Making an animal track plot is a really exciting way to get outdoors, find out about what creatures live near you and to learn animal tracking skills. If you live near a nature reserve or you know of a few creatures that like to visit your yard you can set up a track plot just about anywhere you find dirt. Best of all it’s really fun and only takes 20 minutes to set up.
What you’ll need to find animal tracks:
- Sifter – This type works well
How to set up an animal track plot:
- Clear away about one square meter of sticks and leaves until you get to the soil underneath.
- Dig up the dirt but try to keep the soil fairly level. Put the dirt in a bucket.
- Put the dirt from the bucket into the sifter and sift away.
- Try to spread a nice level layer of dust (1 cm – 1.5 cm deep) all around the square meter.
6. Leave the plot over night and come back in the morning. You may just find some awesome little animal tracks. We found tracks on our plot every morning.
Helpful hints to get the most out of your animal track plot
- Put a little piece of apple in the middle of the plot (you’re bound to get some footprints). It can also help you to identity the tracks because you can be pretty certain a herbivore took the apple!
- Get a scat and track book from your local library to help you identify the tracks. A ruler and magnifying glass will be really useful too.
- If you want to attract a carnivore, you can dig a deep hole below the surface of the dirt and lure them to the plot with the smell of rotting meat. It’s also a good idea to make the plot bigger so that if they dig the meat up, they won’t destroy all the track evidence with the mess.
- We haven’t done it yet but we will be making plaster casts of some of the more rare footprints we find. They’ll make a great little memento to the activity!
We found possum, scrub turkey, rat and even bandicoot tracks on our plots. It was so much fun. Miss Possum really enjoyed guessing what animal made the tracks and checking the book we had as a reference. It’s so easy to do too.
I think we’ll keep our plot going a little longer and perhaps try for a carnivore in a couple of nights time. It really does feel like Christmas, running down to check our animal track plot each morning. If you have animal-mad kids, you really must try this!
Have you ever found animal tracks before?