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While we were doing the level one of the John Muir Award we spent a lot of time focusing on the National Curriculum’s science targets. One of the things we focussed on wasn’t actually on the curriculum, per se, but I thought it would be fun to look at some of the animals we find in our forests, their footprints if we can see them in the mud what they like to eat.

(As home educators we don’t have to follow the national curriculum, but I find it useful for knowing what kids should know at specific ages – for example when we started learning about plants, I tried to teach the girls about Xylem and Phloem and while they enjoyed the experiments, I’ll admit it went way over Aviya’s head. When I looked at the year 3 goals (her year age) the keywords were basic – stem, flower, roots etc! So I do like to follow the curriculum just so I know what level to pitch things at!)

There’s not a huge amount to this if you’re doing it just as a worksheet, but if you can get out into the forest and talk about the animals you can find and look for the foods they like and even perhaps track some of the footprints in the clay and mud you can make a decent day of it!

The picture page is laid out in the correct order, so take note of it before you cut them out, but you can also Google for images of the footprints if you get stuck.

Small Mammal Footprints

Squirrel have small front feet and larger hind feet. We’ve used red squirrels because they are our local, but grey squirrels are the same.  They have five toes, like all mammals, and all five show up in the footprints. The claw marks usually show in snow or mud. The feet have several pads. Squirrels are omnivores, which means they like to eat plants and meat. They mainly eat fungi, seeds, nuts and fruits, but they will also munch on eggs, small insects, caterpillars etc.

Dormouse feet are so small their prints can measure less than a millimeter! That’s smaller than the size of one of these letters! They are very hard to find in the wild. Dormice are omnivorous, typically feeding on fruits, berries, flowers, nuts, and insects.

Badger prints are very robust and broad. They have long claw marks and have five toe pads in front of a wide rear pad. The front-paw marks have longer claw marks, while the back-paw marks show the inner toes to be a little further forward. Badgers are omnivours.  They feed on worms, insects, fruits, berries, corn, rodents, reptiles, honey and even carrion; the badger adapts to any source of nutrition that it may find.

Bats sometimes walk on the ground at which point they make walking patterns, contacting with the thumbs on the tips of their wings – which are skin membranes connected to their other, elongated fingers – and their rear feet. Different species of bats have adapted to feed on a wide range of food sources. Although most bats feed on insects, the diets of some bats include fruit, nectar, blood, frogs, birds and fish.

Fox footprints look a lot like dog prints, with similar pads, but their feet are normally narrower than dogs. Foxes are primarily carnivorous, but will eat almost anything. 95% of an average rural fox’s diet consists of meat, mainly rabbits, rats, birds and small mammals. Insects and worms may constitute another 4% and the remaining 1% may consist of fruit.

You can download this worksheet for free, but you might find yourself added to a newsletter, should I ever get into the habit of sending out newsletters. By downloading it you’re agreeing to being added to the newsletter, but you’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time. 

Curriculum links:

Sc2/2.1b    identify that most living things live in habitats to which they are suited and describe how different habitats provide for the basic needs of different kinds of animals and plants, and how they depend on each other
Sc2/2.1c    identify and name a variety of plants and animals in their habitats, including microhabitats

Sc6/2.1a    describe how living things are classified into broad groups according to common observable characteristics and based on similarities and differences, including micro-organisms, plants and animals

Also have a look at our worksheets for:

Forest Spotter Guide

Layers of the Forest

Who Lives in the Forest Layers

Red Squirrel Crossword Puzzle

Bird Sounds (coming soon)