No. 34 Discover wild animal clues
There are lots of different things to look for when you're on the trail of an animal or bird. If you keep quiet and an eye out for footprints, feathers, fur and poo and you might find something sooner than you think. Discover wild animal clues is no. 34 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ challenge.
Are you ready?
You'll need sharp eyes and keen ears for this challenge, as discovering wild animal clues can be tricky. Keep your eyes peeled on the floor and in the trees around you and listen out to see if you can hear the animals, birds or mini beasts you're looking for. Keeping quiet as can be is a good idea too, so you don’t scare any animals away.
It's probably best to wear trainers or boots so you can follow the trail wherever it takes you.
What to look out for
Remember, animals don't wear shoes, so their footprints all look very different. From a horse's hoof to a rabbit's paw, learn what you're looking for, and what their prints look like.
A spotter sheet for animal prints may help you too just in case you see some prints you don't recognise – are you following a yeti?
If there are footprints, can you work out which way they are going?
Poo or sick
If it hasn't recently rained and there's no muddy ground to track footprints, you can also follow other clues like droppings (poo) or pellets which owls vomit up once they've eaten.
Fur and feathers
Other clues about animals living near where you're looking for them can include fur or wool caught on fences, or feathers on the ground. In spring, look out for broken eggshells on the ground which can alert you to the fact that there’s a bird's nest in a tree above.
Holes are another good starting place as they could be homes for rabbits or badgers. Molehills – little piles of earth on grassy fields –usually show you where a mole has been tunnelling.
You don't need to discover big animals like sheep or cows, as finding smaller animals is just as much fun. In the same way as you see molehills, little casts of soil on the top of a garden can show you that worms live in the soil and are doing their wormy thing beneath the ground. You can also search through grass or gardens to find ants and watch them going about their daily lives.
To ensure you can complete your ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities safely, here are some top tips to help you complete your challenges with safety in mind.
Download the full ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activity list.
Search for clues to the life of animals and plants from the past. Fossil and bone hunting is mammoth family fun – and it's No. 26 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.
Lend a helping hand to the animals and birds that live near you by making sure they have food to eat and a place to sleep. It’s no. 43 of our ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’.