February 15, 2022

Parks & Trails Fun Quiz: February 2022

Winter Wildlife in Minnesota

What happens with Minnesota’s wildlife in winter? Test your knowledge of how animals survive in Minnesota parks and trails during winter.


#1. Between these two similar animals, which one turns white in the winter?

The Snowshoe Hare turns white in winter!

Minnesota is home to three kinds of rabbits/hares that look similar. Both the Snowshoe Hare and White-tailed Jackrabbit turn white in winter, although the White-tailed Jackrabbit’s fur is a mottled white.

White hare in the snow

Photo by Dave Doe/Flickr CC

Tracks in the snow

#2. Which animal made these tracks?

These are River Otter tracks!

River Otters often hop and slide through the snow, seemingly embracing the joys of winter.


#3. Which animal made these tracks?

These are Snowshoe Hare tracks!

All three of the rabbits/hares that live in Minnesota (Cottontail, Whitetail Jackrabbit and Snowshoe Hare) make very similar tracks with just minor size differences. Notice that the front, larger prints are actually the hind legs that jump ahead of the front paws.

Photo by https://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/winter-wildlife-tracking/

#4. Which animal made these tracks?

These are Whitetail Deer tracks!

These deer make heart-shaped prints with their hoofs that follow a neat line when they walk. The hind hoof falls directly into the print created by the fore hoof.

#5. Between these two similar animals, which one turns white in the winter?

A white weasel jumping and twisting in air with pink mouth open

Photo by National Park Service

The Short-tailed Weasel turns white in winter!

Minnesota has three kinds of weasels (Short-tailed, Long-tailed and Least Weasel) that all turn white in winter.

Minks and Weasels look similar, but Minks are larger and only have white on their chin, while weasels have white or yellowish bellies (and turn fully white in winter).

In the photo below the weasel is performing a “war dance” to distract its prey. Check out this National Geographic video to learn more about this dance.

Photos in quiz by
Stacy Studebaker/USFWS [weasel]
Jimmy Rollins/P&TC photo contest [mink]

#6. Which statement about snowy owls is FALSE (choose one)?

The FALSE statement is that snowy owls turn brown in summer!

Snowy owls actually stay white all year. The photo shows a female Snowy Owl with dark bands.

Photo by Jongsun Lee, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

#7. True or False: Steam rising from a beaver lodge is a good sign beavers are living inside.


Even though you likely won’t see many beavers in winter, they are staying active within their lodges, which are usually occupied by a family group. They often swim out through an underwater entrance and forage for vegetation in the water. The lodge rarely dips below freezing thanks to their body heat and good insulation.