Snow Tales

Snow Tales

During the winter months it’s easy to spot the signs of animals big and small. Once there’s snow on the ground, it’s fun to play winter wildlife detective and examine tracks and the stories they leave behind. Who made them? What were they doing?

Not all animals go into winter hibernation. Many are up and moving, and their tracks give us a glimpse into the wonderful world of wildlife.

Time to sharpen up your identification skills! Let’s explore some tracks you might find in the Credit River Watershed:


These unusual tracks will likely leave a passerby stumped! The shape of the track provides a lot of information about the animal who left it. Porcupines are pigeon-toed. This causes them to wobble and waddle creating this unique imprint in the snow.


Four toe prints and a heal pad indicate a canine or feline. If you see toenail marks, you’ll know it’s a canine.

Dog tracks are common along trails and in parks. How do you know if it is a domestic dog or a coyote? The path of the track is the easiest way to distinguish the two. Coyotes are efficient and move in straight lines whereas domestic dogs tend to travel erratically.

Field Vole

Some small rodents, like voles, spend a lot of time under the snow. They leave evidence of their visit with long winding tunnels that are visible from above. If you follow a trail and it abruptly ends at a large messy hole edged with markings from wing tips, there is a good chance a hawk or owl found a snack.


The number of toes helps us tell species apart. Turkey tracks are large with three large toes in the front and a shorter back toe. The track averages four to five inches long. It’s rare to find solo turkey tracks as they usually travel in flocks.


If all four footprints are bunched together with the larger ones out front, you probably have a squirrel.

Cottontail Rabbit

When rabbits hop, they leave certain markings based on where their feet land – which helps us identify tracks. They place their larger hind feet ahead of their smaller front feet. Unlike squirrels, which keep their feet next to each other as they hop, rabbits stagger their feet creating a “Y” shaped track.

Next time you’re out and about, keep your eyes peeled for interesting tracks and the tales they leave in the snow.

Have cool photos of tracks? Practice your identification skills and share them with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

By CVC’s Meagan Ruffini, Marketing and Communications Associate

2 Comment

Leave a Comment

Data and information released from Credit Valley Conservation (CVC) are provided on an 'AS IS' basis, without warranty of any kind, including without limitation the warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose and non-infringement.

Availability of this data and information does not constitute scientific publication. Data and/or information may contain errors or be incomplete. CVC and its employees make no representation or warranty, express or implied, including without limitation any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose or warranties as to the identity or ownership of data or information, the quality, accuracy or completeness of data or information, or that the use of such data or information will not infringe any patent, intellectual property or proprietary rights of any party. CVC shall not be liable for any claim for any loss, harm, illness or other damage or injury arising from access to or use of data or information, including without limitation any direct, indirect, incidental, exemplary, special or consequential damages, even if advised of the possibility of such damages.

In accordance with scientific standards, appropriate acknowledgment of CVC should be made in any publications or other disclosures concerning data or information made available by CVC.