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In this outdoor, night activity, learners track nocturnal animals' footprints, droppings and other signs of their presence. By setting out animal bait that has nontoxic, blacklight fluorescent powder mixed in, and waiting a couple nights or more, learners can discover glow-in-the dark signs of where night mammals have been and what they did. Learners consider what night animals are most abundant in a particular area, what favorite trails they used, and how human bait provision affects wild animals.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 7 days

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Field Trip, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • portable fluorescent lantern with F6T5 bulb
  • blacklight fluorescent bulb F6T5 BLB
  • 18-gram package of blacklight-fluorescent tracing powder (zinc sulfide)
  • bait (bird seed, peanut butter, cereal, etc.)
  • sturdy tablespoon for mixing bait
  • jar or cup for holding bait
  • several regular flashlights
  • 5" X 8" index cards or pieces of cardboard
  • paper and pencil for keeping records
  • field guide to animal tracks (optional)
  • several sturdy teaspoons


  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • The Scientific Worldview
      • Asking Questions
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Gathering Data
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, The Regents of the University of California, 1981