Footprints and Tracks
Hoof and foot prints can be helpful pest animal identifiers, whether found on the ground or in tracking tunnels. Some pest species also make recognisable trails, nests and dens, or leave tell-tale mud baths where they have wallowed!
The drawings below show idealised footprints. Prints in the field are usually much less clear and can differ according to such factors as the ground surface (e.g. hard or soft); whether or not it has rained since the prints were made; the age, sex and size of animal; or whether the animal was walking or running. A series of footprints made by an animal as it moves is called a track.
Tracking tunnels record the footprints of smaller animals. These prints can be easier to identify but can also be a smeary mess, especially if several different species have passed through the tunnel.
If an animal or group of animals moves through an area frequently a clear path or groove can be worn on the ground and the animals' movement will keep these trails or runs clear of low branches. Many animals like to sleep or hide in fixed locations called dens. Some animals like to wallow in mud baths to cover themselves in mud.
The clue descriptions below will guide you in considering size, shape and unusual features when tracking pest animals.
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