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Be a Nature Detective

May 15, 2013

Paw Print Learn About the AnimalsWith summer fast approaching, Girl Scouts return to the great outdoors. Hiking, trailblazing, and camping—all of it happens where wild animals make their homes, and while you’re out there, you’ll have lots of opportunities to learn more about them!

Animal tracks are the imprints that animals leave behind on any surface they walk across—soil, mud, and snow. If you’re observant during your nature travels, you may find a variety of animal tracks, just by looking carefully at the ground.

Naturalists use paw prints, hoofprints, and bird tracks to identify animals living in a given area. You can use them to become a nature detective and observe the daily paths of wild animals in their natural habitats.

No human footprint is exactly the same, and so it goes with animals. Different types of animals have unique feet that are perfectly suited to their lifestyle. These feet are highly adapted to the environment, and suited for running at different speeds, climbing, jumping, catching prey—and even flying!

Younger Girl Scouts can play our Paw Print Memory Game to get familiar with the distinctive footwork made by brown bears, mountain lions, porcupines, geese, and others. Click on the cards to see all the telltale tracks made by different animals. Note the shape of each colorful paw print, hoofprint, or bird track and see what makes it different from all the rest. Remember their places on the board—and have fun making matched sets of fancy fauna (or animal) footwork. You’re learning that our animal friends have really neat feet!

Older Girl Scouts step up the challenge with our Paw Print Matching Game. Identify paw prints, hoofprints, and bird tracks, and match them with the animals that made them by matching each print or track with a photo of the animal. Make the connection between what you know about an animal and the kind of feet it needs to survive and thrive.

Once you’ve played the games, click on the fun facts page to learn more about the featured animals behind the fancy footwork. Discover why foxes have fur on the bottoms of their feet, why a stork’s foot is only slightly webbed, which animal has teardrop-shaped toe pads, and more. Now you know that our animal friends really are fascinating—from head to toe!