How to Learn About Animal Tracks for Kids

How to Learn About Animal Tracks for Kids
A child can have an enjoyable time learning about animal tracks. The nature of this activity allows it to take place over time and at various locations in the outdoors. With the supervision of an adult and a field guide to animal tracks kids can learn how to identify the animal tracks they encounter in their outdoor travels.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Field guide to animal tracks
  • Field guide to animal tracks
Step 1
Purchase a field guide to the tracks of the animals that live in your region. Take time each week to read a few pages and memorize some of the tracks in it. Become familiar with those animals that live where you live.
Step 2
Go outdoors and search for animal tracks. It is not important at this point to identify the track. Look in sandy areas close to home and carefully examine wherever there is mud. If possible, go to a local river or stream with an adult and walk along the banks. Many types of animal tracks exist close to running water.
Step 3
Determine which direction the tracks are heading. Study any tracks you find closely. Try to make out the toes and see if the animal left claw marks in the track. Make an effort to figure out which track is a front foot and which track is a back foot. Follow each set of tracks you discover as far as you can before losing the animal's trail.
Step 4
Visualize in your mind what the animal that left the track was doing at the time. Look around at the area where you found the tracks. Try to picture if the animal was getting a drink, hunting, running or walking. Look for any other signs and markings associated with the tracks. For example, an animal that was successful at hunting may have left bits of fur, feather or bone behind.
Step 5
Wait for the first light snowfall and walk in the woods. Examine all the tracks you find. Bring your field guide with you and attempt to identify some of the tracks by matching what you find with the pictures and diagrams in the guide. Focus on the clearest tracks you can find. Remember, though, that very few animals will leave behind a "perfect" set of tracks.
Step 6
Count the number of toes in each track. Remember that this is the single most helpful factor when identifying animal tracks. For example, four toes found on the front foot and five toes found on the back mean a rodent left the track. Once you know what sort of animal a track belongs to you will have an easier time narrowing down the exact creature that left it with your field guide.
Step 7
Use online animal-track websites to understand more about animal tracks. One very good site is EEK, which stands for Environmental Education for Kids. Another is Bear Tracker's Animal Track Den, which shows tracks and pictures of the animals that made them along with information about the animals. Combining these sites with your field guide will help you to learn much about animal tracks.

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