Many kids love to look for animal tracks. When it snows, you might say, "Look at those tracks in the snow. What animal was hopping or running here recently?" If you are walking in the woods or the park, you may see animal tracks in the mud. It is easy to learn about animal tracks and how to identify them. This is a fun hobby for many kids, and you may want to research more about the animals or the habitats you were exploring when you are finished identifying animal tracks.
Research the common animals in your community or the environment where you will be exploring. For example, if you are going to look for animal tracks in your backyard, you may want to research footprints of dogs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, and raccoons, depending on where you live. When you are doing your research, you can use the Internet or a library book to see what an animal's footprint usually looks like.
Draw sketches, make copies, or print out pictures of the animal tracks that you want to look for in your yard or in the park. You may want to make copies and draw sketches, so you are more familiar with what the tracks look like. Put these copies in a folder or backpack, so you can refer to them when you are outside looking for tracks. It is easier for kids to learn about animal tracks if they have examples to look at when they are outside.
Go to the spot that you want to explore and look for tracks. You may want to bring a camera, pencil and sketch pad, as well as the other items listed in Step 2. It is easiest to look for tracks in freshly fallen snow or in a muddy yard. Animal tracks are harder to find in dirt and grass.
Find a track and try to identify it. Ask yourself questions like, "What is the shape of the print?" "Is it large or small?" "Are the toes separated or together?" "Do I see claw marks or just footprints?" When you have the answers to your questions, try to guess which animal left the track. Then remove your sample animal track printouts from your backpack, and compare your results with the track on the ground. If you guessed the track was left by a squirrel, does the track on the ground match the squirrel's track in the photo?
Take a picture or draw a sketch of any animal track you cannot identify. Then when you get back to your house or to the library, you can research and try to find the name of the animal who left this mystery track. You can also do more research on the animal tracks you found by discovering what the animal likes to eat or places where it usually lives and so on.
Things you need
- animal track books
- photographs of animal tracks