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Muddy Faces

Make a footprint tunnel

Mammals can be tricky to spot – learn how to make a footprint tunnel to see who visits your garden.



A great activity donated to us by the Mammal Society.

If you haven't got a wildlife camera you could try this activity to see who visits your garden.

Main image credit: Wild South c/o Mammal Society.

What you'll need

  • Corrugated plastic or an old storage box
  • A4 paper
  • Paper fasteners
  • Masking tape
  • Shallow tray
  • Paint brush
  • Carbon powder (charcoal powder)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Meaty pet food

Mammal Society

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

  • leave no trace

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • cutting plastic
  • pet food & ink not for human consumption

Step #1 Make the tunnel

Use the plastic to make a triangular tunnel with sides roughly 23cm in length. The tunnel needs to be 90cm long to hold 2 x A4 sheets, plus space for 'ink' and food.

Secure the A4 sheets to the base of the tunnel at each end using paper fasteners.


Step #2 Place resources in tunnel

Put the tray filled with bait (pet food) in the centre of the tunnel.

Completely cover the spaces between the paper and the bait tray with masking tape strips all the way across.

In a bowl, combine one-part veg oil and one-part carbon powder then mix well. This is your 'ink'. Paint the ink liberally onto the masking tape.

Alternatives to Charcoal Powder

Ground up wood charcoal would work but it’s not that healthy for ingestion by animals cleaning their feet. Children's poster paint powder is OK as it’s non-toxic.


Step #3 Wait and see

Place the tunnel in a sheltered area of your garden and check the paper for mammal footprints each day.

Take it further

If you are lucky enough to see some footprints you can have a guess at what creature left the prints, then use an ID guide to see if your guess was correct!

Look at the Mammal Society's Mammal Feet, Toes & Tracks flipbook. Link below:

A Footprint Tunnel activity carried out by Four Marks Church of England Primary School- Hampshire

Top Tip: Place the tunnel close to undergrowth like brambles not in an open space.

The school identified the prints as:

  • yellow necked mouse
  • bank vole
  • short tailed field vole

Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

Field Guide - British Mammals Tracks & Signs

£4.00 exVAT

This British mammals tracks and signs field guide would be perfect for early childhood settings and schools. Fold-out charts, designed to help users identify of a wide range of plants and animals and support outdoor learning.

Buy now

Woodland Footprint Set

£24.99 exVAT

This is a set of 8 animals and their footprints - 16 discs in total. The set also includes an identification card to help you match the correct footprints to the animal, some string to hang them up and a cloth ...

Buy now

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

Key Features

  • Age Range All Ages
  • Duration Less than an hour
  • Location Anywhere
  • Season Any
  • Categories: Nature


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