Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mammal Tracking

You may remember that last year we helped John Ryder, of Woodcraft School, in collecting some mammal tracks of our collection of British animals... John was extremely pleased with what he was able to get here, that he returned coupled of weeks a go to attempt to get some more, even better tracks!

Can you guess what animal left the footprint above?

Woodcraft School are professional suppliers of bushcraft, natural history and wildlife experiences. They run and teach courses that can run from a day event, to courses that span over months, all aimed at a variety of skill levels. This is such a great idea, and a brilliant way to get people interested in nature and tracking be it on an enthusiasts level or a professional level working with animals as a profession.

Below is a video from their website about mammal tracks, using some of the tracks we obtained for them last time John was here.

Please do spend the time to have a look at their website, it really is quite interesting and includes another video which we helped with in our small, unique way... supplying a few mammal droppings!

Anyway, back to a couple of weeks a go, and John's main focus was on our mustelids. Lucy helped him out for a day focusing on our polecats, stoats and weasels and took a few pics along the way.

To attempt to get a footprint, John used different mediums... with soft moon sand appearing to be the most successful with our smaller mustelids. Placing this in the enclosure, in a place where the animal had to walk over it, was the way to go... and a little patience to allow the animal to get used to this new contraption soon led to the natural curiosity of wanting to explore.

The next step was to take a record of the footprint next to a gauge to show of the size. Also recorded was the gait of the animal which can tell a lot as to which animal left it behind.

It has been great fun working with John on this project, and we hope this will continue to build a link between ourselves and Woodcraft School. I think John has plans to take this tracking even further, and if we can we will be happy to help him build a collection of accurate British mammal tracks!

Oh, and the footprint at the top... it was of our hedgehog, Timone. Well done to anyone who guessed right!

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