Children in treehouse illustration
Image: DOC


Use your detective skills and help us track down small mammals like rats, stoats and mice. Earn a Kiwi Guardians medal for becoming a backyard detective!

These mammals chew seedlings, nibble seeds and destroy insects. They also eat lizards and birds and their eggs. 


A tracking tunnel records what is living in your backyard. In the bush, DOC rangers use tracking tunnels to record where small animals pass through.

Small mammals like tunnels so they scamper in to get the bait, then leave their footprints as they pass through.The footprints show what animals are there and where animals feed.

Download this activity

Become a backyard detective (PDF, 1,398K)

Tracking tunnel.
Tracking tunnel

What you need

  • 2 large plastic milk bottles
  • craft knife or scissors
  • piece of wood
  • polythene wrap
  • red food colouring
  • sponge
  • small plastic tray
  • peanut butter or raw meat
  • sheets of white paper
  • piece of wire

What to do

1. Make your tracking tunnel

  1. Cut off both ends of the milk bottles.
  2. Slide one bottle into the other to extend the tunnel.
  3. Put the piece of wood into the joined bottles to make a floor.
  4. Wrap the tunnel in polythene or a piece of cloth to darken it.
  5. Soak a sponge in food colouring and place it on the plastic tray.
  6. Put the peanut butter on a leaf as lure and place it in the middle of the sponge.
  7. Place the sheet of paper on the tunnel floor and put the tray on the middle of the paper.

2. Set your tracking tunnel

Put your tracking tunnel out in the garden overnight.

To hold your tunnel in place, bend the wire into a U shape and place it over your tunnel and into the ground.

Check the paper sheets each morning – how many animal footprints can you see? The Pest Detective website can help you identify the footprints you find.

You may need to add new lure and food colouring, or new sheets of paper if you have lots of visitors to your tunnel.

Claim your Kiwi Guardians Pest Detective medal

Kiwi Guardians medal for becoming a pest detective.
Kiwi Guardians medal for becoming a backyard pest detective

Complete the claim form to tell us about your activity, and we'll send you a medal. Each Kiwi Guardians action has a different medal – see how many you can collect.

Share what you did

The team at Toyota Kiwi Guardians would love to hear about what you did. Send us an email, or share something online using #KiwiGuardians, so we can share it with others. Visit Kiwi Guardians on Facebook.

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