Fresh snow is the best time to find your inner sleuth and go tracking outside. Many animals are nocturnal and conduct their business under the protection of dense cover. But thanks to freshly fallen snow, we can garner clues as to how they live.
Now is the perfect time to bundle up, strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore the many animals that call FortWhyte home.
The best way to get started with tracking in the snow is to first learn the most common species you’re likely to encounter. Here are four that we see here at FortWhyte every day:
FortWhyte Alive has 8-12 resident deer that you’ll often see in the woods. Their prints are two crescent-shaped halves with two dewclaws, resulting in a heart-shaped track. The pointy end shows the direction they’re going.
Deer tracks are 3-9 cm long by 3.5-7 cm wide.
Cottontail rabbits are harder to spot, but their tracks aren’t! They have fuzzy feet for warmth so you won’t see any toe or pad marks. You’ll see two small prints, one in front of the other, then two larger prints side by side.
The tracks are under 4 cm wide.
Red squirrels have fuzzy rear feet, covering their palm pads, which is one way to tell them apart from Grey squirrel prints. You won’t see the pads in their tracks. They’ll have two smaller tracks, close together with two larger prints further apart.
The track width for a red squirrel is about 10 cm.
Mink tracks are more likely to be found close to the lakes and can be tricky to find. They have hairy feet so you might not see the back of their paws in their prints, just each foot's five toes.
Their front feet are about 4 cm by 3.8 cm and their rear are 3.8 cm by 3.6 cm.
Print your own copy of our Animal Tracks Guide and hit the trail.
Saturday, February 1, 1 pm - 3 pm
Saturday, March 28, 1 pm - 3 pm
Head outside and explore the trails with a track reference guide to discover as many different tracks as you can. Challenge your family and friends to see who can find them all!