After I described my roadkill polecat (I’ve had it confirmed as a ‘pure’ polecat by the County Mammal Recorder, by the way) Pablo took the time to comment, saying “I suppose you didn’t take its pawprints before you disposed of it?“
Pablo – I like the way you think!
As a tracker you get used to seeing partial or distorted prints, and for many of the rarer ones you’re never quite sure what made them. The chance to get perfect prints from a known species is too good to pass up. Well, I didn’t take pawprints but I was on the same wavelength as Pablo. I took pictures instead.
Here, for the record, is what a polecat’s paws look like. Here’s the fore paw:
Here’s the hind paw:
Note the five toes on each foot. Polecats are members of the mustelid family, just like badgers, and they share the same basic foot structure.
Here’s a badger foot for comparison:
So, now we know what we’re looking for, it’s time for us all to go out and start looking out for polecat tracks. That’s the beauty of tracking – it allows you to find out about the local wildlife without needing to see the animals yourself. It’s a great tool for the naturalist to have.
I’ll keep you posted on my results.