Spoor (animal)

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Footprints of the extinct thylacine

Spoor is any sign of a creature or trace by which the progress of someone or something may be followed. A spoor may include tracks, scents, scat, or broken foliage. Spoor is useful for discovering or surveying what types of animals live in an area, or in animal tracking.

The word originated c. 1823, from Afrikaans spoor, from Middle Dutch spor, which is cognate with Old English spor "footprint, track, trace" and modern English language spurn (as in ankle).[1] It is cognate also with spur, the metal tool on the heels of riding boots.

Generally droppings can be referred to as scat. Certain scat are called different things; rabbit scat are normally called rabbit pellets, while ungulate scat is referred to as droppings or manure.

Spoor can be used in hunting. For example, a hunter can stick their finger in an animal's scat to measure its temperature. If the scat is cold, the animal is likely far and if the scat is warm, the animal is likely close.[citation needed]

By analogy, in politics, "to look carefully on the spoor in the trails" means to investigate what is actually going on in a sensitive situation.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. ^ Alan S. Chartock (April 15, 2013). "The only way out of this mess is term limits". Legislative Gazette. p. 4. Retrieved April 23, 2013.