Virtual Museum – Animal Detectives

Animals leave behind clues all the time. When exploring your neighborhood or backyard, you might be lucky enough to see an animal, but even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the creature itself, you can still tell they’ve been nearby! Go on a scavenger hunt and collect clues about what animals might live nearby. Birds? A squirrel? Maybe some snails? You might be surprised what you find!


  • Paper or notepad
  • Pen or pencil
  • Optional: crayons or markers
  • Optional: a camera


  1. What is your theory? Use that to form a hypothesis! What creatures have you seen living nearby? What do you think you might find during your scavenger hunt?
  2. Head outside and look for clues. Take photos or make notes of what you find. Look for the following types of clues:
    • Animals homes — nests, burrows, webs
    • Sheds or molts — feathers, fur, exoskeletons
    • Animal scat — bird droppings or other animal waste
    • Tracks, prints, or a trail — footprints, scratch marks, a path of shiny slime
    • Leftovers — a nibbled leaf or something else eaten by an animal
  3. Draw a conclusion. Look through your notes or photos. Did you find anything surprising? Anything especially amazing? Who do you think left these clues? Take some time to more fully sketch out your field notes to remember what you found. You can look again another day and see if anything has changed.