Footprints – Identifying Mammals

VEADO-MATEIRO Mazama Americana


The Amazonian brown brocket is 1 to 1.2 m long and weighs up to 20 kg. It lives alone, usually in more open forest areas, and can be active 24 hours a day. It feeds on fruits, shoots of shrubs, leaves, and flowers. Its footprint is very similar to the red brocket’s, but its marks on the ground show the hooves’ inside half, which highlights the tip of the hooves.


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AZARA’S AGOUTI – Dasyprocta azarae

Azara’s agoutis are small to medium-sized rodents, measuring up to 50 cm in length and weighing on average 3 kg. They inhabit forests, cerrados, capoeiras and even cultivated areas. They live solitarily or in pairs, being active mainly at the beginning and end of the day. Their food consists of seeds, fruits, shoots, and roots. Their fore-footprint marks three elongated, forward-facing toes, and a fourth finger positioned on the side and not always visible. Their hind-footprint marks three parallel and united toes, the middle one being the largest of them. The length can vary between 4 and 4.5 cm and the width between 2.5 and 3 cm.


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BRAZILIAN PORCUPINE – Coendou prehensilis

Brazilian porcupines are, on average, 50 cm long and weigh up to 5 kg. They are solitary, nocturnal animals that live in forest and cerrado areas. They feed on fruits, seeds, tree barks and even leaves. The Brazilian porcupine’s footprint has a rounded pad, and their claw marks are well outlined in front of the pad. Their fore-footprint is 6.5 cm long and 3.5 cm wide, has three toes and is smaller than the hind-footprint, which has four toes and is 10 cm long and 5 cm wide. Their hind-footprint can usually cover the fore-footprint.


BRAZILIAN TAPIR – Tapirus terrestris

The largest terrestrial mammal in South America, Brazilian tapirs can weigh up to 300 kg. They inhabit forest areas, mainly in the vicinity of streams and rivers. They are solitary and nocturnal and feed on leaves, fruits, and shoots. A tapir’s footprint often has three broad, short toes, rounded at the ends and with the middle toe always larger than the others. Their footprint varies from 12 to 15 cm in length and from 12 to 14 cm in width. Depending on the soil conditions it is possible to notice a fourth toe on their hind-footprint.


CAPYBARA – Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

Capybaras are the largest rodent in the world. They can reach almost 1.5 m in length and 50 cm in height. On average, they weigh 50 kg but can reach up to 100 kg. They live in family groups, mainly in the vicinity of rivers and lakes. They feed mainly on grass and riparian vegetation. Capybaras are active both at night and during the day. Their fore-footprint marks four elongated, open toes, forming a half-star. Their length varies on average from 11.5 cm to 12.5 cm. Their hind-footprint is similar to their fore-footprint, but it marks three toes on the ground and is smaller, with a total length of 9.5 to 10.5 cm.


COLLARED ANTEATER – Tamandua tetradactyla

Collared anteaters inhabit cerrado and forest areas. They are solitary animals that can vary between 85 and 140 cm in length, and weigh from 2 to 7 kg. They are most active at dusk and night. Their fore-paws are circular, marked by a curved “toe” at the front (claw), which is used to get food, climb and defend themselves. Their hind-footprint is similar to that of a child, presenting fine and small claws. Their fore-footprint can be about 8 cm wide, and their hind-footprint can range from 8 to 10 cm in length and 5 to 6 cm in width.




COLLARED PECCARY – Pecari tajacu

Collared peccaries weigh up to 25 kg. They live in groups of 6 to 9 individuals, but this number can increase to 20. They inhabit forest areas, but can also be seen in open places. They feed on leaves, shoots, roots, fruits, seeds and possibly small animals. Their footprint marks are similar to the white-lipped peccary’s, but they are smaller and less numerous. They vary between 3.5 and 4.5 cm in length by 3.5 to 4 cm in width. Occasionally, you can see the mark of the two small hooves, located in the back part of the hind-paw, denominated garrões or guardas in Portuguese.


ONÇA-PARDA Puma concolor

COUGAR – Puma concolor

Cougars are the second largest feline in Brazil, weighing between 30 and 60 kg. They inhabit the most diverse environments, including areas modified by human activities. They are solitary animals, with daytime and nighttime activities. Their diet is composed of birds, reptiles and, preferably, other mammals. A cougar’s footprint is 8 to 9 cm long and 9 to 10 cm wide, with a triangular-shaped pad and ripples facing the inside. Their forefeet toes are more elongated. Usually, their footprint is thinner and longer than the jaguar’s.


LOBINHO Dusicyon thous

CRAB-EATING FOXES – Cerdosyon thous

Crab-eating foxes are the most common wild dogs in Brazil. They reach a length between 70 and 80 cm and weigh from 7 to 8 kg. They feed on fruits, insects and small vertebrates. They are essentially nocturnal and live alone or in pairs. They inhabit forest and cerrado areas, as well as environments altered by human activities. Their footprint has four toes slightly apart and is 4 to 5 cm long and 4 cm wide, with well-defined claw marks. Their footprint is slightly tapered toward the claws, both on the palmar pad and on the toes. This is the characteristic that sets it apart from the footprint of a domestic dog.


TAMANDUÁ-BANDEIRA Myrmecophaga tridactyla

GIANT ANTEATER – Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Giant anteaters are large animals, which weigh up to 60 kg and can reach 1.20 m, in addition to the almost meter-long tail, resulting in a final length of 2.20 m. Their fore-paws have very developed claws that are used to destroy termite mounds. Anteaters can be found in forests, open fields, and cerrado, where they feed on ants, termites, and larvae. Their fore-footprint is marked by a scythe-shaped circle (claw) about 8 cm wide. Their hind-footprint is similar to that of a child, with well-defined toes followed by claw marks. They are 10 cm long and 6 to 7 cm wide.


TATU-CANASTRA - Priodontes maximus

GIANT ARMADILLO – Priodontes maximus

Giant armadillos are the largest and rarest armadillo in existence. They are more than 1 meter long and weigh more than 50 kg. They inhabit forest and cerrado areas. They are solitary and more active at dusk and night. They feed on insects (termites, ants), larvae, worms and even snakes. Although their fore-paw has five claws, their footprints show only the mark of two, one of them with the large claw, which is marked off the axis of movement. Their hind-footprint features three short, thick toes. Their footprint varies from 6 to 8 cm long and from 7.5 to 9.5 cm wide. Occasionally, it is possible to see marks left by their tails.


JAGUAR – Panthera onca

Jaguars are the largest cat from the Americas. They are up to 1.80 m long and weigh over 100 kg. They are solitary animals, active both during the day and at night. They inhabit areas of dense vegetation with plenty of water, where they can easily find their prey. Their food includes a large variety of medium and large-sized animals. The Jaguar’s footprints are large and very distinct. Their fore-footprint, which is 10 to 12 cm long and 10 to 13 cm wide, is larger than their hind-footprint (9 to 11 cm long and 9 to 10 cm wide), with a large rounded pad. Their fingers are rounded and without claw marks.


JAGUARUNDI – Puma yagouaroundi

Jaguarundis are small to medium-sized animals. They are up to 60 cm long and weigh between 3 and 7 kg. Their color may vary between brown, grayish and reddish. They are diurnal and live in areas of both cerrado and forests. They feed mainly on small rodents and birds. Their footprint has four fingers and, most of the time, no claw marks. The footprint’s length varies from 3 to 4 cm and the width, from 2.5 to 3.5 cm. Their pad, in the shape of an inverted heart, is slightly tapered and their toes, slightly apart.


PACA Cunicullus paca

LOWLAND PACA – Cunicullus paca

Lowland pacas are the second-largest known rodent. With 50 cm in length and weighing up to 10 kg, they feed on fruits, seeds, and shoots. They are solitary animals that spend the day in their burrows, which they leave at dusk and night. They live in forests, especially near rivers and streams. The lowland paca’s fore-footprint shows four long, rounded toes and well-marked claws, while the hind-footprint has only three toes. In the trail of their footprints, it is common see the fore- and hind-footprints overlap. Their footprints length can vary between 4 and 5 cm, and width between 3 and 4 cm.


LOBO-GUARÁ Chrysocyon brachyurus

MANED WOLF – Chrysocyon brachyurus

Maned wolves are the largest Brazilian wild dogs. They are almost 1 m tall and 1.5 m long. They weigh up to 25 kg. They live preferentially in cerrado areas but occupy forest areas as well. They feed on small animals and especially on wolf apples. Maned wolves live alone or in pairs and are active mainly at dusk and night. Their footprint displays four slightly spaced toes with claw marks and a small pad. Their fore-footprint is larger than the hind-footprint. Their footprint varies from 7 to 9 cm long and from 5 to 7 cm wide.


TATU-GALINHA Dasypus novencinctus

NINE-BANDED ARMADILLO – Dasypus novencinctus

Nine-banded armadillos are about 50 cm long and weigh an average of 4 kg. Their shells are smooth, their heads are elongated, their ears are large and their tails, long. They live both in open areas (cerrado) and in forest areas. They are solitary and nocturnal and can be seen in the morning and late in the afternoon. They feed on fruits, roots, fungi, insects, small vertebrates, and eggs. Their hind-footprint marks three open and elongated toes. The third toe is larger than the others. The trail fore-footprint marks two parallel and close digits. Their footprints can be up to 3.5 cm long and 3 cm wide.


OCELOT – Leopardus pardalis

Ocelots are a medium-sized species, approximately 80 cm long, and weigh around 11 kg. They are lonely animals that live mainly in forest areas. They have nocturnal habits and feed on small rodents. Their footprint features a rounded pad and four toes without claw marks, with length ranging from 4 to 5 cm and width from 4.5 to 5.5 cm. Their fore-footprint is larger than the hind-footprint, much like the jaguar marks, but smaller.


VEADO-MATEIRO Mazama Americana

RED BROCKET – Mazama americana

This deer weighs more than 40 kg and is about 1 to 1.5 m long. It inhabits dense woods and avoids open areas. It feeds on grasses, fruits, flowers, and fungi. It lives alone or in a couple, and is more active at dusk and during the night. Its footprint is triangular and shows the mark of two hooves that can appear united or separated. Their trail is 4 to 4.8 cm long and 3 to 4.5 cm wide.


QUATI - Nasua nasua


Ring-tailed coatis are a medium-sized species and weigh up to 7 kg. They live in bands with more than 20 animals, preferably in areas of forests, but can also be seen in cerrado areas. They are diurnal animals that feed on fruits, eggs, insects, larvae, worms and small birds and snakes. Their footprint features five thin, elongated toes with claw marks, ranging from 4 to 11 cm in length and 3.5 to 5 cm in width. Their hind-footprint is larger than the fore-footprint. Adult animals have claw marks slightly curved towards the animal’s footprint trail.


TATU-PEBA Euphractus sexcinctus

SIX-BANDED ARMADILLO – Euphractus sexcinctus

This armadillo species is approximately 50 cm long and weighs up to 6 kg. It lives in areas of varied vegetation, preferring open and dry places. It feeds on plants, insects, small vertebrates and even carrion. It is a solitary, nocturnal animal. It spends the day inside the burrow, from which he only leaves occasionally. Its fore-footprint presents three toes with claw marks. Its hind-footprint presents three toes, with the two internal toes facing the animal’s track. Its footprint is 2 to 2.5 cm long and 4 cm wide.


IRARA Eira Barbara

TAYRA – Eira barbara

Tayras measure up to 1 m in length, including their tail, and weigh between 4 and 5 kg. They have diurnal and nocturnal habits and are solitary animals, but they can be observed in pairs. They inhabit forests and feed on small animals, mainly rats, insects, birds, as well as fruits and honey. The tayra’s footprint features five rounded toeprints, close to each other with well-defined claw marks. Their hind-footprint is 8 cm long and 5 cm wide, smaller than the fore-footprint. Their pad is well defined and elongated.





This medium-sized animal weighs up to 45 kg and lives in forest areas, but is often seen in open areas. It feeds on fruits, seeds, shoots, roots, leaves and even small animals. Active during the day and at dusk, it lives in groups with up to more than 100 individuals. The white-lipped peccary’s footprints are rounded and draw slightly separated hooves. Their hoove’s width, about 4 to 5 cm, is approximately half the length. Because peccaries live in large groups, it is common to observe several footprints together, creating a well-marked trail.


Content extracted from the flyer Identificando mamíferos da Floresta de transição Amazônia-Cerrado [How to identify mammals from the Amazon-Cerrado Transition Forest]
* The size of the animals in the drawings does not correspond to the real proportionality between them.

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