white boat in a marina with tall grass

Animal Tracks

Throughout my visits to coastal Georgia for fieldwork, I noticed a stark difference in animal life compared to my previous residence in Wisconsin. Animals looked smaller, had different colorations, and some were tropical species I had only ever seen at the pet store. Perhaps it was just the sense of wonder in a new place that convinced me the animals were different. The presence of raccoons, deer, and rabbits for example were no surprise. Even five-lined skinks can be found in other parts of the United States. But each species seemed to have its own unique features. I swore that skink I saw on the Georgia coast had its own fiery personality. I was sure that the deer had the bushiest tails I had ever seen. And the demeanor of the raccoons had me convinced beyond a doubt that they were more clever than any of their urban-dwelling counterparts.

Now it’s time for the real test of cleverness. Can you tell which island animal left the tracks or holes in each of these images? If you see more than one kind of tracks visible in an image, guess the owner of the more prevalent tracks. All images are from my recent trips to the barrier islands of Georgia. You can read more about my experience or view other photos taken during my first, second, third, or fourth visits by clicking on the links, or in “The History of Sapelo Island“. Answers are at the end.

hundreds of organized lines in the sand
three pronged mark in sand
circles widely spaced in sand
large paw prints in sand
hole surrounded by lines in sand
hole in sand with nothing surrounding
footprints in sand

Answers:

  1. The tracks that look like they were made by an animal with a thousand feet were most likely from a coastal lizard. There are many kinds of lizards along the southeastern coast of the US. I love how it looks like the lizard was zig zagging around at the speed of light, as though the sand was too hot.
  2. These could be the tracks of a tern. There are many kinds of shore birds in this region. Are you familiar with specific kinds of terns? Share in the comments!
  3. Believe it or not, the round, single file tracks in this image are probably from a red fox.
  4. These enormous paw prints belong to either a coyote, a large domestic dog, or something else.
  5. This hole belongs to a lizard, which you can guess by the claw marks near the entrance that it made while making its hideaway!
  6. Since there are no clear marks around the hole, and the hole was pretty close to the water, this hole was probably made by a crab. You wouldn’t want to poke around in there and find out!
  7. These footprints were made by a few humans on a beachside stroll.

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