Raccoon Tracks and Sign
An Online Field Guide
Raccoon tracks can be found throughout the United States in almost all habitat types. They are a member of the Procyonidae family, which also includes the ringtail and coati. Raccoons are omnivorous, eating a wide range of foods from crayfish and frogs, to berries and eggs.
Tracks: Raccoon tracks are hand-shaped with a diameter that measures 2 to 3 inches across. They register five finger-like toes in both front and hind feet and also often register small claws. Their tracks are asymmetrical. The innermost toe is smallest and further towards the rear of the foot than the other toes, which allows left and right tracks to be differentiated. Their foot pad is roughly C-shaped. Front tracks have longer toes that are more spread apart. Hind feet often register a larger palm and heel pad. The photo to the right is a left front track. The photo below shows a left front track next to a right hind track.
Gaits: Raccoons have a unique walking gait that they utilize when traveling and foraging. This unique walking gait results in a trail pattern where front and hind tracks from opposite sides of the body register next to each other, as in the photo below. Step lengths in this gait vary from 10 to 18 inches. Raccoons will also utilize lopes and gallops when avoiding danger.
Scat: Because raccoons are ommivorous, their scat can be quite variable in color, consistency, and shape. It is often found at the base of trees which they climb and use for resting. When consuming drier foods, raccoon scat is tubular with blocky ends and a diameter of approximately 3/8 of an inch. Caution should be exercised around raccoon scat, as it can contain parasitic roundworms which, if inhaled, can cause serious harm to humans.
Similar Tracks: River otter and opossum tracks can be mistaken for raccoon footprints. River otter tracks have rounder toes and often show webbing between the toes. Also, river otters primarily lope rather than walk. Opossums have a very large thumb-like toe on the hind foot which helps identify them from other similar tracks.
References: Elbroch 2003, Halfpenny 1999, Murie 1954, Rezendes 1999.
Knight, Jason R. 2008. Raccoon Tracks and Sign. Alderleaf Wilderness College. www.wildernesscollege.com/raccoon-tracks.html
Raccoon in western Washington rainforest.
To learn more about animal tracks, check out the
Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship
Additional Resources on Raccoons:
Here's an interesting website dedicated entirely to facts about raccoons: http://fohn.net/raccoon-pictures-facts/.
This web page also provides a lot of information about raccoons: http://www.fcps.edu/islandcreekes/ecology/raccoon.htm.
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