Footprint Tunnel Instructions
The tunnel comprises:
- 1 large corrugated plastic sheet
- 1 tracking plate to record footprints
- 2 fixing pegs
- 20g dry powder paint
You will also need:
- 8 paper clips
- 2 sheets of white A4 paper
- Masking tape
- Vegetable oil (sunflower oil is fine)
- Bait – two pieces of tinned hot dog sausages work well, but feel free to try other suitable baits
Making the tunnel
The tracking tunnel comes in two parts: the large sheet which gets folded into a triangular shape (with tabs to secure the tunnel together) and a single tracking plate. The tracking plate is removable so that you can easily replace bait and ink, and remove your sheets of footprints.
Preparing the tracking plate
Using paperclips, secure two sheets of A4 paper to the tracking plate. Leave a gap of 16 cm at the centre of the plate between the two sheets. Then, apply two strops of 50mm wide masking tape, each at the top of each paper sheet, onto which the ink will be placed. There should remain a 60mm gap between this, which is where the bait is to be placed.
Mixing the ink.
Mix the powder with 3-4 teaspoons of vegetable oil, this should give you sufficient ink for 10 recordings. The powder and vegetable oil are both safe to be ingested and will ensure animals won’t be harmed when they lick the ink off their feet. Apply the ink to the masking tape strips. The ink should remain wet for approximately 6 days after which it will need to be replaced.
You will get the best results from your tunnel it if is placed next to or under a hedge or other edge habitat (e.g. woodland edges, fence line, garden shed) and bordering areas of grassland (e.g. pasture fields, parks, golf courses and amenity lands). Avoid pasture fields with livestock in as these are likely to be inquisitive and disturb the tunnel. Tunnels should be placed flush with the ground to avoid animals having to clime up into the tunnel. If placing onto soil or soft ground, the two fixing pegs can be used to stop the tunnel being blown away (one at each end if necessary).
Checking the tunnel
Each tunnel needs to be checked every day to ensure that it is still in position and to replace any bait that may have been eaten. If the bait has not been eaten, just leave it as it is. If footprints are recorded, then leave the paper in the tunnel. You can do the survey for as many nights as you wish.
So you have some footprints, but who do they belong to, check out our footprint identification page.
Recording your data
The National Mammal Atlas Project (NMAP) aims to produce the first national mammal atlas in over 20 years to present vital new baseline distribution data, which will be continually updated through ongoing monitoring. Records can be submitted through the Mammal Societies Record Submission page or through the Mammal Tracker App. Download the FREE Mammal Tracker app from the app store appropriate to your device, to record mammals when you’re out and about! Developed through the Heritage Lottery Funded MaWSE project.
Please also ad a photograph of your footprints to the HogBlog site and categories the post with your Tracking Tunnel name, if you don’t know what this is then email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask.