I woke up before my daughter this morning, which is a feat in and of itself. This means that I had plenty of time to do my own thing. I thought about watching some "grown up" tv... you know, like an action flick or a thriller. Something I don't normally have the chance to do, since I don't want my 4 year old to have nightmares.
In the end, though, I decided that what I really wanted to do was play Ultimate Animal Tracker Detective. Not exactly something I'm good at, but it's fun, and that's what really matters.
Since it snowed the evening before, I had the opportunity to see what the critters living in the area had been up to. Standing on the back porch, I saw a lot of squirrel tracks.
This is good.
I know squirrels by now, so I had a fair shot at having my visions of animal tracker grandeur become a reality. I ran out with my camera to take pictures. There was a really nice example of the little guy moving in one direction, then quickly turning and re-tracing his path.
As I stared at the photo, however, I realized that I was going to have to give up my aspirations toward becoming a great and magnificent tracker.Why?
Because I wasn't looking at squirrel tracks at all!
I made an assumption due to what is common in my yard, and ran with it. My assumption, however, was wrong.
What I was actually looking at were rabbit tracks. Here's a close-up of a track a bit further down the trail.
|He was moving to the right in this photo.|
Unlike squirrels, who have more of a squished up look to their tracks, rabbit tracks are y-shaped. While moving, rabbits land with their hind feet first, and their front feet last, one foot behind the other.
I had a mission.
Since I made the mistake of assuming I had found squirrel tracks, I decided I had to rectify this infraction by finding real squirrel tracks. I'd search, therefore, until I found them.
Yeah... I have a lot of dumb ideas.
My yard, which was once a pristine white with no breaks except rabbit tracks is now filled with boot tracks. The good news?
|Again, this photo is showing movement to the right.|
It's a rather cruddy photo, but I finally found some squirrel tracks along the edge of the fenced area of my backyard, and ended at the base of a tree.
While not a perfect image, it gives you an idea of the difference in their tracks. The bounding movement of a squirrel produces a rather squished up track, as the front and back paws land close together. Sometimes the tracks look like this, but other times, the tracks will actually come together as a near perfect line of four paws.
That's the look I was hoping to give you.
Oh, well... Never say Never! I'll be sure to post that particular track when I find it in the future.