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Fox & Coyote Tracks

1-29-14 red fox and coyote tracks IMG_2095In general, the larger the animal, the larger its feet and the tracks that they leave. Red foxes weigh between 7 and 14 pounds. Coyotes weigh between 20 and 50 pounds. The size of their tracks reflects this difference in weight. In addition, note that the coyote’s toe and metatarsal pads are quite distinct, whereas the furry-footed fox’s are not. (Red Fox tracks on left headed down; Coyote tracks on right headed up.)

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10 responses

  1. Mimi

    Why do some photos of animal tracks in snow appear to be on top of the snow rather than in the snow? I’ve noticed this in some tracking books. I haven’t found this when I’ve been out tracking.

    January 29, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    • Mimi – that is just your brain playing trick with your eyes and creating an optical illusion, sometimes called the top-down knowledge effect. Check out this youtube link for a brief explanation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJIQTf5UpRU

      January 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      • Thanks, Vermont ED. I didn’t know the answer, just thought it was the light conditions.

        January 29, 2014 at 9:27 pm

  2. tom nevins

    are not fox tracks also very catlike and in a single row, not offset like a coyoyes

    January 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    • Yes, they are, Tom, but coyote tracks can be mighty straight, as well.

      January 29, 2014 at 9:41 pm

  3. Great pics and explanation. It even appears that both animals were travelling in the classic canine “side trot”!

    January 29, 2014 at 4:52 pm

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    I learned an interesting thing about dog/fox/coyote tracks from Meade Cadot (Hi Meade!) while I was at Antioch. A good way to tell domestic dog tracks from wild canid tracks is that fox and coyote tracks tend to be very direct, the animal going straight towards wherever it is going. Dog tracks tend to meander as the dog is distracted by scents, etc. Dog tracks do not have the same clarity of purpose we see in wild canid tracks

    January 29, 2014 at 7:31 pm

  5. Exactly, Kathie. I have heard that the reason for the directness/indirectness of the domestic dog vs. wild canids is that the domestic dog knows it’s getting dinner that day, so it can afford to meander here and there, taking its sweet time, unlike the find-food-or-starve fox or coyote!

    January 29, 2014 at 9:38 pm

  6. I often wish I had you beside me as I walk about every day! I see tracks and can never remember exactly what you wrote and I confuse myself! Mouse, vole or shrew? I really need to get a pocket guide! 🙂

    January 30, 2014 at 2:07 am

    • I have that exact same experience all the time, Eliza!

      January 30, 2014 at 12:39 pm

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