Signs of Life: How to Tell When an Animal Has Visited Your Home!

Just like people, animals leave behind signs of their presence, too! Here are some telltale signs to help you understand what kind of animals and birds have visited your property.

If you share your home with a roommate or your family, you’d know the telltale signs indicating that they are currently in the house, or that they have visited while you were away. The keys lying on the coffee table, or half-empty glass of water by the sink; each person leaves their own signature and those who know them well can recognise them. Similar observation, when tried outdoors, can tell you a whole lot of things about the place you are in. What kind of animals and birds frequent the area, when did they pass by, how many of them were there, why did they leave; a forest floor has many more answers than one imagines.

The most obvious sign of animals having visited an area is the presence of footprints. An easy guide will quickly tell you what kind of animal it is. While it is easier to identify elephants, tigers and bears from their footprints, one could also use this information to see what kinds of birds have visited the area. Long, slithery marks across the forest floor could even mean a snake has gone by. Not only can you identify the animal, but a little more experience would also help you identify the gender and gait as well!

Image Courtesy- Potapov Alexander-Shutterstock 

The next sign of an animal that has visited the area would be to find its scat. Common knowledge can help make quick conclusions about how recently the animal had passed by, and a little observation can tell you what kind of animal it is. The presence of fur in the poop means the animal was probably a carnivore, and if the poop is fresh, it may be sensible to leave the area soon!

Now and then you may even come across a patch of crushed grass or a place where an animal has rolled on the ground. Bits of fur left behind could tell you what kind of animal it was. Elephants are possibly the least discreet, with their large footprints and the broken bushes by the sides of the path. Every now and then there will be a broken branch lying onto the middle of the track, and their poop is hard to miss!

When looking for telltale signs on the ground gets exhausting, the next best thing to do would be to shut eyes and take a deep breath. Animals usually have a typical scent of their own, and elephants are the easiest to distinguish. Tigers are known to mark their territory by scratching trees and leaving their scent ñ another distinct scent that may remind you of freshly cooked basmati rice! The deep breath of air in the forest does many good things for you ñ it cleanses your soul, makes you smell the earth and trees and flowers around you, and it just is yet another telltale sign of an animal that has crossed your path.

Scents and signs in the jungle are also ways by which animals communicate with each other. It is pretty fascinating to think about all the interspecies communication when sometimes we struggle to talk to our own neighbour! I guess by being a little more observant and looking out for these little telltale signs, we could learn a lot more about the world around us.

Surabhi Ganguly

Surabhi Ganguly

Jeevoka member since Sep 2019

An electronic engineer by training, I have spent over a decade working with a large multinational company as a Systems Engineer with postings in India and Europe. The outdoors have fascinated me ever since I was a little girl, and so I have curiously ventured the wild with my binoculars, a bird book and the wish to know my surroundings better. Over the last fifteen years, I have visited many national parks across the country and have had several up, close and personal experiences with wildlife that I am excited to share here!