Our guide to...Deciphering Mammal Tracks and Signs
This is your chance to become a nature detective! Many mammals are shy and difficult to find – but they leave plenty of signs behind, like footprints, tufts of hair and burrows. You can use these clues to find out which species are visiting your local area.
Activities to Try:
- Find and identify clues of mammal activity in your garden, local woodland or nature reserve
- Go for a dusk walk and see if you can spot any nocturnal mammals, like hedgehogs, foxes and badger
Equipment to Borrow:
To make finding mammal tracks easier, you could borrow our mammal footprint tunnel!
- Place a tempting morsel (like cat food or dog food) into the tunnel
- Leave the tunnel overnight in your garden
- The tunnel contains ink pads (with non-toxic ink) and a sheet of recording paper
- Small mammals walk over the ink-pads into the tunnel to snack on the food, leaving ink prints on a sheet of tracking paper for you to collect in the morning
TCV’s Mammal Signs guide: a pictorial introduction to feeding signs, droppings and burrows of local mammals
TCV’s Mammal Tracks and Trails guide: a more in-depth introduction to tracks and signs, including large mammals like badgers and roe deer
Naturehood’s Hedgehog Spotter Guide: an introduction to identifying tracks left in a mammal footprint tunnel (including hedgehog and other small mammal prints)
Top Tips for Deciphering Mammal Tracks and Signs:
- Know what to look out for before you set off: tufts of hair, droppings, burrows, nibbled branches and prints. This way, you’re more likely to find clues.
- Take your time! You’ll need to really look at our surroundings to find tracks and signs. This is a great opportunity to tune out a busy life and focus on nature for a while.
- Take photographs of what you find, so you have a reference to help you identify signs when you get home. Try to include something to indicate the size of the clue, like your foot or hand – or you could even take a small ruler out on your adventures!
- If you’re limited in mobility or want to stay in your garden, using a mammal footprint tunnel is a great way of getting involved in mammal recording. You might be surprised by what you find right outside your door!
We'd love to hear from you...
Get in touch with your findings and let us know what you've seen!
07595 655 174
RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve
Largs Road, Lochwinnoch,
Renfrewshire, PA12 4JF