How to Make Copies of Animal Tracks

How to Make Copies of Animal Tracks
If you find an animal track that is relatively whole and in good shape then you may want to make a copy of the track with plaster to capture the imprint. It can be difficult to find a perfect track but even one that is mostly whole can make for an interesting cast. Follow these steps to make a copy of a track you find.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Plaster of Paris water mixing container spoon 14x3 strip of cardboard large paperclip
  • Plaster of Paris
  • water
  • mixing container
  • spoon
  • 14x3 strip of cardboard
  • large paperclip
Step 1
Build a wall around the track you have found with the strip of cardboard from your casting kit and clip it with the large paperclip so that it stays put. Do this with care as you do not want to touch the track at all. When you are sure that no part of the cardboard will touch the track, gently push the cardboard into the ground a bit so that the plaster cannot leak out from under it.
Step 2
Mix two parts plaster to one part water in your mixing container--perhaps an old water jug with the top cut off or a bucket. Use a plastic spoon or clean stick to mix the ingredients until it is like a thick batter.
Step 3
Work quickly throughout the whole process. Once the plaster is fully mixed and smooth, pour the plaster onto the ground next to the track inside the barrier you created with the cardboard walls. Pouring it to the side of the track lets it gently ooze into the track instead of putting pressure directly on the track and possibly altering it. Pour until the entire track is covered and the plaster fills the entire area within the cardboard circle. The plaster should be quite thick so that it has less chance of breaking.
Step 4
Let the plaster set and dry for 30 to 40 minutes. Just after you pour the plaster you may wish to set fine wire mesh on the back of it for reinforcement, but do this fast before the plaster sets.
Step 5
Softly touch the back of the plaster cast after 30 to 40 minutes and see if it feels dry. If it does feel dry, try gently knocking on it with your knuckles. If it sounds ceramic then it is ready to pull up.
Step 6
Pull it up by reaching your hand under it and not from one side or the other. This helps prevent cracking. Let it dry for at least 48 more hours before trying to clean it up. After a couple of days you can clean it by gently brushing and rinsing it. You may wish to paint it white to see the true shape of the print without any debris.

Article Written By Naomi Judd

Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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