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Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #54 - Answer

by Brian Booth

The mystery animal is SHOWSHOE HARE.

The snowshoe hare is a rather amazing animal, small but having extremely large hind feet that provide flotation in soft snow. This allows it to travel easily on the top of the snow and evade predators that are burdened by sinking deeply into the snow. This hare, hopping 4 feet while going uphill, was not out of the ordinary – this is easily within the hare’s capability. In one instance I observed tracks of a snowshoe hare going “full bore” escaping a coyote, and its stride was 18 feet!

Photo 54H

The snowshoe hare usually travels in a predictable hopping gait common to rabbits and rodents, in which, after a long jump propelled by the hind feet, the front feet land, and the hind feet wrap around the front legs and land forward of the front tracks. Hares prefer to have their front feet offset, leaving a group print in a classic “Y” shape.

The tracks in this quiz were quite rare, as the shallow, slushy show allowed many fine details to register as dark gray, in sharp contrast to the white snow. The hare is so light that in most substrates the track micro-details do not register - the tracks just show as featureless impressions and can typically only be identified by the gait.

Being a master of camouflage, the snowshoe hare is also a master of disguise – with its large hind feet and small front feet, under certain conditions its tracks can appear similar to various animals such as coyote, dog, bobcat, beaver, otter, weasel, marten and fisher.

Hope you all get out and do some tracking soon.




Quiz #54 - Question      ...on to Quiz #55

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