Tracking Quiz website

Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #5 - Answer


The answer is OPOSSUM.

Many of you were smarter than I was. For a long time I tracked this area and thought these tracks were from muskrats.  The habitat threw me off - in winter, when their tracks & burrows are most obvious, these opossums concentrate their activity around the pond, which definitely has frequent sign of muskrat - scat, plunge holes in the ice, and shells from feasts on freshwater clams. 

For some reason that remains a mystery to me, the opossums in my area stay in undeveloped areas & very close to water during the winter; I almost never see their tracks in snow in residential areas.  But once spring arrives, they venture out of the developed areas, crossing roads into residential areas and far from water - the most obvious sign of this is road-killed opossums.

The indirect register is common to both opossum & muskrat, and so is the star-shaped front footprint and the tendency to drag the feet in shallow snow.  The behavior of walking on the skinny log, I don't
believe is indicative of either animal, but it wouldn't be inconsistent with either animal. 

The stride of 7-9", however, matches opossum better than muskrat.  And while both animals dig burrows, from what I know muskrat burrows almost always have underwater entrances.

Opossums have thumbs that on their hind feet can point backwards - you can see something akin to this in photo C8, but my experience is that it's pretty rare when the thumb actually points backwards like shown in the field guides.


Quiz #5 - Question      ...on to Quiz #6

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