Raccoon and Opossum tracks

February 13th, 2011 • Categories: Mammals, Tracks, winter events6 Comments

In mid-February many local mammals begin courtship and breeding activities-an early sign of the season to come. Their increased activity is seen in the number of tracks in the snow. Two animals that will soon be out and active are Raccoons and Opossums. These two entirely unrelated animals move in a similar way – they both pace. The resulting tracks are in pairs consisting of one front footprint beside a back one. Thus there will be a left front by a right back, then a left back by a right front…

The OpossumĀ is a marsupial — the only marsupial in North America. Opossum babies are born very early in their development, make their way into their mother’s pouch, and continue their development there. Opossums have opposable thumbs on their hind feet (allowing them to grasp and hold onto branches). This is evident in their tracks. Look for a large “thumb” pointing at right angles to the other four toes. The star-like front track ends up in the “v” made by the thumb sticking out from the back foot.

Raccoons are also the only member of their family found around here. (Others are the ringtails and coatis out west). Raccoons have agile hands that they use to pick up and manipulate things. Their tracks, with five long fingers on the front feet and five toes on the back are very distinctive and look rather human.

6 Comments on “Raccoon and Opossum tracks”

  1. Thank you for sharing your website with us! We have enjoyed reading about the area animals.

    Kathi Thoreson4/4/2011

  2. Thanks for the photos! You helped me solve the mystery of who has been walking around our snowy neighborhood at night. The tracks match your opossum tracks spot on.

    Emily Werner2/28/2013

  3. Thanks!! You helped solve the mystery on who was walking around our school campus this week! We have a class dedicated to learning about animal tracks and stuff, so our encounter with the Opossum tracks where PERFECT!!! And we had a hard time figuring out if it was a raccoon track or a Opossum track, and after looking at this, it was obvious! So once again,

    Gracie Noller12/3/2013

  4. Help ! A wild animal has been defacating in my yard—-looks like large hills of black beans—possum or raccoon ? I have seen both—I live in the middle of a busy city.

    Doris Braman9/22/2015

  5. I have an animal in my attic that very neatly bent back the heavy wire vent screen and made a hole after ripping off three of the aluminum vent slats to gain entry. It both skitters and runs around like a squirrel, but it also lumbers heavily as it walks around above my head. It sounds like it has started picking at the wood ceiling above my head. No utterances. Is it a squirrel or a possum. I read your great article but still cannot figure out which one it is.

    Gail Parmentier2/10/2016

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