Mysterious animal tracks


What was the story of this mysterious creature which wandered up to the water’s edge? What happened next?

Animal tracks are mysteries – pieces of an intriguing puzzle just waiting to be solved.

If you know what you’re looking for, animal tracks can provide all sorts of wonderful clues to help recreate the story of what happened. The serious flaw in my animal track mysteries is that they have some missing parts. Lots of missing parts.


That definitely looks like fun.

I look at animal tracks and I’m usually stumped by the obvious question. What sort of animal made that track? I stumbled upon the tracks in the photo to the right a couple of weeks ago and all I could think of was that some creature was having way too much fun sliding around.

Since I often start off not knowing which animal went before me, it gets a lot more complicated trying to figure out what they were doing. It reminds me of a table full of tiny blue puzzle pieces with no master picture to help me put it all together!

I can live with mystery. In fact you could say that animal tracks could be a metaphor for life. We don’t always know where our tracks will lead. It’s a tension we live with that adds to the mystery.

Besides, I can always image wild creatures slinking around in the dark, either hunting for prey or trying to avoid the hunters. The drama would never end.

Just about the time I started to set aside the puzzle metaphor and be happy to just go with my imagination, I came across these tracks.


What is the message?

Now it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that these are not random tracks. This creature clearly drew a picture of a bird in the snow. Just who exactly was the audience and what was the message? Was it appealing to the bird’s vanity? Was it trying to distract a predator? Was I the intended audience? Perhaps there were secret messages in the other tracks that I had missed?

While pondering all these confusing thots, I stumbled upon an even more elabourate set of tracks.


A true work of art.

At least there was no mystery here. My wife had been amusing herself making snow angels while I was off taking photos of animal tracks.

Latest Comments

  1. Kavita Joshi says:

    awesome shots 🙂


  2. Sid Dunnebacke says:

    Love it, Lyle. The mysterious message-maybe it’s a bird shot is fabulous. Not the most efficient creature, but probably the most fulfilled, based on that path. That’s a fun, stopped to smell the proverbial roses path.


  3. mflahertyphoto says:

    Great post Lyle, like the nice contrasty light you found to highlight the tracks.


  4. hannele says:

    Very nice post! I’ve taken a couple of tracking courses and am still sometimes completely unable to figure out what is what. We don’t even have that many animal species here in Finland…

    The tracks leading to the water (or from it?..) look like the gait of something like a fox. But without actually seeing the foot print it’s hard to say, of course (and I’m no expert). Otters, yes, they like having fun – like wolverines! I went to the zoo during a snow storm once and the only animals not hiding were wolverines who ran up a hill, slid down, run back up, and continued like that for a long time. Clearly other creatures than large apes can have fun, too. 🙂


  5. photographybycalliec says:

    How funny, wow you write just as well as you take images. Great story, hope your wife had fun
    cheers callie


    • lylekrahn says:

      Glad you liked the story I cobbled together. Yes she did have fun with it but it’s entirely possible I took a little long with the photos since there were multiple snow angels!


  6. outdoorpictures says:

    I like the mysteries about tracks in the snow! My guess: #1 = Canine, i.e. fox or coyote, #2 = fleeing porcupine (given this species live there), #3 = a kind of mouse #4 = human origin. Best regards Thomas


  7. Kyle Kuns says:

    Great to see you found some tracks this time out.


  8. FeyGirl says:

    Such a fun post… LOVE trying to figure out the tracks, although yours are definitely a bit different, heh!! 🙂


  9. mariayarri says:

    Yes, it really is ! And i love being out in the more than anything else .
    When i was younger, i spent many nights out in the forrest to watch the Capercaillie and the black Grouse playing for their females . // Maria


  10. mariayarri says:

    I grew up with nature and learn much from my grandfather .. And i have been hunting for most of my life …But now i only hunt with my camera … // Maria


  11. mariayarri says:

    The first track appears to be made of a fox … The second look like tracks from an otter …
    the third …can it be some kind of weasel ?
    I love your wifes snowangel 🙂 // Maria


  12. Deb W. Trotter says:

    Very nice photos. It’s always fun to see animal tracks in the snow or sand. I usually don’t know who or what made them, though.


  13. Guillaume says:

    I love photos with lot of snow !
    Very good job !


  14. Phil Lanoue says:

    I’m guessing that whoever made that bird outline was doing it as a lure to entice birds to land there with the idea that once they do land they will be quickly grabbed and eaten.
    Maybe Wile E Coyote did it to trap the Roadrunner?


  15. doraiswamyganesh says:

    Dear Lyle, Please do’nt keep me in suspense ! What was it ? Regards to you and Mrs Lyle , Ganesh.


    • lylekrahn says:

      The knowledgeable person I talked to thot the sliding tracks were otters and other commenters seem to agree. As for the rest – some things just remain mysteries!


  16. livliveslife says:

    I love that slide one!! Your description for all of these is great, too.


  17. petbreederconnection says:

    I’m going to suggest the sliding tracks are otters. They love to have fun in the snow and ice. But I was really hoping to see the photographer through the ice tracks!


  18. rachel bar says:

    What a wonderful, insightful and visually enticing post. I cannot not reflect on the different lives of people who live in different climates (I’m in sunny LA) and how they are shaped by that experience.


    • lylekrahn says:

      Thanks. I have often thot as well that climates must shape our experiences. If nothing else, it certainly encourages people to talk a lot about the weather around here.


  19. Remember Always Photo says:

    The photo of tracks leading to the water made me “think” of an American Dipper. They are an land and underwater song bird also have a extra eyelid “nictitating membrane” to see under water. You totally have me curious about those tracks and the story behind them.


  20. SeenorwaySeeNorway says:

    One look like a mink and the other like a snow mouse, but the one sliding around seem to have had wings?
    I must admit I haven’t seen anything like that before?!


  21. Mike Powell says:

    Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed making tracks in the fresh snow or on an empty beach. Alas, I have no special expertise in deciphering the mystery of tracks, though I am really intrigued by the “bird” tracks. I really liked the posting and the surprise ending that you sprung on us.


  22. Gunta says:

    😀 life’s little mysteries.


  23. mimar9 says:

    Perfect depiction!


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