Tracks are not shown to scale. Measurements shown in inches. Who Goes There: Identifying Animal Tracks CENTIMETERS Tracking Tips: INCHES 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Start early, when tracks are freshest. Many animals are CENTIMETERS INCHES nocturnal, which means they were busy making tracks at How to Make Your Very Own night. Others are most active at dawn. Folding Tracking Ruler Once you find a track, carefully look around to see if you 1. Cut out each ruler. DO NOT cut off the blank square at can find more. Tracks tell a story. Each individual track the end. That is where you will be connecting your tells just a tiny piece of the story. The more pieces you two rulers to make one folding Tracking Ruler. have, the more you can learn about the animal’s habits.
INCHES Be careful not to step on the tracks you are observing. Not CENTIMETERS only does it make it harder to decode the track mystery, but the track is no longer around for others to find. 2. Stack your two rulers, marking-side up, with the punched holes (shown here as a black dot in the When searching for tracks, it helps to know where to blank square at the end of the ruler) line up. look! The clearest tracks are left in mud, sand, damp soil, 3. Push your metal fastener through the holes in both and snow. your Check library for about identifying books tracks! rulers. Identifying Your Track – What to Look For: 4. Turn the rulers, with the fastener inserted, over. SIZE: Use your Tracking Ruler to measure the length and Separate the two legs of the fastener, then press the width of the track. For many mammals, the front feet are legs apart and push them down snugly against the larger because they support more of the animal’s weight. backside of the rulers. You may need to ask an adult Can you think of a mammal with hind feet larger than its front? for help to get the fastener nice and snug. 3 The size of the track will help you distinguish between 5. Bend the legs of the similar animals of different sizes, like bobcats and mountain fastener so that they 2 lions, or foxes and coyotes. stay tucked behind
your Tracking Ruler. 1 SHAPE: Look at the overall shape of METAL FASTENER the track. Count the number of toes. Length 6. Your Tracking Ruler should be able to swivel
Are there visible claw marks? Distance from heel to toe CENTIMETERS INCHES so that you can CENTIMETERS
Animals in the dog family and those (not including claws) measure in inches or INCHES in the cat family all have claws, but centimeters, and so Width cats claws are retractable so they do you can swivel it closed when not in use. tuck in those legs! Spread of the not usually show up in their tracks. individual track 7. Now let’s go outside and get tracking!