Mouse or Vole?

small mammal tracks

I struggle with differentiating mouse from vole tracks when behavioral clues are not obvious.  Voles, at least the commonest of souther New England, baseline movement (sometime known as harmonic gate) is a trot while mice move in a bound most of the time.  Of course they are each capable of both gates as well as others.  There are distinctions in the foot morphology but I have not looked at enough clear tracks of these species to reliably see these differences with confidence.

mouse tracks

The creature in these pictures moved in a protected area close to cover most likely exploring the cracks and holes in the frozen sand at the bottom of a big eroded drainage.  All kinds of things blow in there from the sand barren-like wild blueberry fields above.

Mouse or vole tracks in sand

The measurements I took fit into several mouse and vole species.  Some of the morphology is apparent but not consistent.  In some sets the right foot looks different than the left.

small rodent tracks walking Mouse or vole tracks bounding

If I have it right the toes of voles show more connection to the pads giving them a finger like appearance.  I don’t really see that in these tracks.  These do however walk a great deal like a vole is more likely to do.

There were a few bounds mixed in as well.

small mammal tracks bounding


Every time I think I got this tracking thing licked I find something else to learn.

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