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  • San Jose Educational Article of the Month - How to Identify Opossum Tracks

How to Identify Opossum Tracks

Did you know how a San Jose opossum’s track could sometimes be mistaken for a racoon’s? With this in mind, you have to know how to tell the difference. Opossums or possums have particularly bigger toes that are quite chunky (like what the thumbs look like). This is very prominent in their hind foot so you have to keep that in mind in case you encounter something that looks the same.

Identify the trait that stands out
You will see a California opossum track in sand or soil where the hind footprint overlaps with the front footprint. Aptly called for their name, opossums possess opposable thumbs that allow them to grasp on trees while climbing. This is visible on their hind feet while at the same time; they make use of their tail to get on top of these tree branches quickly.

Find out the best time of the day
It is best to look for their trails early in the morning. You can find them in the forests or even in the suburbs. The trail pattern will show an overlapping motion between the hind and front feet and is most of the time easily found along muds as well as dry and fine soils. They eat almost anything they find in the garbage bin and may even invade your pet food storage if left unattended.

See the difference
San Jose opossum tracks will appear with 5 toes on both front and rear feet that also include the opposable thumbs found on the hind. However, the thumb doesn’t appear to have a claw unlike when you look at a raccoon’s footprint more closely.

• Smaller inner toes towards the left
• A total of 5 toes or thumbs (for that size and shape)
• The 3 mid toes are usually aligned perfectly and are pointing towards the same direction
• Front stride is similar to a racoon
• Hind tracks will show opposable thumb quite impressively

It just got real
While recent breakthroughs have been focusing on using technologies such as special satellites, Global Positioning System or GPS tracking and even VHF Radio Tracking systems, it is still important to first identify the trail and footprints before anything else. These technologies paved the way for high-powered devices to be used by scientists for their experiments. Most of the time, these gadgets are only placed on the California animal after capturing them. In most cases, we need to track them down especially if they have entered our properties and have caused insurmountable damage along the way.

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