When surveying mammals in your garden, there are a number of signs that they have been visiting:
If mammals are using your garden they may well create clear access points or pathways leading to and from favoured feeding areas. Holes made under fences, fur snagged on wire fences, food dropped along the pathway, scratch marks on trees and maybe the size of the entrance to any burrows will all give clues as to what is present.
Keep track with what’s going on…
Norfolk Wildlife Trust has set up a ‘Tracks, Trails and Signs’ section on the photo gallery
. You might just find a photograph that matches your trail, burrow or track.
Any mammals using your garden will leave tracks, although these may be hard to spot. If you place some sand (perhaps in a large tray or container) in a shallow pit close to suspected feeding sites or across established trails, any mammals using the area may leave their tracks which you can then identify by use of a good field guide. Muddy margins or garden ponds will also be a good spot to look for tracks.
Step this way…
Have you got an animal footprint you would like help identifying? Check out some common footprints here
or submit your photograph
online. Include information on the size of the footprint and where it was taken.
The size, shape, colour and consistency of droppings will provide excellent, often conclusive, indicators as to what is using your garden. For example: foxes leave quite large droppings with distinctive tapered ends, whilst hedgehog droppings are shiny and black, and will often contain hard remains of beetles and other invertebrates.
For some droppings you might find in your garden click here.
Small rodents will readily store supplies of fruit and nuts, and their remains can help you determine the species group responsible. Seeds and nuts are dealt with in very different ways by mice, voles and squirrels, and all three leave quite distinct gnawing patterns.
Foxes have a wide-ranging diet and will sometimes leave conspicuous remains of their meal on your lawn or in your flower-beds. For example, a trail of woodpigeon feathers could well be the work of a fox. They will readily feed on carrion and even dig up shallow-buried remains. Scattered contents of rubbish bags can also be a good indicator of their presence.
Badgers will also dig for food, and holes scratched in your lawn may well the be work of these hungry animals - especially in dry weather, when their prey may be driven deeper underground.