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Author Topic: What animals made these footprints in the snow?  (Read 19496 times)

techmind

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« on: 13/02/2009 20:06:18 »
Any idea what kind of animal left these footprints?

The prints are almost exactly 45cm (18 inches) from print-centre to print-centre along the walk.
The individual prints are approximately 6-7cm (2.5 inches) wide.



The prints do go over the wall in the distance (the wall is about 9 metres away).







The boring answer would be a fox, but to me (not being very familiar with foxes) they seem rather large and well-spaced for this explanation.
This is to the south of Cambridge, UK.
« Last Edit: 14/02/2009 11:22:14 by chris »

LeeE

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #1 on: 13/02/2009 21:19:22 »
They don't look elongated enough to be fox paw prints (see link below), so I'd guess cat of some kind, possibly an ABC (Alien Big Cat - alien refers to being alien to this country, not from a UFO).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/animals/wildbritain/field_guides/animal_tracks.shtml
« Last Edit: 13/02/2009 21:22:33 by LeeE »

Karen W.

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #2 on: 13/02/2009 21:45:20 »
well...we have a mountain Lion and a couple Bob Cats here. Aside from the snow factor ...Those look like our Mountain Lion tracks except ours are usually in the mud.... down Low here where I am...

Have you found any scat?

techmind

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #3 on: 14/02/2009 00:06:59 »
Can anyone definitively rule out foxes, given the size, shape, and spacings of the prints?
From the linked BBC site that Lee pointed out (and others) it appears that a fox would have a more oval foot.

It's not very clear in the photo (nor was it on the ground), but it looked more like it was a 4-toed cat-like print than the fox-like print.

Could it be a large dog? Or do they not walk like that?

There's heresay that there's non-native "big cats" in Cambridgeshire, but is this potential evidence? Or is there a much simpler explanation?


Maybe I should set up a hide in my car and/or set up a camera?

A neighbour says they've seen similar tracks on much the same route in the previous snowfall in recent weeks.



By the way, the area is on the outskirts of the village and fairly rural.
« Last Edit: 14/02/2009 00:26:35 by techmind »

neilep

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #4 on: 14/02/2009 01:27:29 »
baby elephant on stilts !

Karen W.

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #5 on: 14/02/2009 01:42:46 »
Hey when a dog walks its more 4 prints a cat semi crosses its step looking mostly like a single trail of Steps unlike a dog...

Karen W.

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #6 on: 14/02/2009 01:53:36 »
http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/tracking.html#track

Mountain Lion

Lion tracks are very simlar to those of lynx. Pattern is usually alternating (See Track Patterns); sometimes hind feet do not register directly on top of front -foot prints. Prints are as wide as or wider than long (greater than 3.3"). Toes and foot pads often register clearly in the snow (unlike lynx's); and foot pads, which make up nearly 1/2 of the entire print, sometimes show lobes at front and rear of pads. Prints rarely show claws. Trails are mostly straight and direct, and may lead to trees, which lions climb.
   Lion Track




Bobcat

Bobcats walk in an alternating pattern (See Track Patterns), making prints about twice the size of a house cat's (2 to 2.5" long). Tracks could be confused with coyote or fox tracks -- for bobcat, look for lack of claw marks, prints as wide as or wider than long, and lack of foot drag marks. As with lynx, hind legs sink in deep snow to make a "handle" at the back of the print. Bobcat trails meander rather than run directly. See tracking patterns below.
   Bobcat Track

« Last Edit: 14/02/2009 01:58:19 by Karen W. »

Karen W.

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #7 on: 14/02/2009 02:06:25 »
http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/tracking.html#track

TRACK PATTERNS GUIDE

4 PRINT TRACK PATTERN



TWO PRINT TRACK PATTERN



ALTERNATING TRACK PATTERN

« Last Edit: 14/02/2009 02:08:47 by Karen W. »

Karen W.

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Re: What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #8 on: 14/02/2009 02:13:18 »
LOOKING MORE LIKE THE ALTERNATING SO A MOUNTAIN LION OR BOB CAT..USE THAT PATTERN..

LeeE

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #9 on: 14/02/2009 20:25:53 »
Did you measure the distance between alternate prints?  That'll be roughly how long the animal's body is (distance between front and rear legs at the body end, assuming a regular walking gait).

blakestyger

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #10 on: 14/02/2009 21:09:06 »
If you're in the UK and in a built-up area then with prints like that - in line - it's likely to be a ***** cat.
That's the way they walk when they mince along in no particular hurry.

blakestyger

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #11 on: 14/02/2009 21:11:46 »
I didn't put those asterisks in - they just appeared when I typed ***** - the word that can be an anatomical euphemism. :0

techmind

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #12 on: 14/02/2009 22:41:33 »
Did you measure the distance between alternate prints?  That'll be roughly how long the animal's body is (distance between front and rear legs at the body end, assuming a regular walking gait).

The prints were very evenly spaced.
45cm between adjacent prints and 90cm between alternate pairs.



(edited to add annotated photo to avoid all ambiguity)
« Last Edit: 18/02/2009 00:03:49 by techmind »

LeeE

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #13 on: 14/02/2009 23:41:50 »
I'm pretty sure that measuring the alternate prints gives the body length for a quadruped in a regular walking gait when the rear foot steps in to the print made by the front foot; if it didn't I think it would have to mean that it's legs were separating from it's body.  90 cm is a pretty big pus5y (sorry about the weird spelling but the correct spelling seems to be deemed to be obscene - lol) cat though, but fits with the prints being 6-7 cm across.  It would seem that it wasn't just a large domestic cat.

Note: I couldn't find any references relating gait length to body length for cats, only that they step with both left legs and then with both right legs (or visa versa), but it seems to me that if the rear foot is falling in the print left by the front foot and that the distance between successive prints on the same side is constant then the distance between the prints (on the same side) must be the same as the body length.  I'd like to hear if anyone actually knows this for sure though; is anyone in a position to measure the distance between prints from a known cat, so we can find out for sure?  Incidentally, I'm also not sure if the rear paws of a cat always step in to the prints made by the front, or if they only do this when they're walking across something unpleasant, like snow, where it's easier to step in to an existing print rather than make another.

ragwort10

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #14 on: 15/02/2009 23:17:08 »
Hi-hello, just to say that parents had the same footprints in their garden in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. Probably not a cat, because their own cat "Thomas" had visible footprints in the same garden. My guess is a fox, otherwise don't know.

techmind

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #15 on: 18/02/2009 00:13:42 »
Note: I couldn't find any references relating gait length to body length for cats, only that they step with both left legs and then with both right legs (or visa versa), but it seems to me that if the rear foot is falling in the print left by the front foot and that the distance between successive prints on the same side is constant then the distance between the prints (on the same side) must be the same as the body length.

Depending on exactly how the creature moves and its particular shape, and visualising by walking my fingers on a table, I'd have thought the body length could be as much as 1.5x the footprint-pair distance.
(I'm going to get afraid to go out at night  :o

LeeE

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #16 on: 18/02/2009 13:28:43 »
Techmind: Did you do that with four fingers, and with the rear set stepping in to the prints of the forefeet?  Obviously, it would be possible for a quadruped to mince along using tiny steps where, after two or more steps, the rear feet fall in to the prints left by the forefeet, but that would mean that the body length would be much greater than the distance between alternate steps - 90 cm in this case.  Either way, instead of looking for a (probable) alien big cat with a body length of nearly a metre, we'd be looking for one that's even bigger i.e. lion/tiger, but with disproportionately small feet.

techmind

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #17 on: 19/02/2009 00:37:03 »
Techmind: Did you do that with four fingers, and with the rear set stepping in to the prints of the forefeet?
Yes.

LeeE

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What animals made these footprints in the snow?
« Reply #18 on: 19/02/2009 17:11:53 »
Ah yes - doh! - the length of the legs will be relevant, so perhaps it was just a mini-giraffe and not a big cat after all  ;D

 

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