How to learn about animal tracks – Outdoors Kids

How to  learn about animal tracks – Outdoors Kids

There’s a lot to learn about animal tracks. Tracks tell you what animal was there was before you. You can tell which way the animal came from and the direction it was going when it left. Did the tracks appear out of no where? It might have been a bird. Can you see toenails? Then it’s probably a canine (dog, fox, coyote). No claws? Cats retract their claws when they’re walking. You’ll probably find pet dog and cat tracks easily by taking a walk on your street. It’s a good place to start, especially since the street sweepers have been out yet.

The Secretary of State has a great chart of tracks on its Maine Kids website. You can make a list of the animals you find in your yard, the park and anywhere else you go. You can right click on each imagine to open it individually.

Things to think about while identifying tracks:

  • Size: is the track big (like a moose) or small (like a deer)

    animal tracks, moose track vs deer track

    Moose on the left, deer on the right

  • What lives in the area? Do you see squirrels, chipmunks, fox, red and gray squirrels? What else could it be?
  • Is there soft soil, sand or mud to look in?
raccoon tracks, animal tracks

Using the chart linked to above, can you identify these tracks? Hint: One back and one front foot.

If you don’t have soft soil, mud or sand you can set up a track trap. Dust an area with flour! If a squirrel runs up and down a tree, dust around the base of the tree. How about beneath the bird feeder for mice, squirrels and birds? There are a lot of meadow voles around my house. I could probably find a vole super highway between the garden shed and barn. You might find raccoon or skunk tracks near the shed or barn.

Kids usually like to find a lot of tracks more than they like big tracks.

What did you find? If you’d like to share pictures of your kids while they’re looking for tracks, the tracks they found or something else they did while looking, please email them to me! Share as much or little as you’re comfortable with sharing in a newspaper.

Robin Follette

About Robin Follette

Maine Press Association award winner, 2013. Robin's Outdoors, Bangor Daily News, third place in Sports blogs. I grew up with a fishing pole in my hand and have always loved the outdoors. From gardening to hunting and fishing, kayaking, camping, hiking and foraging, most of my time is spent outdoors. I teach outdoor skills as a volunteer instructor for Hooked On Fishing - Not On Drugs and Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. Pro-staff at The Limb Grip. My personal blog is here. I'm currently working on my first book, a collection of short stories based on my outdoors experiences.