Smaller, 4 front and 5 back

under 1 inch in every dimension, with 4 toes in the front and 5 toes in the back

(click on photos to see a larger version)

House Mouse

house mouse tracks in snow

house mouse tracks in snow

House Mouse

  • size: under 1/2 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

House mice have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don't always show up in their tracks. Their footprints are generally smaller than 1/2 in.

When you see their tracks, you will generally see one hind foot (5 toes) and one back foot (4 toes) grouped together, and find the other pair about 1/2 an inch in front and behind. The hind foot will usually be in front of the front foot.

The tracks of house mice might easily be confused with the tracks of white-footed mice, because they are so similar.

House mice like to feed off of food that humans leave behind, so they are commonly found in houses, barns, and near trash heaps. Generally you will find them anywhere that you find humans.

White-Footed Mouse

White-Footed Mouse

  • size: under 1 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

White-footed mice have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don't always show up on their tracks. Their front and back feet are roughly 1/2 inch wide and long. Their back feet (5 toed) will usually be placed in front of their front feet (4 toed).

The tracks of white-footed mice can easily be confused with those of house mice because they are so similar. If the tracks were left by a white-footed mouse, you are much more likely to see a tail trail along with the prints.

White-footed mouse tracks in snow

White-footed mouse tracks in snow

White-footed mouse foot print

White-footed mouse foot print

white-footed mouse tracks, with arrow showing direction of travel

white-footed mouse tracks, with arrow showing direction of travel

Meadow Vole

Meadow Vole

  • size: under 1 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

Meadow voles have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don't always show up on their tracks. Their front feet are roughly .15 to .25 inch wide and long. Their back feet are about .25 inches wide and long.

Meadow voles walk in a pattern that groups their right feet together and their left feet together. So, when you see their tracks, you will see several groups. Each group has a single front foot (4 toes) and a back foot (5 toes).

Meadow voles are very common but are mainly found in grassy areas. You might see their runways and holes more often than their tracks.

Eastern Chipmunk

Eastern Chipmunk

  • size: under 1 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

Eastern chipmunks have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don't always show up on their tracks. Their front feet are roughly 1/2 inch wide and long, but can be a bit larger. Their back feet will usually be just a little bit longer (at least .7 inches).

Chipmunks have great variety in their diet, so they can be found in many places.

Eastern Chipmunk tracks
Eastern Chipmunk tracks
chipmunk tracks in sand, with half dollar as size reference

Eastern Chipmunk tracks in sand, with half dollar as size reference

Red squirrels

Red squirrel tracks

Red squirrels

  • size: under 1 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

Red squirrels have have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don’t always show up on their tracks. Their front feet are about .5 inches wide, and usually a little bit longer (up to 1 inch). Their back feet are .5-1 inch long and wide. When they walk they tend to keep their front feet (smaller and 4 toed) together and their back feet (larger and 5 toed) together.

These squirrels are found all over the place as long as there are trees nearby. A good way to figure out if squirrels have passed by is to look for cracked open walnut shells.

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

  • size: under 1 inch
  • 4 front toes
  • 5 back toes
  • claws don't always show

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels have 4 front and 5 back toes. They have claws, but the claws don't always show. Their front feet are about .5 inches wide and .6 inches long. Their back feet are a bit larger than their front feet: about .75 inches wide and between .8-1 inches long. When they walk, they tend to cross their hind feet in front of their back feet. So, when you see their tracks you will find several clusters in which their hind feet (5 toes) are in front of their back feet (4 toes).

Their tracks will look much like other squirrel tracks, just a different size. They will be smaller than a grey squirrel and larger than a chipmunk.

 
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BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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