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Hi.

Animals use vision, smell, hearing when looking for their meals. Never seen reference of a predator tracking prints in the snow, which seems a smarter/simpler/easier way to follow 'a meal passed here'

Can smell the scent left in the snow, but seems that visually, print paths are not a clue to follow. Do you know anything about ?

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Hi.

Animals use vision, smell, hearing when looking for their meals. Never seen reference of a predator tracking prints in the snow, which seems a smarter/simpler/easier way to follow 'a meal passed here'

Can smell the scent left in the snow, but seems that visually, print paths are not a clue to follow. Do you know anything about ?

Hi.

Human sense of smell is nowhere as keen as that of most predators.

Smell - Human Vs. Animal Smell

...Yet some olfactory abilities of animals are probably beyond humans. Most vertebrates have many more olfactory nerve cells in a proportionately larger olfactory epithelium than humans, which probably gives them much more sensitivity to odors. The olfactory bulb in these animals takes up a much larger proportion of the brain than humans, giving them more ability to process and analyze olfactory information.

 

In addition, most land vertebrates have a specialized scent organ in the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal organ (also known as the Jacobson's organ or the accessory olfactory organ). This organ, believed to be vestigial in humans, is a pit lined by a layer of cells with a similar structure to the olfactory epithelium, which feeds into its own processing part of the brain, called the accessory olfactory bulb (an area of the brain absent in humans).

 

The vomeronasal sense appears to be sensitive to odor molecules with a less volatile, possibly more complex molecular structure than the odorants to which humans are sensitive. This sense is important in reproduction, allowing many animals to sense sexual attractant odors, or pheromones, thus governing mating behavior. It is also used by reptilian and mammalian predators in tracking prey. ...

Olfaction @ Wiki

...

In plants and animals

...

Scenthounds as a group can smell one- to ten-million times more acutely than a human, and Bloodhounds, which have the keenest sense of smell of any dogs,[citation needed] have noses ten- to one-hundred-million times more sensitive than a human's. They were bred for the specific purpose of tracking humans, and can detect a scent trail a few days old. The second-most-sensitive nose is possessed by the Basset Hound, which was bred to track and hunt rabbits and other small animals.

 

Bears, such as the Silvertip Grizzly found in parts of North America, have a sense of smell seven times stronger than that of the bloodhound, essential for locating food underground. Using their elongated claws, bears dig deep trenches in search of burrowing animals and nests as well as roots, bulbs, and insects. Bears can detect the scent of food from up to 18 miles away; because of their immense size, they often scavenge new kills, driving away the predators (including packs of wolves and human hunters) in the process.

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Bears can detect the scent of food from up to 18 miles away

 

One time on a camping trip in Montana we decided to BBQ some hamburgers . . . . . . . . BAAAAAD IDEA!!!

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Rephrasing... Is there any predator animal that visually follows prey footprints on snow ?

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Rephrasing... Is there any predator animal that visually follows prey footprints on snow ?

I am not aware of any. I don't think animals have the reasoning ability to associate a track with any animal, let alone distinguish prey animals.

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Rephrasing... Is there any predator animal that visually follows prey footprints on snow ?

Humans

 

Really, though, tracking footprints in the snow only seems like a great way of tracking because we are effectively noseblind. Like a visually impaired animal with sensitive whiskers asking why anyone would bother looking at something to figure out it's shape when you can just walk over and touch it. Much more useful and you get a better idea of what it's like than you would through sight.

 

Unless, of course, you have really good eyesight and can therefore distinguish fine detail at a distance.

 

Similarly, why look for tracks on the ground when you already have a glowing neon sign pointing you down a path you can literally follow with your eyes closed?

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The problem with footprints is that they don't tell you WHEN they were made, unless you have a brain the size of a modern human's.

 

The sense of smell tells a lot more than a footprint ever could. To many predators, it tells of size and age and strength, and health of the prey, and how far away they are, maybe even how fast they are moving, and whether they are stressed.

They could learn stuff like that instinctively, from what they smelled on previous hunts.

 

An expert human tracker might be able to tell stuff like that from a track, but no animal can match our powers of intuition and deduction.

 

For a hunting behaviour to evolve, it has to help a bit, all the way from the rudimentary stage, to the sophisticated stage.

Following a scent can do that.

But following tracks at the rudimentary stage would lead to a huge waste of energy, in the vast majority of cases.

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Rephrasing... Is there any predator animal that visually follows prey footprints on snow ?

 

"Yes", the human predator is notorious for following/tracking prey animal "footprints" in snow, mud dirt, dust or wherever else they find said ""tracks".

 

But most predator animals prefer using their "sense of smell" for tracking their prey animal(s) simply because they can distinguish between an "old" and a "fresh" track ...... as well as the "direction" their prey animal was walking/running.

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I would not be surprised if some birds of prey home in on potential prey by sight of tracks from above but I have no evidence or examples.

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I would not be surprised if some birds of prey home in on potential prey by sight of tracks from above but I have no evidence or examples.

 

@ Ken Fabian

 

Iffen one was to define small “waves” or ”ripples” in the surface water as being the “tracts” left behind by swimming or migrating fish, …… then “Yes”, ……. birds of prey such as the Bald Eagle, Kingfisher and dozens of different Sea Birds …… home in on potential prey by the sight of the “tracks” they leave behind them in the water

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Some birds of prey can detect light frequencies that we can't. I think it's into the ultra-violet range. Because a lot of rodents have regular runs, and pee as the go, they eventually leave an ultra violet trail that the birds can pick up on.

(that's from memory so it might be off the mark)

Other rodents actually wear little paths on their regular routes, (like cattle do) which are easy for the birds to see from the air.

 

So the birds know where to look from the tracks. Whether you can call that tracking is debatable.

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Now I was thinking, Wolverines are notorious for, per se, “tracking” the trap-line trail of north woods “fur trappers”, ….. day after day after day, …… and eating any and all animals that have been caught in said traps.

 

The fur trapper either has to give up trapping or kill the Wolverine.

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Considering that snow is not usually a constant in most environments it is not surprising that a species might not evolve the ability to use tracks in snow as a method of tracking prey. Mammals tend to rely on smell as that is more regularly usable in most environments and they already have the equipment for it. Mammalian vision is generally "poor" compared with humans (also mammals). Humans have a finer resolution than most mammals and can see in a wider range of colors than most other mammals. Naturally, we have evolved this ability to track visually as we reduced our sense of smell. I pointed out a heron to one of my dogs once and the more I pointed and whispered to her the more frantic her efforts to smell the GROUND became. Mammals are not wired for a visual form of hunt.

 

Birds have better vision than humans do in general as they can also see into the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum. From what I understand birds of prey use this vision to track the passage of prey animals but not particularly their footprints. Urine trails and trampled vegetation are more usual readings.

 

At least some reptiles and mammals can also see into the infrared portion of the spectrum. Tracking via heat trails would be rather efficient and would allow a sense of timing of the passage of the potential prey item.

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