Identifying Animal Footprints and Paw Prints
You don't have to be in the deep forest to be an animal tracker. Animal footprints are often as close as your backyard or garden. But the best prints can be found in the woods and swamps because of the amount of wildlife out there.
How to Track Animals and Identify Animal Tracks
Tracking is something that you learn by doing. Get out there, be safe and look around! Here are a few tips:
Animal tracks are easiest to find in mud, soft or loose soil, sand, and snow (any soft surface).
Study the ground closely. Get down on your hands and knees.
Note the size of the track and determine if it shows claw marks.
Take measurements, photos or a video of the footprint(s) from every angle to help you to determine what animal made the print. (Cast the print if you think it’s interesting and want to keep a copy of it)
Track early in the morning or late in the day when shadows make prints easier to see.
Watch for animal droppings called scat. The scat will also help you to track the animal. If it’s dry all the way through, the tracks may have been left a while ago. (Scat can also tell you if you’re tracking a vegetarian or a meat eater).
If you lose the trail, search in a circle around the track until you pick up the trail again.
The most important tip of all: Have fun, be aware of your surroundings and don’t get lost!