Monday, November 10, 2008

Track of the Week 8

October 25, 2008 along the river near Vantage Washington

1. What species made the clearer tracks?

These are classic tracks of a bobcat. Notice the overall roundness of the tracks, the asymmetry, as well as the flat, lobed front of the heel pad. These characteristics mark it as a feline and the size puts it at a bobcat.

2. Which feet are they?

They are on the right side of the body because cats have a leading toe 3 (the third toe from the inside counting the inner toe that generally doesn't show up in tracks). It is a little difficult to tell which is the leading toe of the foot closest to the ruler, but is more clear on the further track.

One way to help remember the leading toe is to look at your hand and pretend you don't have a thumb. Which finger sticks out the most? The middle finger, which is the third finger from the inside if you count the thumb.

The track closest to the ruler is the front. Notice how much wider it is the the other track which is a hind.

Bonus 1. What sex is it?

I think it is helpful to compare these tracks with the earlier bobcat track of the week. Notice how much more space there is between the toes in this week's tracks and that the tracks are smaller. There is also quite a bit of space between the heel pad and the toes in comparison to the previous set. For these reasons I think this was a female bobcat.

Bonus 2. What are the genera of the fainter tracks?

The track at the lower end of the ruler is from a coyote: note the symmetry and tightness of the track.

I think the track in front of the bobcat tracks is difficult to id from this picture, but I believe it is the left hind track of a raccoon. The toes are at least somewhat finger like and I can just make out part of the inside fifth toe low down on the right side of the track.

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Anonymous said...

Okay, I'll be brave and make the first comment. The distinct tracks look like a cat, because of the lack of claw marks, number of toes and the vaguely notched area at the top of the pad. By size, I'm guessing a bobcat. I found a range map for Washington state which verified there potential prescence in that area. The print on the left looks like the back foot and the right, the front foot (using shapes of pad and toes). I read something about the front foot spreading the toes more as well. Seems like the tracks are on the large size, so I'll guess a male.
I'll make a guess about the faint track on the left. It looks very hand-like to me, I can make out claw marks and 4 distinct toe pads (I decided that the 5th is hard to see, but present). At first it reminded me of a racoon, but now I'm more comfortable with a skunk.

Jonathan said...

Thanks for your bravery :)

It seems you've analyzed the distinct tracks nicely, and I'm impressed with your observation of the indistinct track.