Smaller, 4 front and 4 back

over 1 inch in some dimension, with 4 toes in the front and 4 toes in the back

(click on photos to see a larger version)

Coyote

Coyote

  • size: over 2 inches
  • 4 front toes
  • 4 back toes
  • claws

You can usually see claws in coyote tracks, especially the ones on the center toes. Their front tracks are 2.25 inches wide, and 2.5 inches long. Their back tracks are usually the same, but might be slightly smaller. Their foot pad will probably look something like a nose because of its somewhat triangular shape, but it is also possible that the edges will not be too clear and only a circular shape will be visible.

Because of the way coyotes walk, you will often find that their left hind paws are placed close in front of their left front paws and the same on the right side. But coyotes can show many different track patterns depending on how fast they were moving.

coyote tracks in snow

Red Fox

Red Fox

  • size: over 1.5 inches
  • 4 front toes
  • 4 back toes
  • claws

Red fox tracks usually show claws, especially the ones on the center toes. Their front tracks are 1.5 inches wide and 1.8 inches long. Their back tracks are roughly the same.

Red foxes often walk in a straight line, placing each foot directly in front of the other. Though this is a common way to find their tracks, their walking patterns can vary a great deal depending on how fast they were moving at the time.

photo of red fox and white-footed mouse tracks in snow

red fox and white-footed mouse tracks in snow

gray fox tracks in sand

Dog

photo of dog track in sand

single dog track in sand

Dog

  • size: over 2 inches
  • 4 front toes
  • 4 back toes
  • claws

Dog tracks look a lot like coyote tracks, except they are often bigger. You can usually see the claws, and the foot pad in the back is triangular.

Dog tracks tend to go in big, loopy, random paths, while coyotes and foxes take direct paths. So if you see a loopy path, you can guess it was a dog and not a coyote or a fox!

House Cat

photo of house cat tracks in snow

cat tracks in snow

House Cat

  • size: about 2 inches
  • 4 front toes
  • 4 back toes
  • claws don't show

Cats have four toes on the front and rear feet. They keep their claws sharp by not walking on them. Since they don't want on their claws, you will not see claw marks in a cat print. Cat tracks will be about 2 inches long, and they are usually wider than they are long. The main pad of their paw is not triangular shaped (in contrast to dogs). On a good cat track you will see that the rear edge of the main pad has three "lobes", or rounded parts.

Cats will make different patterns of tracks, depending on how fast they are moving. They often run by bounding, and then you will see sets of four paws separated by the distance they jumped.

 
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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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