You have purchased a new thermal scope and ready to hit the fields at night. You have seen all the shooting videos on YouTube and ready to show them up with your awesome shooting skills. You get out of your truck and see a pig eating in the harvested peanut field. After shooting three times and getting excited, you walk up to it only to find the remnants of an opossum. This story actually happened and I had a good laugh but depending on the Thermal you get; target identification can be tricky.
Let’s say your pig shooting and you have a 300-acre field. If an animal is in the middle of the field with no trees or bushes to judge size with, a 5lb opossum looks very similar to a 150lb boar. The trick to identifying the animal is all in their behavior. If you watch an animal for a few minutes you will notice they have their own habits. A deer will always lift their head above their shoulders within 1-3 min intervals. Opossums and Armadillos both can look like pigs until they walk, they have a strange waddle that cannot be mistaken. Pigs in a Sounder group are easy to spot from far away because you have big and small pigs mixed together. I still like to watch them for about a minute to make sure they are not deer.
Coyote and Foxes are much harder to differentiate. Here in Georgia we have small coyotes, and at a distance they look identical to a fox. They both walk and run similar and come to the same calls most of the time. The best way to tell the difference in my experience, is their tail and the ground clearance. The tail on a fox has more hair and seems to block some of the body heat making the tail look skinny and colder than the body. Coyotes will be the same temperature throughout its body and have a longer stride when it runs in. If you are shooting in knee high grass or vegetation you will have a very difficult time with identification by just the head.
The thermal scope I used for these snapshots was an Armasight Zeus Pro 640 50MM