December Scavenger Hunt

For many of us in northern climates, this is the beginning of the snow tracking season. Often in snow, track patterns are clearer than the prints themselves—and sometimes all we have to go on for identification.

Our December Scavenger Hunt includes three track patterns which can look quite similar, but are produced by completely different gaits. Over the coming weeks, I invite you to look for examples of each of the following track patterns and record them to our iNaturalist project page:

1) 2x2 Walk (aka “raccoon walk”)
2) 2x2 Bound (aka “weasel bound”)
3) Side Trot (aka “canine trot”)

For an extra challenge, try to find and document any of the following. Note that some of these are exceptionally rare.

1) A 2x2 walk pattern left by an animal other than a raccoon
2) A 2x2 bound pattern left by an animal other than a weasel
3) A Side Trot left by an animal other than a canine

Some notes on terminology:

“Track pattern” refers to an arrangement of footprints on the ground. “Gait” refers to the way an animal moved its body to travel. Track patterns are generally named for the gaits we presume are used to create them. We infer information about the gait an animal was using by studying the track pattern – but when we are looking at the ground, we are always looking at a track pattern, never a gait.

Some authors refer to the “2x2” Bound” track pattern as a “2x2 Lope.”

Posted by jonpoppele jonpoppele, December 02, 2019 20:49


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