What do Opossum Tracks Look Like
Opossum have been migrating further north and we're starting to see their tracks. Many people are not familiar with the opossum tracks.
When I moved to the Niagara Region in S. Ontario, I discovered I had lots of opossums around. They would come at night and eat the catfood I left out for the 2 remaining feral cats I had moved from my Toronto colony.
Here is a Link to my Opossum page
As it turns out, even though they look like insane giant rats having a bad hair day, they are very peaceful and don't seem to get into much trouble. They are far easier to have around than the raccoons.
They also have the endearing habit of eating ticks.
It took me a while to figure out what the strange new tracks were. At first I figured they were raccoon or skunks but I soon realized that they were opossums.
Coyote and dog tracks however are not particularly difficult to tell apart.
On the left, raccoon tracks, front and back paws, on the right opossum tracks. The opossum tracks also have a smaller front and a longer back track but the shape is very different with the toes clearly spread out.
One clear indication that you are dealing with opossums is the spread out toes, these often look like little starfish.
Although they have nails, these don't seem to show up much in the tracks, unlike a raccoon or a dog which have prominent nail marks.
If you are interested, I have a page on how to tell dog from coyote tracks
In these photos above, you can see the opossum's feet and clearly see the little pink toes widely spaced.
Opossum have a very distinctive way of walking. They seem to waddle with their rumps going back and forth. The waddle is more pronounced in the larger older individuals.
Another distinctive trait is that they can keep their tails up. This means that some tracks will have tail marks zig-zagging back and forth while others show no tail marks at all.
The tail tracks is easier to see in deeper snow when it is harder to keep your tail out of the snow when you only have short stubby legs.
Like many other animals, opossum put their back feet in the tracks of their front feet or rather just behind, so it's common to see a front paw print looking like a little star, just a bit covered by the back print which is just a bit longer.
You can see opossum in worse weather than raccoons. They don't seem to stay out of the rain or colder weather the way raccoons do, sleeping through bad weather. Maybe the opossums have not adapted to bad weather yet. Around my house they seem to come about an hour after sunset. They are the first to check out the fallen seed from the bird feeders and dig for the worms and grubs that seem to be more abundant around the fallen seed.
I've only seen opossum droppings once. It was the size and shape of a small dog's but was much coarser, full of ?? undigested seeds and other vegetation. This sample was almost black. I think their spoor would be quite variable depending on what was on the menu that day.
Opossum are fairly harmless and will play dead, I've seen one do this around a coyote, rather than fight. They don't carry rabies often, because their temperature is lower than ideal for the rabies virus. They look quite disreputable with a lot of sharp teeth but I've never seen them bite anything that did not attack them.
I would much rather have opossums around than ticks.
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