Squirrel with tail up standing on wooden deck with trees in the background.
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How To Identify Squirrel Tracks

Identifying squirrel tracks can be invaluable for learning more about these fascinating creatures. Observing the clues left behind, you can better understand their habits, diet, and overall behavior. 

Observing the tracks in your yard, neighborhood, or nearby park can help you become familiar with the size and shape of their front and hind feet. This can be especially helpful in determining the type of squirrel visiting your property.

There are a few key characteristics to look for when trying to identify squirrel tracks. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

Key Pest Points:

To Identify Squirrel Tracks look at the shape, size, evidence of chewing, and claw marks.

• Looking for other signs like scat and nesting materials can help identify the type of squirrel leaving the prints.

• You can prevent squirrels from damaging your property by following preventive measures such as trimming tree branches and sealing off any potential entry points.

Look at the Shape

The most important thing to note when looking for squirrel footprints is the shape they make. The form of their tracks in the ground is often a telltale sign of what kind of animal left them. 

In the case of squirrel paws, they typically leave behind an oval-shaped track with five toes on the front and four toes on the back, so their tracks will appear as two lines that resemble a teardrop shape, with the wider part at the front. The toes all point forward and are usually about an inch apart.

The direction of the tracks can also tell you the direction the squirrel was traveling. If the shape is pointing in one direction, then most likely, the animal was running or hopping in that direction. Additionally, squirrel tracks in the snow tend to be more pronounced, so that’s an ideal time to observe them.

Find Evidence of Chewing

Another sign of squirrels that you can look for is chewing. If a squirrel has been in the area, it will most likely have gnawed on things like trees, fences, or other objects. Look for small tooth marks or pieces of wood that have been chewed off. This evidence can indicate that the tracks you found are from these outdoor pests.

Squirrel prints on the snow.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Measure the Track

For accurate identification, try to measure the tracks. You’ll need to find an object like a ruler or tape measure. Once you have the track and the object you want to use for measuring, place the object along one side of the print and count how many inches it takes to reach the other side.

Squirrel Track CharacteristicsDescription
Front Paw Size½ inch wide and ½ inch long
Back Paw Size½ inch wide and 1 inch long
Front Paw Features4 Toe Pads and 3 Palm Pads
Back Paw Features5 Toe Pads and 4 Palm Pads

Squirrel paw prints can measure just around 2 inches in length, so this measurement can help you narrow down the possible species of squirrels.

Look at the Location

The track’s location can also give a clue as to what kind of squirrel it is. Gray squirrels typically live in urban areas, while red squirrels are more likely to be seen in rural woods. They also tend to vary in size, with gray squirrels having larger paws than red squirrels.

Search for Claw Marks

Squirrels have long, sharp claws often visible in the tracks they leave behind. Claw marks indicate the squirrel was running or digging, which will be more pronounced than tracks left while walking. Additionally, you may see diagonal slashes along the side of the print that shows where a squirrel’s claws have dug into the ground.

Follow the Tracks

If you are still trying to decide if a set of tracks belong to a squirrel, try following them and see where they lead. Squirrels tend to be very active and can cover large distances quickly, so the tracks may bring you to a nearby tree where you can spot the animal. However, it’s important to remember that squirrels can be shy and quickly scurry away if they notice you.

Squirrel standing with both paws holding food, with bare trees in the background.

Look for Other Signs

Other signs can help you determine if a squirrel is in the area, such as:

Droppings: Squirrels typically leave droppings that are barrel-shaped. Squirrel poop can be found near their nests or on the ground where they have been feeding.

Nests: Squirrels usually build nests in trees, but you may also find them in attics, sheds, or other cavities. Also, look for a round ball of twigs and leaves high up in a tree’s branches.

Sounds: Listen for distinctive chirping noises that could indicate the presence of squirrels nearby.

Feeding Habits: Look for signs of food being taken. Squirrels often pilfer bird feeders and fruits and nuts from trees, so you may find evidence of them having been in the area if these items are missing.

By looking for these critical characteristics and fun facts about squirrels, you can quickly identify squirrel tracks and determine what type of animal left them behind. This can be a great way to study wildlife and observe animals from a safe distance.

How To Prevent Squirrel Damage

If you think squirrels may be causing damage around your property, there are a few preventative measures you can take to help keep squirrels away:

Purchase wire mesh to cover areas where squirrels may be entering.

• Keep bird feeders away from trees and other structures that the squirrels can jump onto.

• Trim back any overhanging branches so they cannot use them to gain access to your roof or other areas.

• Plant species of plants that are less attractive to squirrels, such as mint or daffodils.

• Remove any stray food sources that may attract the squirrels, such as pet food, bird seed, or fallen fruits and nuts.

• Place a squirrel-proof feeder in your yard to keep squirrels away from the food source.

Overall, squirrel tracks can be challenging to identify, but with a keen eye for detail, you can easily distinguish between them. By considering the size, shape, location, and other signs of squirrel activity in your area, you can quickly identify what type of animal is left behind on a particular set of tracks. 

Once you’ve identified the culprits, you must utilize preventative measures to help keep them away from your property. However, if all else fails, you may need to enlist the help of a professional wildlife removal service. These experts can safely and humanely remove any unwanted squirrels from your property so that you can live in peace.

FAQs

What do squirrel tracks look like?

They are typically small and oval-shaped, with claw marks at the front. The tracks may be an inch or so apart and are usually about 2-3 inches long. 

Are squirrel tracks distinct from other animals?

Yes, squirrel prints can be distinguished from other animals due to their size and shape. They often have claw marks, which can be a helpful identifier.

How can you tell the difference between a squirrel and a rabbit track?

Squirrel tracks appear oval-shaped and have claw marks, while rabbit tracks are typically larger and contain four toes. Rabbits also have webbed hind feet, usually visible in their tracks. Additionally, rabbit tracks tend to appear in pairs with one another, while squirrels will often leave their tracks spaced slightly further apart.


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