Four Cougar / Mountain Lion Tracks


This is the second video showing the trail of the cougar / mountain lion that came through the brush, then pounced and landed with all four feet leaving perfect tracks in the mud. These are real beauties! A nice grouping of all four paws and one track shows incredible detail!

One thing to note is that I misidentified one of the pads on the right front track in the video. All the excitement of filming and I messed up! I repeat the misidentified characteristic several times too! (OK, so I am a tracker not a videographer. LOL.) Can you guess which it is? Think about it for a moment and I'll answer that question below. I caught my error too late to go back and re-film this video, so I will have to live with it. I hope my error can be used as a learning point for those learning to identify mountain lion tracks.

One interesting thing to notice in this video is the depth of the tracks. If you look closely, you will see that the cougar landed first on the front feet, then the hind feet followed and landed with less force. This initial impact left behind deeper imprints from the front paws than from the hind paws. This action is easy to read in the tracks. The mud also cracked when the force of the cougar's landing was applied to it.

Animal tracks can be read just like printed words on a page. These tracks tell the story of a cougar who stalked through the brush very quietly and then pounced. I did not find any prey tracks at the landing site, but it could have been trying to catch a bird.

Answer to question above:

The misidentified part of the track is the dewclaw. I say "dewclaw" in the video, but the part is actually not the dewclaw. What is the name of the part I point to in the video? ...  It is the carpal pad. The dewclaw imprint is visible, but it is smaller and more difficult to see in a video format. There are still photos of this track below so you can examine this feature. I also included the photo showing the cast made of this footprint. You can more clearly see the imprint of the dewclaw in the cast. It is difficult to make out in the track on the ground. The imprint left by the carpal pad is very clear and well-defined in both the video and still pictures of this track.

Notice also the asymmetrical alignment of the track as a whole. This is characteristic of feline (cat) tracks. Bobcats, domestic cats, and other large felines share this characteristic. It helps differentiate their pawprints from those of dogs. 


mountain lion or cougar track in wet mud. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

Still photo of the right front track of a mountain lion. The penny is placed in the track to provide scale. It is 3/4 inch across. The dewclaw is toe number 1. The toes are numbered starting with the innermost toe - the dewclaw. Toe number 3 is the leading toe. Notice how that toe sticks out way ahead of all the other toes in the track. This is how you tell left from right footprints. The leading toe is equivalent to your middle finger. If you place your right hand over the photo of this track (Go on, try it!) you will see that your fingers are aligned the same way the toes of this mountain lion are. If you find a cougar track in the field, you can use your own hand as a sort of guideline to tell which tracks were made by which foot.


Cast made of a mountain lion or cougar track in wet mud. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2009.

This is the cast made of the track shown above. Letter A shows a claw mark, something that is not often seen in feline tracks. Remember that this track was found in deep mud, so the claws would be more likely to show up. If you look at toe number 4, there is also a claw mark there. Letter B shows the imprint left by the dewclaw. It is easier to see in the cast than in the track itself. Letter C shows the carpal pad. This is located higher up on the cougar's wrist and is much less likely to be found in tracks than the dewclaw.

The interesting thing about casts is that they show the animal's entire "foot." It's like holding the paw of a mountain lion in your hand! To use a photography analogy, the footprint is the "negative" image and the cast is the "positive" image.



Go to the main page of Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den

Find mountain lion or cougar tracks posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.

Now available: "Animals Don't Cover Their Tracks - An Introduction to Animal Tracking" on CD! (Version 3.0) New drawings, more species, more photos, more extensive sections on tracking humans, more detailed directions for plaster casting, mystery tracks section, tracking stories section, and more. The CD features over 100 species, including special bonus sections with the tracks of some African and Australian animals. A large section on tracking lost people for search and rescue is included, with over four pages of photos showing the details of tracks and signs people leave. Easy to use format. This web site is limited by bandwidth, but the CD-ROM is not. The CD is available in my online store at:  Works with Mac or PC. Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!


Find other tracking products:*


Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!





Got a cougar or mountain lion story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

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Copyright 2009. Text, drawings, videos, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera


Copyright Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

Page updated: Monday, October 6, 2009.