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Mystery Photo

4-17-19 mystery photo_U1A6864Whose tracks are these? This is a loaded question, as these particular tracks are not something you come across every day in the snow. Hints: You would not find these tracks in the dead of winter. The width of the pictured trail is roughly 12” – 16”. It ends in a shallow, open wetland. The photograph was taken two days ago.

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42 responses

  1. Elizabeth Hall

    Snapping turtle?

    April 15, 2019 at 7:41 am

  2. Beavers finally released from the ice!

    April 15, 2019 at 7:43 am

  3. Marilyn

    Porcupine. Out of natural habitat. Very wild guess.

    April 15, 2019 at 7:43 am

    • Robyn Deveney

      They do look like porky tracks ,but “these particular tracks are not something you come across every day in the snow” puts the kibosh on that theory…

      April 15, 2019 at 10:18 am

  4. Kit Pfeiffer

    Dear Mary, Your post today prompted me to send you these two shots I took at the scene of a kill in our woods in Whitefield, Maine. As best I can tell, the feathers on the ground are Barred Owl. The downy feathers hanging from the branches indicated where the predator perched to eat its prey. There were no bones or blood anywhere, just the feathers. I think it was a Great-Horned Owl that devoured the Barred Owl. Feel free to use these pictures for another mystery post.

    Thanks so much for Naturally Curious!

    Kit Pfeiffer 85 Benner Lane Whitefield, ME 04353 207-446-9768

    When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. John Muir


    April 15, 2019 at 7:55 am

    • Kit, WordPress doesn’t allow anyone to submit photos, unfortunately. Could you send them to me at I would love to see them! Many thanks.

      April 15, 2019 at 8:12 am

  5. Kathie Fiveash

    Could it be an early snapping turtle?

    April 15, 2019 at 7:56 am

  6. Bill on the hill

    Gall darn it, somebody beat me to it! Snapping turtle!!!

    This is better than Jeopardy… :~)

    April 15, 2019 at 7:56 am

  7. Marie


    April 15, 2019 at 7:56 am

  8. Reuben

    I’m guessing a beaver or muskrat. It looks like there is a tail drag in the snow.

    April 15, 2019 at 8:08 am

  9. Clyde

    Could it possibly ne a muskrat?

    April 15, 2019 at 8:12 am

  10. Thank you Mary for all you do for the earth and for us humans too!
    Could these be snapping turtle tracks?! I think I see the edge of a shell and some drag marks that don’t seem to look like any other critter. It is not too early for the females to be moving about to lay some eggs. But, moving across the snow?! A wonderful mystery photo for sure!!

    April 15, 2019 at 8:24 am

  11. Joellyn Nevins

    Possibly a beaver.

    April 15, 2019 at 8:24 am

  12. Alice Pratt

    Wow, that would certainly be very oddly early for a snapper! It does look like it could be.

    April 15, 2019 at 8:25 am

  13. Evergreen Erb


    April 15, 2019 at 8:32 am

  14. Kathy Schillemat

    Muskrat is my guess too.

    April 15, 2019 at 8:38 am

  15. Sara R-S

    I’m guessing beaver.

    April 15, 2019 at 9:02 am

  16. Noel Kesselheim

    Muskrat or beaver?

    April 15, 2019 at 9:30 am

  17. Suzanne Weinberg

    I really can’t see it for beans — but I’m gonna say bear cubs, judging from a few of the solo prints’ appearances in the foreground. Maybe more than one, so kind of a messy trail. If that’s what it is, what a fun day you had, Mary!

    April 15, 2019 at 9:37 am

  18. Jean Knox

    Beaver is my guess. Thank you, Mary!

    April 15, 2019 at 9:39 am

  19. Anne Marie

    Turtle tracks ?

    April 15, 2019 at 9:58 am

  20. laura luckey


    April 15, 2019 at 10:07 am

  21. My first thought was beaver. The snapping turtle theory is compelling, but I don’t think they would be motivated to get onto land this early in the season. Also, the tracks don’t seem quite uniform enough for a turtle.

    April 15, 2019 at 10:15 am

  22. I say housecat. Never in the dead of winter would you see mine outside, but they are sniffing the air now and acting as if they would like to go out. I’m sure a brave one will walk out where the hunting is good.

    April 15, 2019 at 11:00 am

    • Alice Pratt

      What kind of a moth is that?

      April 16, 2019 at 4:13 pm

      • Moth, Alice???

        April 16, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      • It’s a Great Tiger Moth – Hodges#8166 (Arctia caja). A lifer for me that I’m pretty proud of! Thank you.

        April 16, 2019 at 5:04 pm

  23. Peter Minnich


    April 15, 2019 at 11:43 am

  24. onchiguy

    I am guessing beaver, thinking that I see tail marks.

    Thank you for the teaser

    April 15, 2019 at 12:37 pm

  25. Faith Bieler


    April 15, 2019 at 1:41 pm

  26. dp


    April 15, 2019 at 2:20 pm

  27. Ed Hill

    Current Mystery Pic: beaver?

    April 15, 2019 at 2:33 pm

  28. Faith Gustafson

    i can never figure out trails, but here’s my thinking: too early for a turtle, the site, as I read it didn’t seem deep enough for a muskrat or beaver to want to hang out in. And since the tracks are leading to the wetlands, not out, I am thinking hungry raccoon. But I see tail marks…so maybe the beaver is checking the wetlands out?

    April 15, 2019 at 3:43 pm

  29. Christy Stevens

    Beaver tracks???

    April 15, 2019 at 3:48 pm


    Hi, Mary;

    Might be a bear.

    Peter Luiquer


    April 15, 2019 at 4:12 pm

  31. Rick Schnable

    I say beaver because there seems to be a wide tail drag in the snow. Rick

    April 15, 2019 at 6:13 pm

  32. Stein

    It looks like the snapper’s plastron left some telltale skid marks. And 12-16 inches is pretty wide. Maybe the warm temperatures of a couple of days ago made it think it was high time to be up and about. But I could be wrong….

    April 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm

  33. I’ll guess it is a turtle, a chilly and slow-moving one!

    April 15, 2019 at 8:06 pm

  34. Judy Ross

    Dear Mary, You may remember me and my husband Chris from the grouse sightings in Hartland about 5 years ago. We have since moved up to Ryegate, VT but still follow your blog.

    I am writing because we share a special mutual friend who enjoyed connecting with you through shared photos and a true love of the natural world. Jim Moul from Goshen, NH, died very suddenly this past Friday night and his wife, Mary, has asked that I let you know. Jim loved your blog and all things wild. We know he would want you to know why he wasn’t sharing any more.

    He is truly and sincerely missed, but every time we see nature reveal herself in spring birds, mammals, and especially emerging green things, we think of Jim. He is all around us.

    Best regards, Judy Ross

    Judy Ross 3625 N. Bayley-Hazen Rd. E. Ryegate, VT. 05042



    April 16, 2019 at 7:45 am

  35. Paula Haubrich

    a turtle

    April 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

  36. Caitlin McKinnell

    My guess is beaver, too.

    April 16, 2019 at 8:58 pm

  37. Looks like beaver to me. In several places I think I see the sweep of the tail with it’s tell-tale mid-ridge between the footprints.

    April 17, 2019 at 10:50 am

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