Whose tiny feet are these?

28 Jun 2023 By WildTrack

If you want to know who is running around in the woods under your feet, try Track Plates!

These cheap and simple devices allow us to identify who left the prints. Not only that, but they are so easy to use that Louisa Appel, an innovative Learning Support Assistant from Four Marks C of E Primary School in Hampshire UK, figured they would make a great way to get her class interested in wildlife! Here’s what Louisa has to say:

“As a Forest School Leader (in training) I wanted to try and encourage the kids to take an interest, and in turn respect, for the woods we use. I also wanted to know for myself what animals we have, that we don’t have the opportunity to see. 

In order to do this, we made track tunnels from cardboard. On a separate cardboard insert we placed paper at each end and then put a plastic tray between the pieces of paper. In the gaps on either side of the tray we put down strips of masking tape and painted them with food grade charcoal powder mixed with vegetable oil. We then put cat food on the plastic tray, put the inserts back into the tunnels and put them around the woods. The next day the tunnels were checked for prints. The idea being, the animals are attracted by the food and walk over the charcoal paint to get to the food. Then when they leave, they cross over the paper and hopefully we can then see their charcoal foot prints. The charcoal paint shouldn’t harm the animals if they lick it off their feet as it is food safe. Each week we place them in different parts of the woods to see if we get tracks from different animals. It is such a simple, yet fun and exciting way to get to know our wildlife”

And guess what? Our footprint identification technology (FIT) in JMP software (see below) shows that the prints were made by bank voles (Clethrionomys glareolus). No trapping, no handlling, no disturbance! Great job Louisa and class of Four Marks C of E Primary School!