Tracks and signs

Wildlife can be very mysterious! It'll take a top nature detective to get to the bottom of it. Can you help solve this wild case?

Some wildlife can be extremely hard to see. Many creatures only come out at night, or they may be very shy and hide from us.

 

But most animals leave behind clues to tell us where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing. Anything from fallen feathers and fur to footprints and even poo can tell us a story. It just takes a little practise to know where to look!

 

The good news is that by spotting them and working out what they mean, we can follow an exciting story of what’s going on out there.

 

So what did happen last night? Use your new-found detective skills to find out. Show us how you got on and take another bold step towards completing your Wild Challenge!

Are you doing this activity as part of your Wild Challenge? Take a look at your progress and go for gold!

 

Did you know Hopping animals like rabbits and squirrels land with their bigger back feet ahead of their smaller front feet leaving interesting tracks.

214

people have completed this activity

What you will need

  • Something to photograph your clues, or a bag or box to put them in
  • A magnifying glass or lens can be helpful if you have one
  • A deerstalker hat and mustachioed side-kick (optional)
  • Paper and pens
  • Animal tracker (optional)

Step-by-step

  1. If you've made an animal tracker, check to see what footprints are left behind. See if you can identify them using our handy animal track guide.
  2. Go for a slow walk and look for clues. You could start in your own garden, or try a path through a wild place. Pay particular attention to muddy spots where animals might leave their footprints.
  3. Walk slowly, and look around very carefully. Can you find feathers, egg shells, animal tracks, hairs caught on fences? Nibbled seeds or nuts? Maybe even some animal poo (don’t pick it up though) will be a clue.
  4. Try to work out what’s been going on – maybe a badger squeezed under a fence and left some trapped hairs, or a deer walked across the path and left its tracks. Can you follow where it went next?
  5. If you'd like to take a closer look, a sturdy magnifying glass is a good addition to your kit and will let you see the hidden details in your evidence.
  6. Remember to wash your hands if you’ve been handling some of those messy clues.
  7. Don't forget to tell us when you have completed the activity! When you mark the activity as complete, you will be asked to upload a photo, drawing, painting or a piece of writing talking about your experience to help earn your award.

Completing the activity

Use the 'Mark as complete' button at the top of this page to tell us you've completed your activity. You'll need to show us what you did by uploading a photo of what you saw or your family on the look out! Alternatively, draw or paint what you saw or upload a piece of writing talking about your experience.

Make an animal tracker

Find out what has been out at night while you’ve been fast asleep!

You will need

  • Baking tray
  • Small plank or long ruler
  • Fine, damp sand
  • Small, shallow dish
  • Dog or cat food
  1. Fill the tray with sand and smooth the surface with the edge of the plank or ruler. 
  2. Put a little pet food in the dish and stick it in the middle of the tray
  3. Leave your tracker out overnight and see the next day if anything has left its footprints there. Throw the pet food away in the morning, before it goes bad.
Levelling sand in container
Make the sand flat with a ruler
Putting a little pet food in dish in centre of tracker
Put a little pet food in the dish
Completed tracker showing sample tracks
Check the tray in the morning

Completed an activity? Share your picture

Use #wildchallenge