I slipped and slid my way into Fox park Saturday, 4/1/17 at about 4pm.  About 7 inches of snow had appeared on the ground over the last 24 hours, which (for the second time) definitely stifled and spring-like activities for the critters and what not.  Yet, the still powder-like snow was melting already.  This stuff hadn't really had time to settle and compact, it just came down from the sky just below freezing, then bobbed above freezing at about noon and rained.  This made for perfect postholing snow.  Indeed, I saw some dogs who took it hard- leaving postholes almost 3 feet deep.

I heard some confused titmice and a lonely Hairy woodpecker over (almost) the whole time out, though a the crow crew started up yakking away just as I left.  I had really come for the tracks in the snow, but because of the rain and rapidly melting cover, I could only make out big dogs.

"Big Dog"

Here we have one of these big dogs.  things to note:

  • triangle shaped claws
  • very symmetrical
  • creates a distinct circle-oval shape
  • Can easily be broken into left, right, two leading toes and rear pad quadrants

 

 

These traits are interesting, though they get way cooler and silly when we look at the crazy, unique, and very artistically rendered "black panther" prints I found in the PSU dining hall:

 

I realize this is the worst iPhone-picture-while-scooping-ice-cream example, but...

 

...I do not think these prints are for a black panther.  I do not think they are for a dog.  These are the one of a kind "melanistic dogamount" prints!

 

 

Here we have the local catamount (cougar) vs the dog (similar to the big dog I found).

Remember, the PSU mascot is a melanistic jaguar named "Pemi".   Jaguar prints are anatomically very similar to the puma/cougar version that is theoretically in new england, if only on occasion.   Indeed, these "uber crazy level" cats have an (average) range of about 300 square miles.   Which is 192,000 acres, if you weren't so hot on math.  🙂

This range makes tracking a single cougar extremely difficult, and as far as I can tell, nobody has been particularly successful- thus, finding photos of actual paw prints is really, really hard, and makes the far larger melanistic jaguar prints impossible to find.  Below is a cougar paw from captivity.

{{Information |Description= {{en | paw of cougar (''Puma concolor'')}} |Source=From: No Place for Predators? Gross L PLoS Biology Vol. 6, No. 2, e40 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0060040 [http://biology.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=slideshow&type=fig

So, what are the good and bad parts of the PSU sign?

Good:

  • Toes are mostly in front of the pad.  This is indicative of a cat.
  • Rear pad is wide, (almost) a cat trait in this example

Bad:

  • Rear pad is too oval shaped.  Real cougars and jaguars have deep scallops creating three distinct parts of the pad
  • THE NON-RETRACTABLE CLAWS ARE TRIANGLE SHAPED, LIKE A DOG'S CLAWS!!!

All cats have retractable, grappling-hook shaped claws.  These are rarely out and about when walking, as they are really best for catching one's balance and slicing stuff to shreds.  They are usually seen as dots with a groove toward the toe on a paw print.  Dog claws on the other hand are designed to be a permanent part of the foot, and are shaped like a wider "V" to generally help with transport.  These are what we see, making this paw print completely and unforgivably wrong.

That concludes today's sit spot observation.

-Jess