Difference between revisions of "Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Nature/Animal Tracking"

From Pathfinder Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 621: Line 621:
* ''The Complete Tracker'' by Len McDougall, 1997.  ISBN 156731-326-4
* ''The Complete Tracker'' by Len McDougall, 1997.  ISBN 156731-326-4
[[Category:Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book|{{SUBPAGENAME}}]]

Revision as of 07:48, 17 June 2007

Template:Honor header

1. Know ten kinds of tracks, including two kinds of bird tracks. Make plaster casts of five.

To do this, you will need to bring dry plaster of Paris, water, a mixing container, a mixing stick (a paint stirrer will do nicely), and something to make rings out of. Plaster of Paris can be bought either dry, or ready-mixed. It is probably better to get the dry type so that you can mix it on site. It will need to be soupy to make a detailed cast. When you find a suitable track, place a ring around it. The ring can be made from almost anything - a large tin can with the bottom cut out, a paper cup with the bottom removed, a strip of poster board 4 cm1.5 inches wide and taped together at the ends to form a circle, etc. Make sure the ring is larger than the track, and note that some tracks are 15 cm6 inches long or more. What a pity it would be to find a huge bear or moose track and not have a large enough ring to cast it! You can also make the cast without a ring, but it is much better if you use one. Once the ring is in place, mix just enough plaster and water to fill the ring up to 2.5 cm1 inch deep. It sets quickly, so you will not want to mix up too much at a time. Mix water with the dry plaster and stir it until it is smooth. It should be about the same consistency as pancake batter or apple sauce. Pour it into the ring. Once this is done, you can set out in search of more tracks, or you can wait until the plaster sets. If you set out for more, be sure to come back to collect your cast.

One good way to complete this requirement is by heading to a river right after flooding has receded. There will likely be plenty of easily identifiable kinds of tracks, and the smooth mud makes for excellent casting.

Snow is difficult to cast because it is not nearly as firm as mud. Furthermore, plaster generates heat when it is mixed, and this can easily melt the snow surrounding the track.


Raccoon (Procyon lotor)
Where found: North America
Description: A raccoon is a nocturnal mammal in the genus Procyon of the Procyonidae family. Raccoons are unusual for their thumbs, which – though not opposable – enable them to open many closed containers such as garbage cans and doors. They are intelligent omnivores with a reputation for being clever and mischievous. Raccoons range from 50 to 100 cm in length (including the tail) and weigh between 4.5 and 16 kg. The raccoon's tail ranges from 20 to 40 cm in length. Male raccoons are generally larger than females.

Rabbit (Lagomorpha)
Where found: Many parts of the world
Description: There are several types of rabbits that leave this type of track, including the Eastern Cottontail (shown), Desert Hare, New England Cottontail, Pikas, and many others. Note that the prints in the front (top of the diagram) are from the hind legs, while the forefeet leave the two aligned prints in the rear. As a rabbit hops, it throws its forelegs between its hind legs, thus leaving the print as shown.

White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
Where found: Throughout most of the continental United States, southern Canada, Mexico, Central America and northern portions of South America as far south as Peru.
Description: The deer can be recognised by the characteristic white underside to its tail, which it shows as a signal of alarm by raising the tail during escape. The male (also known as a buck) usually weighs from 130 to 220 pounds (60 to 100 kg) but, in rare cases, animals in excess of 350 pounds (160 kg) have been recorded. The female (doe) usually weighs from 90 to 130 pounds (40 to 60 kg), but some can weigh as much as 165 to 175 pounds (75 or 80 kg). The deer's coat is a reddish-brown in the spring and summer and turns to a grey-brown throughout the fall and winter. Males one year of age or older have antlers. Antlers begin to grow in early spring, covered with a highly vascularised tissue known as velvet.

Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Wapiti (or Elk) (Cervus canadensis)

Moose (Alces alces)

Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)

Beaver (Castor canadensis)

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Wolf (Canis lupus)

Cat (Felis silvestris)

Description: This is, of course, the standard house cat. Note that cats have retractable claws, and they retract them when they walk. You should not find any claw marks in a cat track.

Bobcat/Lynx (Lynx rufus,)

Mouse (Mus musculus)

Horse (Equus caballus)

Cattle (Bos taurus)

Pig (Sus domestica)

Squirrel (Sciuridae)

Mountain Lion (Puma concolor)

Oppossum (Didelphis virginiana)

Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)
Where found: This animal is usually found in coniferous and mixed forested areas in Canada, Alaska and much of the northern and western United States. They are also found in thicketed areas in shrublands, tundra and deserts as far south as northern Mexico. It makes its den in a hole in a tree or in a rocky area.
Description: Porcupines are usually dark brown or black in colour, with white highlights. They have a chunky body, a small face, short legs and a short thick tail. Their upper parts are covered with thousands of sharp, barbed hollow spines or quills, which are used for defense. Porcupines do not throw their quills, but the quills detach easily and the barbs make them difficult to remove once lodged in an attacker. The quills are normally flattened against to the body unless the animal is disturbed. The porcupine also swings its quilled tail towards a perceived threat. Porcupines are mainly active at night; on summer days, they often rest in trees. During the summer, they eat twigs, roots, stems, berries and other vegetation. In the winter, they mainly eat conifer needles and tree bark. They do not hibernate but sleep a lot and stay close to their dens in winter. The strength of the porcupine's defense has given it the ability to live a solitary life, unlike many herbivores.

Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)
Where found: Most of the North American continent north of Mexico
Description: The Striped Skunk has a black body with a white stripe along each side of its body; the two stripes join into a broader white area at the nape. Its forehead has a narrow white stripe. About the size of a house cat, it weighs 6 to 14 pounds (2.7-6.3 kg) with a body length (excluding the tail) of 13 to 18 inches (33-46 cm). The bushy tail is 7 to 10 inches long (18-25 cm), and sometimes has a white tip. The presence of a Striped Skunk is often first made apparent by its odor. It has well-developed anal scent glands (characteristic of all skunks) that can emit a highly unpleasant odor when the skunk feels threatened by another animal. The skunk is primarily nocturnal. Beginning its search for food shortly after sundown, it feeds on mice, eggs, carrion, insects, grubs, and berries. At sunrise, it retires to its den, which may be in a ground burrow, or beneath a building, boulder, or rock pile. While the male dens by itself, several females may live together. The Striped Skunk does not hibernate.

Mink (Mustela vison)
Where found: Alaska, Canada and most of the United States
Description: Their long slim body is covered in glossy, thick dark brown or black fur with a white patch under the chin. They have short legs with partially webbed feet, which make them excellent swimmers. They can be found in wooded areas and fields near streams and lakes. They dig burrows in river banks or take over dens abandoned by other animals. They feed on small mammals, fish, crayfish, frogs and other amphibians, also sometimes eating birds, insects and earthworms. These animals are mainly active at night and do not hibernate.

Fisher (')

Otter (Lutrinae)

Description: Otters have a dense layer (1,000 hairs/mm², 650,000 hairs per sq. in) of very soft underfur which, protected by their outer layer of long guard hairs, keeps them dry under water and traps a layer of air to keep them warm. All otters have long, slim, streamlined bodies of extraordinary grace and flexibility, and short limbs; in most cases they have webbed paws. Most have sharp claws to grasp prey, but the short-clawed otter of southern Asia has only vestigial claws, and two closely-related species of African otter have no claws at all: these species live in the often muddy rivers of Africa and Asia and locate their prey by touch.

Weasel (Mustela)

Description: Weasels vary in length from 15 to 35 centimeters (6 to 14 inches), and usually have a light brown upper coat, white belly and black fur at the tip of the tail; in many species, populations living at high latitudes moult to a white coat with black fur at the tip of the tail in winter. They have long slender bodies, which enable them to follow their prey into burrows. Their tails are typically almost as long as the rest of their bodies. As is typical of small carnivores, weasels have a reputation for cleverness and guile. They also have tails that can be any where from 22-33cm long and they use these to defend the food they get and to claim territory from other weasels.

Badger (Taxidiinae)
Where found: It is found in the western and central United States, northern Mexico and central Canada, which in cases, is almost extinct and definately endangered. This animal prefers dry open areas with deep soils that are easy to dig, such as prairie regions.
Description: The stocky body is flattened covered with shaggy grizzled fur, and the legs are short and powerful with long sharp claws on the front paws and shorter claws on the back paws. The fur on the back and flanks of the animal ranges from grayish to reddish. The ventrum is a buffy color. The triangular face of the badger is distinct. The throat and chin are whitish, and the face has black patches. A white dorsal stripe extends back over the head from the nose. In northern populations, this stripe ends near the shoulders. In southern populations, however, it continues over the back to the rump. Badgers measure 52 to 87 cm from head to tail, with the tail making up only 10 to 16 cm of this length and generally weigh between 4 and 12 kg. Males are significantly larger than females and animals from northern populations are larger than those from southern populations.

Wolverine (Gulo gulo)
Where found: The Wolverine lives primarily in isolated northern areas, especially the arctic and alpine regions of Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia and Scandinavia; they are also native to Russia and the Baltic countries. Before the widespread European settlement of North America, however, the Wolverine was found as far south as the Sierra Nevada in California; a few remain in the Rocky Mountains of the United States.
Description: The Wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest land-dwelling species of the Mustelidae or weasel family (the Giant Otter is largest overall), and is the only species currently classified in the genus Gulo (meaning "glutton"). It is also called the Glutton or Carcajou. Two subspecies are recognized by some authors: the Old World form Gulo gulo gulo and the New World form G. g. luscus. A third subspecies limited to Vancouver Island (G. g. vancouverensis) might also be described. However craniomorphic evidence tends to incorporate the Vancouver Island wolverines into G. g. luscus.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Snake (')

Frog (')

Toad (')

Turtle (')


Crow (')

Robin (')

Pigeon (')

Sparrow (')

Heron (')

Herring Gull (')

Sand Piper (')

Canada Goose (')

Duck (')

Grouse (')

Turkey (')

2. Name at least three things that tracks tell us.

Animal tracks can tell us many things about the animal that made them, including:

  1. The species
  2. Its direction of travel
  3. How fast it was going
  4. How large it was
  5. How long ago the animal made the tracks.
  6. Sometimes tracks can tell the gender of the animal
  7. Sometimes tracks can tell us the animal's age.

3. Trail some animal tracks, identify the animal if possible, and tell whether it was running or walking. Measure between the tracks of one animal when running and walking.

4. Maintain a tracking station for at least three days by doing the following:

a. Select a flat open space in some quiet place near your camp or home.

Do not select a space too close to your campsite, because you do not want to attract them into your camp. Animals need water, so a really good place to select is around a source of fresh water. River banks, stream banks, near ponds, and the shores of lakes are all good places to fin animal tracks. However, the place you select must be quiet. Avoid places that are frequented by people.

b. Smooth out ground, mud, sand, etc.

There may already be some tracks in the area, but you are interested in fresh tracks. Smoothing the ground erases them and allows for fresh prints.

c. Place food out for wildlife.

Another option is to use a salt or mineral block. The type of food you place will affect the type of animals you attract, as will the season. If there is plenty of food available without your "bait," the animals will be suspicious and stay away. However, if they are hungry (as in winter) or if the food you select is irresistable, they will be more likely to come. Sliced apples out of season will attract many types of animals.

d. Check each day for tracks and replenish food when necessary.

When camping, remember to store your food in a place where the animals cannot get to it. Seal it tightly and place it out of the reach of raccoons and bears (both of which are very clever at getting food). Under no circumstances should you store food in a tent - especially in one that people will be sleeping in. A tent poses no barrier to a hungry skunk.

The morning is the best time to check for tracks. Most forest creatures are nocturnal, so in the morning the tracks will be freshest. Also, human visitors are less likely to trample the tracks before you get a chance to observe and if necessary, cast them.

5. Name two animals for each tracking group.

a. Flatfoots
Flatfoots include bears, raccoons, porcupines, and skunks.
b. Toe walkers
Toe walkers include dogs, cats, lynxes, wolves, and coyotes.
c. Toenail walkers
Toenail walkers include deer, antelope, moose, pigs, cattle, and horses. Basically, any hoofed animal is a toe walker.
d. Bounders or long hindleggers
These include rabbits, squirrels, mice, and rats.

6. Name four signs of the presence of mammals.

Animals leave many indications that they were present. These are collectively called sign. Sign includes:

Not only footprints, but marks left on the ground by the tail or by other body parts. Beavers and rats both leave tail marks on the ground.
Scat is another word for animal droppings or manure.
Fur and antlers
Animals may leave bits of fur behind if it gets caught in a tree's bark, or in thorns. In the fall deer drop antlers.
Cuttings are things such as acorn shells which have been nibbled on. Deer and squirrel often leave them behind.
Scratches on trees
Bears, members of the cat family, and other predators will sharpen their claws on tree trunks. Sometimes they will do this to mark their territory.
Scent Posts
Many animals mark their territory by urinating on trees or other prominent items. If you are walking through the woods and smell a strong musky odor, look around — you may find other sign.
Once a predator has had its fill of a kill, it will leave the carcass. Some animals will guard their carcasses though so they can feed on them again after they've digested some of the previous meal, so be careful if you find one.

7. Distinguish between rabbit and squirrel tracks, and between dog and cat family tracks.

Rabbit vs Squirrel Tracks

Dog vs Cat Tracks

Unlike dogs, cats can retract their claws, and they do so when walking. Therefore, you should expect to find claw marks present in dog tracks, but absent in cat tracks. In general dogs tracks are larger than cat tracks, but you cannot rely on this alone, as there are some very small dogs and some very large cats.

8. Name two groups of animals (mammals, birds, insects, etc.) that leave tracks or scent trails that another of their kind can follow.

Some species of mammal and some species of insect leave scent trails to communicate with others of their species. Canines, cats, deer, moose, and others will mark their territory with urine.

Ants lay down pheromone trails that lead to food sources. If you have ever seen a column of ants scurrying about in single file, you can be sure they are following a scent trail.

9. Name two birds for each of the following type of tracks:

a. Hopping

Most perching bird (passerines) hop, though many can both hop and walk (such as ravens, blackbirds, and robins). Jays, sparrows, cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, finches, and many others hop.

b. Walking

Walking birds include crows, most waterfowl and shore birds (sandpipers, egrets, herons, etc), and most game birds (wild turkeys, geese, ducks, grouse, doves, pigeons, etc).

10. Besides tracks, give two other signs of the presence of birds.

  • Feathers
  • Droppings
  • Nests
  • Birdsongs (if you can hear them, they must be present!)
  • Eggs or eggshells
  • Pellets: Birds of prey regurgitate the indigestible portions of their meals. Birds have no teeth so they rip their prey apart with their beaks and swallow large chunks at a time. Then they digest the soft portions (such as meat) leaving the hair and bones behind to collect into pellets. They cough up these pellets which can be found by the astute observer.

11. Name two birds identified by their flying patterns.

12. In your area, observe tracks or trail of one or more of the following:

a. Toad or frog

b. Snake

c. Turtle

d. Mollusk

e. Earthworm

f. Mole