round dot at the very tip of each print). So for me, that makes it unlikely to be a feline.

    Fox on the other hand sounds good to me – the fur, the size, the shape of the pads. Its not a domestic dog because domestic dogs typically have very prominent blunted claws. And plus the track is too elegant to be a domestic dog. :).

    The size fits a grey fox, and I believe its too small to be a red fox. In my memory, a red fox minimum would be more like 1.7″ not 1.5″. Even though we are not sure if this is a front or a rear – I also don’t see the characteristic “bar” at the bottom of the track heel pad, which normally indicates a red fox front. In canines, the front feet are larger than the hind feet (think big strong shoulder girdle), and if this was a red fox, it would have to be the “smaller foot” which would be the rear, so given its size, it “wouldn’t have the bar at the bottom anyway.” But that’s a really small rear foot for a red fox – so I pin it as a grey fox.

    Without my field guide Its hard for me to say what side of the body or front or rear. However, I am noticing that the heel pad is slightly oriented towards the top left of the page, while the toes are oriented more upward, this may be some hint about which side of the body. As for front or rear, the size of the track (fronts are bigger) & the distance of the toes from the heel pad and the overall “roundness or longness” of the track typically tells me if its a front or a rear – but now I’m forgetting which. You’ve got enough hints – What do you think?

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