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Importance of understanding habits


Henry Arthur Readford
May 23, 2011
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Animal habits are often overlooked or rarely mentioned in tracking discussions mainly because they are talking about animals large enough to leave tracks and signs for you to follow, and in general speaking about hunting.
However the habits of animals are important if not more than tracks themselves. I will explain what I mean, Tracking is generally thought of as a method to locate an animal for hunting, but what if you are not a hunter is tracking an important skill to locate wildlife?

YES. Hunters are not the only people who use tracking skills; you may be a naturalist, birdwatcher or just class yourself as person who likes to observe nature. In this case some of your subjects are not big enough to leave tracks or signs, others may not walk on the ground and another reason habits are important knowledge even for the hunter is not every surface is the optimal tracking medium.
What do we include into habits? Anything that makes the subject of interest unique from others this would include things like:

• Is the animal an herbivore, omnivore or carnivore?
• Is the animal nocturnal or diurnal?
• Does the animal you are looking for live in the environment/locality you are in?
• Is it a bird, mammal etc.?
• Feeding behaviours
• Breeding behaviours

All animals leave some sign of their activities. They also have different ways to feed and protect their young. Understanding animal habits will help you understand tracks and signs as well, for example different gaits, difference in scat contents, also help you correctly ID the subject.

Habits of animals will tell you if a burrow is occupied or not and can tell you if they have young nearby. It will also help you find them if they go into hiding. Breeding seasons, migration patterns, nests/shelter types, eating and drinking habits can also be understood.

Even Master Trackers use the knowledge of habits of animals to locate and identify an animal. Just because you see a track that belongs to a wallaby without the knowledge of its natural environment/localities this does not mean you could identify it. The same would be for a perfect snake track knowing what species are local would ascertain the correct ID.

In summary understanding the habits of animals will help you locate, ID and observe your subject. This is not a separate way of tracking but is used in conjunction with other tracking methods and skills.


Never Alone In The Bush
Staff member
Jun 16, 2011
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Melbourne, Victoria
Very good points.

Its not just the tracks, its where to look for the tracks in concert with the animal's habits.


F. C. Selous DSO
May 5, 2011
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Part of habits is also to understand that animals are just like people, they are lazy... they like to do the same things, at the same times, in the same places.
This is how runs and trails are established, you will generally find that wildlife will move along a set route at a similar time of day to do a similar task, be it to feed, drink or rest... the only times such routines are broken is when a threat is percieved or during mating season.

Predatory animals will "Patrol" a set range, herbivours will follow lines of easy passage, birds will stay within their set territory and move via the quickest & safest routes to and from water, feed and bedding areas... just like people do...


Richard Proenneke
Jan 15, 2012
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I think (visual) pattern recognition also plays a part - once i've found a few of my subjects, photography wise, I find it increasingly easier to spot them in the bush. Combining all of the things you guys have mentioned above with the brains ability to recognise patterns it has learned and you have the foundations of finding prey.