Thursday, March 7, 2013

Can You Identify These Animal Tracks?

Because I have been having a problem with some unidentified animal chomping on my treasured Hellebores (see Devastation in the Garden) I need some help figuring out which critter it might be. We just had some snow...and when I took pictures this morning, I discovered some tracks that I'm not familiar with. I don't think they are squirrel tracks...because they are not all over the yard. There are lots of other tracks all over the yard, which are probably squirrels...because I DO have LOTS of squirrels here. But these tracks are only in a few areas and they stand out. What could they be? Raccoons? Rats? I've been doing some google-searches but still could use some help. I am thinking about taking down the birdfeeders. I'm thinking whatever it is that is coming in here at night and destroying my Hellebores is a) nocturnal and b) interested in the seeds. Here are the photos:










I also covered my Hellebores with some metal hanging plant baskets, and surrounded a couple with some small trellises that I have stored in the garage. Here are some photos of what they look like until I can figure out what else to do about this problem:












As you can see, there are tracks all over the entire backyard. Some are mine, some are from the dogs (who only go outside to go potty several times a day so they are not the culprits because I am always with them), some are from squirrels. The mystery tracks are what I would like to resolve. Can you help me?


Words and photos ©Thanks for today.™, by Jan Huston Doble @ http://www.thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/
Not to be reproduced or re-blogged without express permission of the author.

33 comments:

  1. My first thought is raccoons. I'm more used to tracks around my chicken coop, though, not my hellebores!

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    1. Thanks Linda! I know...who automatically associates Hellebores with raccoons?!?!

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  2. I'm almost certain those are raccoon tracks. There are a couple there that look like tiny hands, that is indicative. You mentioned that you had a fence, take a look at it to see if there are any muddy tracks on it from climbing. My fence is covered in all the spots where they climb in and out of my garden.

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    1. Thanks Alison. After your, and others, comments on facebook, I do believe it is raccoons. I went out and looked all over the fence... on both sides of it...but do not see tracks on it, although there are a lot of rub marks (probably from deer) and lots of chewing and gouging going on. Not sure what animal has been doing that. Maybe I should put in an electric fence next?!? Oh boy, managing this is just one more pain in the butt that we gardeners have to deal with. And I do know you've had to deal with those nuisances in your own yard. So now we can commiserate together... :(

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  3. Looks like racoon to me too, but this may help , stops my deer:
    http://tammyinwv.blogspot.com/search/label/Milorganite

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    Replies
    1. I saw that in one of your last comments about the deer. But I don't know whether it would work for raccoons, are there studies where it's worked for other than deer. Would be interested to know...

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  4. Jan i havent looked for any research on anything other than deer. They have been my only problem. I immediately thought of them when you mentioned rub marks to Alison above.Check out this link: http://www.ontariowildflower.com/wildlife_tracks.htm
    They kinda look like the raccoon tracks. I did a quick search and didnt really find much info on Mil. and raccoons. The post below says they used it for raccoons with success, also they mention contacting animal control who will let you borrow a trap to relocate.
    http://www.lawnsite.com/archive/index.php/t-222813.html
    tammy

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  5. Looks like raccoon to me.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your feedback, Jason! I'm beginning to think it might be raccoons :) LOL

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  6. As soon as I saw them they said raccoon...those devils.

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    Replies
    1. Donna, they are little devils!

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  7. My vote is for raccoons as well! Wittle wascals!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jayne. They are wascals...for sure!

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  8. I'm actually going to differ. A couple of your photos (like the 2nd one down, bottom left side of the image) show a more "thumb-like" appendage in the footprint that is much more characteristic of the Virginia opossum. Their tracks can look a little different, depending on how fast they're walking, but that lower set digit really makes me suspicious. The silhouette footprint on this page will give you an idea what I'm talking about: http://icwdm.org/handbook/mammals/opossums.asp If you hold your hand out in front of you, with your thumb and index finger making more of an l-shape, that's sort of how their feet look. It's difficult to say for certain, with the snow melting around the tracks, but that's my best guess :)

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    Replies
    1. It certainly could be a opossum as well, Claire...I haven't totally ruled that out! We have had opossums here before...both on our front steps and on our back deck...so it isn't out of the question and I can't deny the possibility that they are responsible for my hellebore damage. I just don't know. However, no matter WHAT it is...I've decided to remove the bird feeders at night and see if that helps things. I still put them out in the day time...the squirrels get the remnants on the ground. No matter what critter it is...if the feeders are not here at night, hopefully that will help them stay away. Thanks for your observations!!

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  9. Jan,
    Raccoon, opossum, and skunk all eat the same things and have somewhat similar footprints. Based on the appearance of a "thumb?", that would rule out skunk I think. Isn't wildlife wonderful :-) well...most of the time.
    Ray

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    Replies
    1. I do enjoy wildlife, Ray...mostly from a distance :) I'm not crazy about them messing up/destroying my treasured plants, that's all. It's tough to share real estate with them ;)

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  10. Looks like a unanimous vote for raccoon. Love the bowl shaped hanging basket over the Hellebores in the first photo of protection.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janet...I'm going with raccoon, too. I've been taking the birdfeeders down at night and so far don't think it has returned; if it has, it hasn't done any further damage, at least!

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  11. Yes, I agree, they look like raccoon tracks. It was raccoons that Michael Pollan described in "Second Nature" as "looking like the work of the Manson Family." Not a welcome visitor to the garden. -Jean

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    Replies
    1. Jean, I love how you shared Michael Pollan's portrayal of the crime scene! Sounds about right ;) At this point in time, I think the critter has retreated but it's hard to be sure. I still have the hellebores covered and take the bird feeders down at night. Will be an interesting spring...!

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  12. Daniel Boone I'm not but it is an interesting mystery. Though I live in a woods my onehundred pound GSD chases away another smaller than a bear....:)

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    1. With 2 mini-dachshunds and a poodle, all critters would eat MY dogs so they are of NO help to me around here! I just have to continue to share my yard with wildlife, and hope they will respect and admire it, rather than destroy and trash it. Probably isn't gonna happen, though :)

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  13. I wish I knew, Jan. They look exactly like the squirrel tracks I see in the snow, but I am sure they could be skunk or possum or raccoon, too. I hope you figure out what it is. :)

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  14. I sure hope you get this figured out, but I do love your creative covers. Wire plant pots are fairly decorative!

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  15. I agree with Sage. They look like raccoon tracks to me. Just when we find a plant the deer don't like someone else comes along and eats it instead!

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  16. The photos of the plants that little critter chomped on made me gasp! It can be so frustrating living and gardening in the country.

    I just took some photos of beautiful doe out front and I hate to think of the damage they will create this spring.

    Love your blog Jan! Happy Spring!

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  17. I see most people think the tracks are from raccoons, which was my first guess, but I also wondered if it could be from an opossum. We've had both in our yard. In fact, when I was taking a break from garden clean up on the one nice day we had recently, sitting on the bench in the front yard, I saw a raccoon walking across the street, into a neighbor's back yard.

    I like your use of the hanging baskets and such. Yours are prettier than the ones I use to protect some of my plants from the rabbits.

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  18. The tracks seems to be from the raccoons. And they have certainly ruined your precious plants.

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  19. Looks like raccoons to me, too! I have no idea why they're going after your hellebores! After dinner toothbrush? Not funny, I know, but this is quite the mystery!

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  20. Trackergirl5/27/13, 3:13 PM

    Well, every single track is a squirrel. There are no racoon tracks there or possum. If you look closely, squirrels have four toes in front and five in back. They move in a gallop hopping type pattern. The front feet are like little hands but unlike the raccoon which has five fingers and toes, the pictures show only four over and over again. The back feet are bigger on squirrels and yes, do have five toes. But the key is those five toes have a very distinct pattern. The middle toes are all in a line. That is characteristics of all rodents. With raccoon, they are spread out, like your hand. They don't ever line up like that. They are more star-like. So it was the squirrels all along. So you know. :-)

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Thanks so much for visiting and taking the time to comment! Please enjoy your TODAY and all of the gifts in YOUR garden of life!

Jan

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