mary jones's picture

Mink or polecat tracks?

Observed: 10th January 2010 By: mary jones
DSC 3429
DSC 3431
Description:

Tracks in the snow between a barn and a stream. There were at least three sets, possibly made on three consecutive days or nights by the same animal. Can anyone identify them?

Identifications
  •  
    Likely ID
    Mink or ferret
    Confidence: It's likely to be this, but I can't be certain.
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Comments

the naturalist man's picture

Mustelid trail

Thanks for these photos. Based on your description and the left hand photo with a stride of over 80cm I would have been tempted to say you had an otter. However, your clear photo on the right dispells that identification, unfortunately, as there is no sign of webbing.

This is definately a mustelid, the pattern of four overlapping prints then long stride indicates that.

From the length of stride we can rule out all but mink and polecat/ferret as you have done. Unfortunately, it is impossible to tell the two apart in snow. I would err towards polecat/ferret simply because they are larger animals than mink and at 80cm the stride is at the limit for both animals. It could be a captive bred ferret as they tend to be larger than wild polecats, but that is a guess.

If the prints are still there then you could follow them towards the stream and if it appears the animal climbed out of the stream it is most likely a mink as polecat/ferrets do not readily swim, though they can.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

mary jones's picture

Thanks for that, Graham! The

Thanks for that, Graham! The tracks don't appear to connect directly with the stream - though it is, in any case, a shallow one so could easily be paddled in rather than swum. A fresh set of prints appeared last night, so it would seem to be a nocturnal animal with a regular route. The distance between them is considerably less this time, so the animal would appear to have been travelling more slowly, perhaps. It would be exciting to have a polecat... We will keep a careful watch.

the naturalist man's picture

Tracks

Interesting that the tracks are closer. If there is less snow perhaps it can now walk rather than having to leap along. I think the only way you will solve this one would be if you were lucky enough to see the animal itself, though by the sounds of it that would mean sitting up all night!

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'
http://www.ispot.org.uk/forum/8411

mary jones's picture

Mmm. I had thought of that,

Mmm. I had thought of that, but it is a bit cold for doing that at the moment! I will, though, keep my eyes peeled and you never know, we might just get lucky. Whatever it is, it is something new for us here, and that is always very exciting. Thanks so much for your help with this - it is fantastic to be able to get feedback from someone who is able to give this kind of information.