Tracks in the Snow

By Chris Williams on February 25, 2016.

640px-Predator_and_prey_activity_footprints_animal_traces_in_the_snowQ:  After a recent dusting of snow, I noticed little tracks all around my house, around the bushes, and all over the rock walls.  What is making the tracks, and should I be concerned about animals in my house as well as outside?

A:  Although the winter of 2016 has note produced much snow in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, much of the North East has been blanketed in white.  A laver of fresh snow can be very revealing.  Any animal that passes over or through the new snow will leave some sort of tracks or disturbance.  Some of the animal tracks I frequently encounter are from domestic dogs and cats, foxes, coyotes, lynx, deer, bear, fisher cats, weasels, minks, raccoons, skunks, beavers, porcupines, squirrels of all types, chipmunks rats, mice, voles, shrews, small birds, birds of prey,  crows, and turkeys.  Each set of tracks can tell a story of some kind. Often the animals are seeking food or moving through the area.  Hunters like foxes and cats will sometimes have distinct routes that they use on a routine basis; some animals like skunks and raccoons may wander around in no specific pattern.  Feathers or fur and blood on the snow are signs of an epic struggle; sometimes you can even see where the hawk or owls wing tips brushed the snow as they hit the prey animal.  One of the most common tracks I look for are those of mice.  Mice are small and weigh about an ounce.  As they move about on the snow they sort of hop, making little marks with their hind legs and tail in a rough line.  If you follow the tail, you can sometimes find the mice coming and going from a bush or bird feeder right to the corner of the house, where there is likely a small opening.   Adult mice can go through openings the size of a #2-pencil erasure or the human pinky fingertip.  Rats and squirrels can also squeeze through fairly small holes as well, or create them. Bats also do not require much space to get into a structure where it can be trapped or find a roosting site.

I was recently at a mouse estimate looking over the situation. It had snowed the previous night. The house was in good shape, minimal landscaping, a few small holly bushes, an ornamental fruit tree, and a stonewall going up the driveway.  As the homeowner and I walked around the house, we noticed many mouse tracks.   The tracks were coming up and down the wall, in and out of the rocks and on top of the wall.  There were also tracks all around the fruit tree, which was covered in little red berries.  By the bird feeder, we found the most important find!  Mouse tracks leading en-mass from the bird feeder to the closest corner of the house, and the chimney edge.  The route as beaten down from so much activity, mice were gathering the sunflower seeds and bringing them directly into the house via the corner and up into the roofline where the chimney enters the roof.   “Well“, the homeowner declared excitetedly, “that explains the seeds in our Christmas ornaments, and little berries on my basement shelving!”  We discovered a few other spots that had tracks but the main problem was located.   I devised a management plan to solve the issues at hand.  I started by moving the beloved bird feeder over 100 feet from house and suggested removing it altogether.  We then set traps and professional rodenticides to reduce and remove the population of mice living in the structure.  Once the population was under control efforts were made to secure the corners with construction grade materials, and seal the roofline.  Once all the measures were implemented, the problem was solved!  By using the mouse tracks we were quickly able to asses the root of the issue.  It is not always that simple, but by gathering as much information as possible during the initial assessment and using that to your advantage is key when solving tough pest problems, and experience sure helps.  That is why it is always best to call the pest control professionals from Colonial Pest Control Inc.  With many years of experience, our technicians can quickly identify problem areas and take actions or make recommendations that will help!  Therefore, if you have tracks in the snow leading out of your house, you have mice.  Do not wait until a fire starts or contamination rises to unsanitary levels call Colonial Pest Control today!  1-800-525-8084



Tim Chace

Photo Credit : “Predator and prey activity footprints animal traces in the snow” 25| Wikimedia Commons.



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