Big Teeth, Big Paws: Can You Identify the Mystery Tracks?

Big Teeth, Big Paws: Can You Identify the Mystery Tracks?
Hudson Valley Post

There’s something very exciting (and possibly terrifying) about finding mystery tracks in the snow. Do you know which Hudson Valley native left these 6-inch prints (and drag marks) in the fresh New York snow?

There’s no shortage of animals big and small in our area. From fishers and martens to bear and coyote, we share our land with some fascinating creatures. None of them, however, were the ones who left the mystery tracks recently posted by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NY DEC).

NY DEC via Facebook
NY DEC via Facebook

Hint #1

Before the cat’s out of the bag (no, they’re not cat prints, either), let’s start with some hints. First, this animal can get up to three feet long and can weigh as much as 60 pounds…

Hint #2

These furry creatures also have some very special features, like doubled eyelids, “closeable” ears, and large teeth. They also happen to be the official mammal of New York state…

NY DEC via Facebook
NY DEC via Facebook

Mystery Tracks Revealed

If you’re still scratching your head, maybe the fact that they have big ol’ tails and hardly leave the water might put it over the edge. The tracks you’re looking at are from a New York beaver. Here’s the easiest ways to identify the prints.

kwiktor via Canva

Beaver Prints in New York

“The hind prints are especially distinctive, measuring around 6 inches long and displaying the webbing between the five toes, which help make beaver such capable swimmers”, says the DEC. “The front prints… are shaped like a human hand print. You may also notice drag marks over the top of the prints, which are made by the beaver’s tail as it moves through the snow”.

Identifying Animal Tracks in New York State

If you have tracks you’d like help with identifying, this guide is very helpful. You can also submit photos to the DEC at Photographs with another object (like a shoe or cell phone) for scale can make identification easier. Check out some adorable baby beavers below, and keep scrolling to check out a local Hudson Valley beaver family in Orange County, NY.

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