| Story by Meghan McMahon |
Sometimes, our eyes play tricks on us. This can especially be true when outside enjoying the great outdoors, where there is so much to take in. Have you ever looked up and spotted clouds in the form of a heart or another well-known shape? Or been on a hike and mistaken a tree root for a snake or a fallen log for a bear or another animal?
And sometimes it’s not that our eyes are playing tricks on us, but that two or more animals do look alike or are often confused from one another. Take chipmunks and 13-lined ground squirrels. They have similar appearances, habitats and behaviors, so confusion between the two is to be expected. The key to telling them apart is their stripes. A ground squirrel’s stripes end at its neck, while a chipmunk’s extend up onto its head.
Another common case of mistaken identity: muskrats and beavers. They have similar-colored fur and inhabit the same areas, so being able to tell them apart can be tricky. Some good rules of thumb: Beavers have wide, flat tails, while muskrats have longer, skinnier tails, according to the Washington Post. Plus, you can usually see the entire body of a muskrat while it swims, but when beavers swim only their heads are usually visible. Beavers are also much larger than muskrats.
Many times, we assume the worst about a creature, thinking it is something much more dangerous than it really is. Case in point: The vast majority of spiders aren’t dangerous to humans, and the same goes for snakes. Other times, we simply think that animals that we know of are present right here in Will County when they aren’t, although some look-alikes may be.
Here’s a closer look at some other animals in Illinois that are often thought to be something else entirely and some tips for knowing what is what.