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Word of the Week: Gait
January 15, 2021 by Haya Aldoori

Welcome to Word of the Week! Stay tuned for a new word each Friday to amp up your nature vocabulary!

Gait [GEYT] (noun): a manner of walking, stepping, or running.

If you’re tracking animals by observing their footprints, taking a closer look at the gait, or movement patterns, can give you lots of insight about who and how they’ve been active in your surroundings.The preferred / normal movement patterns of a given animal will tend to fit into one of 4 patterns or gaits:

Waddlers / Pacers (slow moving, wide-bodied animals such as the beaver, muskrat, skunk, porcupine, bear and raccoon)

Diagonal walkers / Perfect Steppers (Animals whose bodies are further from the ground: deer, moose, caribou, elk, fox, wolf, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion and dog)

Bounders (Animals with long slender bodies and short legs: the least weasel, ermine or short-tail weasel, long-tail weasel, fisher, mink and marten

Gallopers (small animals who move speedily across the land: mice,

voles, and shrews, chipmunks, squirrels, and larger animals like rabbits and hares)

The winter is an excellent time of year to track animals because you can look for visible footprints in the snow. On your next winter visit to High Park, keep and eye out for animal tracks!


Canadian Wildlife Federation

Princeton: Outdoor Action Guide to Animal Tracking

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