I have never considered myself to be a “real” tracker, but checking out scat and tracks of creatures wherever I am is a definite hobby of mine and has been since I was a kid. I am usually satisfied by figuring out the species, but rarely try to determine whether it is male or female. However, it occurred to me recently that I should try.
I have encountered more bobcat tracks in northern New England in recent years than I ever remember seeing when I was younger. After a small accumulation of snow several weeks ago, I discovered the most perfect example of bobcat tracks: clear cat-like asymmetry, no claw marks, and a distinction between toe pads and paw fur. I took many photos, knowing the chances of finding such a perfect track specimen in the future was slim.
Looking at those photos later, I was pushed to learn more. Would I be able to tell if it was the track of a male or female bobcat? To figure it out, I did some research and learned that males tend to have a more round track overall, while female tracks are more oval. Males’ individual toes are also more round and densely arranged with respect to the heel pad. Female toes are further apart and not as close to the heel pad. Given those two characteristics, what do you think the track above is?
If you guessed male, I would concur!
Here is another resource about the differences between male and female bobcat tracks.