Red Squirrel Gray Squirrel
(ground dwelling) (tree dwelling)
H H H H /\
f f f || H = hind
f || f = front
This of course is a tendency and not always true. So in general animals that spend more time on the ground tend to follow the pattern or red squirrels, with front feet landing offset, and animals that spend more time in trees, like gray squirrels, land with feet side-by-side. One of the things reds are doing with all that time spent on the ground is harvesting mushrooms. Look in a stand of hemlocks for mushrooms lodged in the crotch of a branch, left out by red squirrels to dry for a winter supply.
|Rear feet, five toes, long flat foot|
|Front foot, 4 toes, smaller dexterous digits|
Ecological notes: Red squirrels spend this time of year in search of a territory to defend over the winter, when food resources are drastically reduced. Fall dispersal of yearlings is always a rough time for animals, with lots and lots more road kill this time of year than at others. Below are the feet I got from a raccoon (Procyon lotor) that was road kill just north of Stowe. I surprised at how much fat was stored up in the tail.
|Raccoon feet (rear feet on outside, front on inside)|