Animal tracks are evidence for the presence of animals in an area. Even if the animal is elusive and sneaky, or active mostly at night. They all leave behind tracks.
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Many of us have bird feeders in our backyard so birds will come close enough for us to see them well. We observe them through our windows, and some birds will even stick around the feeders while we are outside.
What other animals do you observe in your backyard? Right now, I see a couple rabbits and a squirrel. Here in the Midwest, those are the most common visitors to our backyards besides the birds. I happen to know that other animals visit our yard when we can’t see them. Some visit when the yard is quiet and they are very sneaky. Others visit under cover of night.
How can you tell what animals visit your yard? Look for evidence. Look for animal tracks!
But, wait! Our backyard is all grass. How can I find track in the grass?
We have to make a track trap!
Making A Trap For Animal Tracks
This is an easy, backyard project for all ages that uses supplies you probably already have at home. You can do this project over and over and keep a journal of your results (or use something like these nature observation printables.)
Animal Track Trap Supplies
- baking tray
- garden trowel or large spoon
- 2 small plates or bowls
- fruits, veggies, nuts, bread, etc.
Animal Track Trap Procedure
Using the garden trowel, scoop enough sand into the baking tray to cover the bottom. Add a small amount of water to dampen the sand. Smooth the sand with the garden trowel.
Add fruit, veggies, nuts, and bread to one plate or bowl. Add water to the other. Place the containers on the tray. This is the bait.
You have now created your animal track trap. Place the trap in a quiet spot in your yard. Leave the trap overnight. Check the trap for tracks in the morning. Sketch or take a photo of the tracks that are left by the animal visitors. Smooth the sand over the tracks and refill the containers, if necessary. Check the trap again in the afternoon and once again sketch or photograph the tracks. Sometimes animals will leave another bit of evidence in the trap – scat! Don’t be grossed out. It’s a clue!!
Use an animal track guide book to determine who left each of the tracks (or scat). I bet you’ll be surprised! For even more fun, leave the trap our over a longer period of time checking each morning and late afternoon or evening. Vary the food left for bait and see if that makes a difference in who visits your trap.
Animal Track Guides
- Tracks, Scat, and Signs – This is a simple guide for all ages. It includes both tracks and scat of common North American wildlife.
- Folding Pocket Guide To Tracks & Signs of Familiar North American Species (Pocket Naturalist Guide Series) – I love all the guides in the Pocket Naturalist Guide Series. These are laminated, foldable and made to go outside with you!
- Peterson Field Guide To Animal Tracks – You just can’t go wrong with a Peterson Field Guide! This is going to more comprehensive that the above guides. This is the one to have for the long haul and if you plan on traveling to different parts of the country.