Monday, April 14, 2014

Mink Tracks at Mission Creek

My last post was about a trip to Mission Creek Woodland Park and my first wildflower (and butterfly, and reptile) sighting of 2014.  I like going to Mission Creek because it seems that while I may go to seek out one thing in particular, I never know what I am going to find.

Besides Skunk Cabbage flowers, Mourning Cloak butterflies, and Common Garter Snakes, I also found a large number of footprints in the mud along Mission Creek.  Almost all of the footprints belonged to Northern Raccoons, but in one location some of the tracks were much smaller.

Instead of a Raccoon, those tracks belonged to an American Mink.

A small (probably female) mink  photographed along the Chippewa River in 2005

Mink tracks can can be identified by their pointed heal and five toes that fan out into a teardrop shape.  This can be easily seen in the track to the left of the photograph below

Mink tracks - note the five toes and teardrop shape
Mink tracks are not large - most are under an inch and a half long and an inch and a half wide.  There are two clear mink tracks (and two obscured footprints) in the photo below - mink often place their hind feet in the tracks made by their front feet, blurring the front tracks.  Also shown in the lower half of the picture below are several tracks from a Northern Raccoon.  The Swiss Army knife is 3.5 inches long and is shown for scale.

Mink (top) and Raccoon (bottom) tracks - Swiss Army knife is 3.5 inches long

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