Tracking Quiz website

Tracking Quizzes

Quiz #28 - Answer

1. The mystery animal is DOMESTIC CAT.

Here is how you figure this out: The animal has small feet, round in shape, with 4 toes and no claws showing. The tracks are asymmetrical (the 4 toes are not a mirror image of each other). The plantar pad has 2 lobes on the leading edge, and 3 lobes on the trailing edge. All of these indicate the cat family, and the small size plus the urban habitat indicate domestic cat.

2. The rain started first, then progressed to snow. You can tell this from the drip marks from the overhead arbor, which appear as depressions in the snow. The drips occurred during the rain and continued after the precipitation changed to snow and started accumulating on the deck. Eventually it got cold enough that the dripping stopped altogether and the drip marks started filling with snow. The snow started in wet form and gradually changed to powdery pellets. The tracks are extremely fresh, probably less than 20 minutes old, because they are so crisp and have not started melting yet in the warming air.

3. The tracks were made after the rain & snow, as no snow lies in the tracks with the exception of a few pellets that got kicked and dragged as the cat walked.

4. The gait is a diagonal walk, but there is more to it than that. At the start of the trail, the cat was in an understep walk – its hind feet landed behind the tracks from the front feet. (The front tracks are identifiable as being larger than the hind tracks, due to supporting more weight (the head), and also due to the weight being distributed further back in the palm, as opposed to the rear feet which have most weight concentrated in the toes). But as the tracks progress, the hind feet start landing closer to the front tracks, and in the last track, the hind feet are landing in front of the front tracks (overstep walk). For some reason, the stride did not increase here, but nevertheless the cat was speeding up.

5. This is a smaller than average cat. Seven inches is a very small stride for a cat.

6. This is a female cat. This is a trick question, because the typical technique that would be used for this would suggest it was a male – the hind tracks generally lie inside the front tracks. Just goes to show you can’t always rely on that technique – harumph!

This was a great way to start the day. I was delighted to see that I had a visitor. The delicate layer of snow was just the right depth, and the rain-moistened wooden planks on the deck were just the right combination to cause each track to almost completely melt as it was being made, leaving crisp, dark footprints amidst the graceful white pellets. The tracks were pristine and nearly perfect. I was so excited to see the tracks that I jumped out into the snow in bare feet to snap the photos. My feet got cold, but it was a small price to pay, as I was thankful for the experience!



Quiz #28 - Question      ...on to Quiz #29

The material on this page is copyright © by the original author/artist/photographer. This website is created, maintained & copyright © by Walter Muma
Please respect this copyright and ask permission before using or saving any of the content of this page for any purpose

Thank you for visiting!