Footprint Tunnel Survey

Play detective in this simple fun survey!

Footprint tunnels are a non-invasive tool to look for the presence of mammals in a habitat by identifying their footprints. Mammals walk over ink-pads to reach bait inside, and leave footprints on special paper as they do so. It's a great survey for the whole family to find out what passes through your garden in the night!

The footprint tunnel was initially developed at Nottingham Trent University to replace spotlight transect surveys, which weren't very effective at detecting hegdehogs. The Mammal Society ran pilot studies in 2011 and 2012 which found the tunnels to be statistically more effective at detecting hedgehogs.

Now you can have a go! All the records you submit goes towards the National Mammal Atlas Project (NMAP).

How to take part and submit results:

  1. Purchase a Footprint Tunnel Kit from Wildcare here - £15.54 (inc VAT)
  2. Download ASSEMBLY INSTRUCTIONS here
  3. Place your baited tunnels with ink pads and paper in edge-habitat / garden etc, overnight
  4. Return the next day, replace bait and paper if repeating, or collect it all in

How long should I leave my tunnels out and how many should I use?

If you just want to see what's in your garden or local patch, leave one tunnel out for just one night. You can use it as many times as you wish, but only send us results each time a new mammal is identified. 


The 10-tunnel Survey

The University of Reading and Nottingham Trent University, in collaboration with the People's Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society are co-ordinating a national 10-tunnel survey. Volunteers will need to place 10 tunnels within a 1km area and leave them out for 5 nights, checking daily. This intensive surveying aims to gain a better understanding of where hedgehogs can be found at the current time and to identify factors associated with their presence / absence, such as habitat features, land management practices and badgers. This should then allow conservation efforts to be concentrated where populations are struggling.

Please visit the People's Trust for Endangered Species to find out more about the survey and to register as a volunteer. They need 400 sites surveyed across the next year.


Want to know what passed through in the night?

DOWNLOAD the free printable guide to help ID the species that used the tunnel and ate your bait!

These are Hedgehog footprints, quite distinctive with three toes forward of the other two on the front foot (left). The rear foot is also shown (right).

The image to the right shows footprints, as made by a real hedgehog in one of our footprint tunnels in Kent.