Pawprints in the Snow

One of my favourite things about early morning walks in the snow are the signs of wild animals I spot everywhere. Before the bootprints of other humans, or the tell-tale marks of pet dogs, have trod all over the white canvas, it is easy to pick up the more unusual traces of more exotic species. It also shows me a little bit of the reason behind Shiva’s sniffing madness. No wonder she can’t resist the seduction of the hideaway under the branches, when so many animals call it home.

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Most of the tracks are easy to decipher. Squirrels, mice, and birds make up the majority of pawprints in the snow. The rabbits are even simpler to detect, with their larger hind legs and their funny hop. That doesn’t make these smaller animals less fun to track. I take great joy in following a bunny trail, hoping if we can just go far enough, we will find a utopian burrow. Our own Watership Down. 

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There is a certain part of the forest in the river valley that I love to visit the most after a recent snow fall. It could be wishful thinking, but every time Shiva and I visit there – as long as we make it before everyone else – I see small, canine-like prints scattered along the side of the path and leading up a hill. There are no human tracks around these footfalls, so I know they can’t be made by an off-leash dog. I like to believe there is a fox den nearby and dream of catching sight of one eventually, if we are quiet enough.

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Alas, I am sure whatever animal is creating these tracks would run off long before we entered the area. For all I know the prints are those of someone’s cat or a small dog that has strayed too far. But I like to believe in the secrets of a fox den. It makes me smile to think such special creatures could be living near my front yard.

Every once in a while I will come across prints that I can’t interpret. In all my years of dog walking, I have seen raccoon and porcupine and coyote, I know all of the above roam freely in the ravine of our city. But these tracks that Shiva found recently don’t match those of which I have become familiar. I can’t determine what they are or even make a solid guess. This is a northern city with northern animals, I assumed I had seen them all. But I still have yet to even come up with the possible perpetrator of the below prints.

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I wish my photographs were better. They had to be snapped quickly as there were joggers on the path behind us and Shiva was giving them the evil eye. But the toes looked long and there weren’t the normal pad marks from dog paws.

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Perhaps I am wrong and they are canine, maybe a dog with more fur which would not necessarily show in the snow. But I haven’t come across anything like these tracks before and I am curious. I haven’t seen anything like them again, either.

What do you think they could be? Do you enjoy following animal trails as much as we do?

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10 Comments on Pawprints in the Snow

  1. Lauranne
    February 11, 2014 at 5:07 am (2 months ago)

    My gut feeling was badger – I got pretty good at identifying them thanks to lessons from the ex. Usually they will be in a straight line crossing the track.
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  2. Pamela | Something Wagging This Way Comes
    February 11, 2014 at 6:34 am (2 months ago)

    They’re new to me.

    I have mixed feelings when I spot tracks in our snow. Besides dogs, cats, squirrels, and bunnies, I occasionally see skunk tracks. I hope that Honey’s good nature and general pacifism keep us from ever having to do a deskunking. Especially with temps below 0 degrees.

    Someday you should get a go pro camera for your head. It would allow you to get these shots while managing Shiva with both hands. Maybe put it on your Christmas list. :)
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  3. Jen
    February 11, 2014 at 7:47 am (2 months ago)

    I love walking in the woods behind our house after a fresh snow. I see so many tracks and my imagination goes crazy as to who they belong too and if they’re watching us.

    I’m not sure what those tracks are would love to find out!

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  4. Roxy the Traveling Dog
    February 11, 2014 at 7:47 am (2 months ago)

    Those are new to me too. When we had our house I would hike up the mountain in our backyard. I loved going there after a snow fall so I could see all the tracks.

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  5. Blueberry's human
    February 11, 2014 at 11:23 am (2 months ago)

    Oh wow – that makes your walks even more interesting! About the only tracks I see in the desert are horse shoe prints, bicycle prints, human shoe prints. Boooooring. Although I do get excited (I know, it’s weird) when I go hiking up north and find deer droppings!
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  6. Jodi
    February 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm (2 months ago)

    I’m always on the lookout for prints on our walks, but seldom do I see any I can recognize. On Saturday I took a picture of a print I found in the road. It puzzled me because it was IN THE ROAD and for a split second I thought Mr. Tumnus was on our road.

    Then when Delilah and I headed into the woods, I saw even more tracks and it was then that I realized it was a deer. The really interesting thing was that the deer were following the paths made by the humans.

    Oh, and I got nuthin’ about those tracks. Nuthin’
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  7. Miranda
    February 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm (2 months ago)

    Loved Watership Down… Also love tracks! I think it’s fun to see what animals ran around and did. No clue what these are, though.
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