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Mink Exploring Streams

1-16-18 mink tracks IMG_2664

The pattern of diagonally-paired tracks indicates that it’s likely that a member of the weasel family has been travelling on top of this mostly-frozen stream.  The presence of water makes it likely that a Mink made them. For the most part, Mink are restricted to forest cover and ponds, streams and rivers. When bounding, their hind feet register almost exactly where their front feet were, creating this double-print pattern.

Many members of the weasel family, including Long-Weasels, Ermine (Short-tailed Weasels), and Fishers, also make these paired tracks, especially in deep snow. Size is one way to discriminate between them, with the size of Mink tracks (1 ½”-long) falling in between 3″- long Fisher tracks and 1”- long weasel tracks.

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8 responses

  1. teachdad46

    A question: are these pairs of left/right tracks made by alternating front/back feet? So we’re seeing eight front foot pairs and eight back foot pairs?

    January 17, 2018 at 10:36 am

    • Not sure I understand your question. What you see are 16 paired tracks. Each of those pairs is where front and then hind feet landed. The hind feet land almost exactly where the front feet were, so four feet register in two side by side spots. A front foot and then a hind foot lands in each of the paired tracks. Hope this helps!

      January 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

      • Kathie Fiveash

        Is that called perfect stepping?

        January 17, 2018 at 11:41 am

  2. Kathie Fiveash

    On Isle au Haut they hunt in tide pools!

    January 17, 2018 at 11:21 am

  3. Peter Hollinger

    Besides liking water, mink sometimes slide like otters (eg, my avatar).

    January 17, 2018 at 11:35 am

  4. Kathie, I don’t know why it couldn’t be called “perfect stepping.” I usually think of it as “direct registering.”

    January 17, 2018 at 12:14 pm

    • Kathie Fiveash

      I looked it up – usually perfect stepping and direct registering refer to the walking gait of animals such as foxes, coyotes and wild cats, and sometimes dogs and domestic cats, putting the rear foot right into the front foot track, making walking more efficient in the snow. I guess that since weasels and their kin don’t really seem to walk much, but instead bound, we could use the same terminology for their foot placement.

      January 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm

  5. Dick Bennett

    I’ve seen/witnessed this the wild in nh … Fantastic! A wonderful shoeing study!,

    Sent from my iPad


    January 18, 2018 at 8:31 am

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