Animal Signs Field Guide

During the month of December,my family will be using the Animal Signs NaturExplorers unit. Finding signs of animals and tracks are rather easy this time of year with much of the land and trees “uncovered” by the Lord. The most difficult part of studying animal signs for me is recognizing animal tracks. So many look similar to one another!

Finding a good field guide for studying animals tracks can be more difficult than you might imagine. I want to highlight the Peterson Field Guide to Animal Tracks as the best one I’ve found on the subject thus far.

There’s a quick picture guide in the beginning of the book to help you make an initial guess at the track you’re viewing. Several animal tracks are shown together which helps you make a quick comparison of several possible tracks to the one you’re trying to identify.

After you believe you’ve found the right track, a page number is referenced to find more detailed pictures, sketches and information about the animal that made the track. Approximate track lengths and widths are given, as well as the distance between feet and the animal’s typical stride.

Depending on the animal, you may find sketches of other signs such as scat (poop), nests/burrows, marks they make as they gnaw on food, or foods they typically eat.

A written section continues to explain the animal’s habitat, behaviors, foods and even the sounds they make, as well as comparisons to animals that might make similar tracks.

Sections of the book include:

  • opossums
  • shrews
  • moles
  • armadillos
  • pikas, hares and rabbits
  • rodents
  • dogs, foxes and wolves
  • bears
  • hair seals and eared seals
  • raccoons, ringtails and coatis
  • weasels, otters and badgers
  • skunks
  • cats
  • hoofed animals
  • birds
  • amphibians and reptiles
  • insects and other invertebrates

Even though it’s compact enough to fit in your nature bag, you can see that A LOT of animals are covered in 391 pages! There’s even a handy centimeter/inch ruler built into the back cover to help you make track determinations in the field.

You can find all the other Peterson Field Guides by subject at Houghlton Mifflin’s website.

Racoon prints in mud at the edge of a creek
Raccoon prints in mud at the edge of a creek

What do you use for animal track/animal sign identification?

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