The footprint tunnel is a new and innovative survey tool to track footprints of small to medium mammals, including hedgehogs, mice etc.
How does it work?
Footprint tunnels (or tracking tunnels) are a non-invasive tool to look for the presence of mammals in a habitat by identifying their footprints. The tunnels are placed along hedgerows or other edge habitat overnight and baited. Mammals walk over ink-pads to reach the bait inside and then leave their footprints on special paper. Each species has a different footprint and so the ink marks on the paper will show which species visited inside the tunnel.
The whole family can get involved. Use the tunnel to capture the footprints of whatever passes through your garden in the night, then look up their footprints online to find out which animals went through the tunnel. The 22cm high unit will track smaller mammals such as hedgehogs, mice etc, but adult badgers and foxes are unlikely to fit down the tunnel.
Scientifically speaking, is it effective?
This unit initially was developed at Nottingham Trent University in an attempt to replace spotlight transect surveys, which weren't very effective at detecting hedgehogs. The Mammal Society ran trials and found footprint tunnels to be statistically more effective at detecting hedgehogs (which is a difficult species to survey).
Want to know more about helping the UK’s hedgehogs and other small mammals?
Read our conservation reports on:
Need more resources?
The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has produced an extremely detailed guide for detecting hedgehogs using footprint tracking tunnels. You can read it here.
They’ve also produced a neat little sign you can print and attach to your tunnel.
Note: Looking for The Mammal Society Tracking Tunnel? You’ll find it here.
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