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Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #21 - Answer

The answer is JAVELINA (COLLARED PECCARY), the wild pig of the southwest.

The photos show that the animal is a small hoofed animal, such as a baby deer, baby antelope, baby bighorn sheep, javelina or armadillo. This was a tough quiz, as the rain had made the prints unclear, and it takes some thinking to figure out which is the most likely animal to have exhibited the tracks & behavior seen.

So here’s how you figure it out. The tracks have two toes, which tends to rule out armadillo (while armadillos can leave 2-toed prints, they more commonly show 3 toes, like a bird). Additionally, the location was Arizona, which rules out armadillo with more certainty. The mystery animal travels in groups, and all prints were the same size – this would tend to rule out babies of deer / antelope / sheep, which would be expected to travel with the adults who would leave larger tracks. The winter season is also inconsistent with the time of year that these animals would be having babies, and the digging behavior is also inconsistent with them.

Southern Arizona is prime habitat for javelinas. Javelinas have hoofed feet that are rather small for their bodies, consistent with the prints seen. They travel in groups, so that fits. Although the prickly pear cactus in the photo was not fed upon, it is one of the javelina's favorite foods – they devour it needles and all with their scissor-like teeth (they are one tough critter!). They also eat a variety of other foods, including rodents, worms & roots by digging. This is an example of how when the tracking conditions aren’t pristine you sometimes need to gather every clue possible to decipher the story.

I am thankful for the earth, river, sky & rain that helped to tell the story of this fascinating animal, and hope you enjoyed it as well.

Wishing you all some good Dirt Time until next month’s tracker quiz.




Quiz #21 - Question      ...on to Quiz #22

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