That is a squirrel track Daddy and that one is a rabbit, proudly exclaimed my four year old. I marveled at the speed at which he had mastered the basic principals of identifying animals through their tracks. Next, I asked him what direction he assumed the rabbit was traveling. Momentarily puzzled he dropped to all fours, resting his nose only inches from the rabbit track. Hmmmm, he pondered, I can see its toes. Great I said, what way are his toes pointing? This way, he excitedly exclaimed and dove headlong into an overgrown spruce thicket fit for neither man nor beast. Minutes passed slowly, as I wondered how his hunt was progressing. Suddenly from the undergrowth, came a low howl . . . DAAAAAADEEEEE! Yes, buddy is everything ok? DAAAADEEEE, I think I found sumpthin?!?!? What is it, I inquired, a rabbit? NO, was the giggled response. DAAAADDDDDEEEE come here I want to show you sumpthin!!
Crawling through snow on hands and knees with spruce needles entering every orifice of my body is not necessarily my idea of a good time but in the interest of child rearing sometimes you have to submit yourself to unthinkable acts in the interest of your child’s education. As I struggled through a particularly complex tangle of shrubbery, I mumbled a soft thank you to the heavens that at least I wasn’t still changing diapers.
Finally arriving beside the lil man I noted he was again on hands and knees examining something. Daddy what is that, he inquired, extending one tiny little tentative finger toward a dozen small round brown objects, littering the surface of the snowy ground. AHHH, I said you have found rabbit caca. “RABBITS GO CACA!?!?” . . . blurted my very perplexed but also extremely interested child. Yes, I said, but another more acceptable term is scat or droppings. “RABBITS GO CACA!??!” . . . came his reaction, this time with added gusto! Yes, I answered; all living things must excrete waste in one fashion or another from the tiniest bacteria to the largest Blue Whale. A look shot across his face, one part confusion and two parts horrified and the lil man belted out at the top of his lungs . . . BLUE WHALES GO CACA!?!
If you haven’t taken your child(ren) out on a snow covered day to look for animal tracks, you are missing out on some fantastic memories. A quick download from the Internet will provide you with all of the materials you need to start this simple and cost effective backyard adventure. If you encounter a track you are unsure of OR simply for documentation purposes (like how many different tracks can we find today, this winter or this year) having a digital camera on hand to record the tracks you find (and the fun) is an added benefit to the overall experience.