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Raccoons Still Active

1-6-16 raccoon tracks 118With the warm weather we’ve been experiencing, raccoons have remained active, primarily between sunset and midnight. (They tend to hole up, sometimes in groups, during very cold or stormy weather, becoming lethargic and living off of stored body fat.) Until winter weather really arrives, an early morning walk along a stream will often result in the discovery of a raccoon’s flat-footed footprints. When walking in snow that isn’t very deep (see photo) the track pattern of a raccoon is very distinct – with diagonal sets of paired tracks, one hind foot (lower track)and one front (upper track). When the snow is deep, raccoons often “direct register” – place their hind foot almost exactly where their front foot was placed, so that it is no longer a trail of paired tracks, but single tracks, which are more easily confused with other mammals’ tracks.

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4 responses

  1. Chris

    I was very surprised to see a large raccoon under my bird feeder last night around eleven.

    January 12, 2016 at 8:32 am

  2. Thanks for that short, clear tracking lesson, Mary!

    January 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    For all you teachers out there, I developed a great lesson in what I called “perfect stepping,” which Mary says is also called “direct register.” You pair the kids up in the snow, one holding on to the other’s waist from behind. Then the two together pretend to be a four-legged creature, and the one behind steps into the track of the one in front as they move forward. My students loved this activity, and it helped them to understand the gaits of mammals.

    January 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    • Thank you so much, Kathie! Great activity!

      January 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

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