Some animals are amazing architects! Spiders weave webs, birds build nests, and beavers construct lodges and dams while also creating a habitat for many other animals. So let’s go on a hike to hunt for these and any other animal homes we can find!

Use your sleuthing skills to search for evidence that may lead you to an animal’s home. Do you see any tracks or animal footprints? Are there any feathers or fur on the ground?

How about animal droppings (poop or scat) or food an animal may have been eating, like pine cones, acorns, or berries? Listen for sounds to help you identify who may be living close by. Do you hear any bird songs, frog calls, or insects buzzing? Even your keen sense of smell can give you some clues. What do you think moss and fungi smell like, or is there a rotting log nearby? 

Here are some more animal habitats you can be on the lookout for:

  •       Tree hollows
  •       Mouse tunnels
  •       Rabbit warrens
  •       Mole hills
  •       Ant hills
  •       Snake holes
  •       Fox burrows
  •       Squirrel nests (called dreys)
  •       Dens
  •       Caves
  •       Hives
  •       Brush or rock piles
  •       Ponds, streams and lakes

Once you’ve made your discoveries, think like an engineer and notice the design, structure, and foundation of these homes. What materials would you need to make sure your shelter is strong and is a safe place to hide? Tell a story about who might live here. Is it a solitary animal living on its own, or a social animal as part of a community? How is it alike or different from your house? How does your home protect you and your family? What are some of the things that make it more cozy and comfortable? Check back throughout the seasons to see if there’s been any remodeling or repairs that have been made. If you’re really lucky, your detective work may pay off and you’ll catch a glimpse of the inhabitants of this “Home Sweet Habitat”!

And remember, if you do find an animal home, be careful not to disturb it! You never know, there may be a slumbering critter or two inside. 

Need assistance with identifying wildlife signs like tracks, trails, and scat? Check out https://www.almanac.com/content/animal-track-identification for tips on identifying common North American species. 

The Minnesota Zoo would love to see examples of how you used this activity at home! Please share pictures or comments via email at [email protected], and take less than 5 minutes of time to provide us feedback by completing this short survey.