2. This gait is an overstep walk. (Walking fast enough that the hind
tracks land forward of the front tracks.)
3. This muskrat was walking at a good clip. This stride of up to 10
inches is the longest I have ever measured for a muskrat. Perhaps this
muskrat was a bit nervous being on the pavement, away from the safety of
4. The tracks are old. A muskrat is not a very heavy animal, and the
tracks were pretty clear, so that means the mud was pretty soft when the
tracks were made. But when I discovered the tracks, the mud was dried,
cracked, and rock-hard. A couple key clues was the location (northern
Illinois) and time of year (October) – autumn weather here is cool
enough there that it would have taken quite a while for the mud to bake.
My first guess was the tracks were at least 7 days old. (Upon
researching the weather almanac, I learned that the tracks were actually
31 days old, as that was the most recent significant rainfall.)
I enjoyed the opportunity to show my nephews these signs of wildlife
in their neighborhood. The tracks made for a good puzzle.