Wildlife Watching Tips

Categories // Mammals

Wildlife Watching Tips

Nothing is more exciting than spotting a wild animal when you’re out in the wilderness.  No matter how big or small the animal is, it’s fun to watch it living its life—hunting for food, building its home, or exploring its territory.  If you’re patient and observant, you can catch wild animals doing some fascinating things.  You might see chipmunks chase each other up and down trees, watch rabbits eating, or see a deer strolling through a field.  These tips will help you have a great wildlife-watching experience.

Keep Your Distance
Most wildlife encounters end because the animals scurries away.  That almost always happens because it’s spotted you and is afraid of what you might do.  If you want to animal to stay, so you can watch it longer, you’ll need to do two things: keep very quiet, and don’t get too close.  How close is too close, you ask?  If you see the animal looking at you or adjusting its behavior because of you, then you’re too close.  Take very slow steps backward and you just might convince the animal that it’s safe enough to stay.

Move Slowly
Strange as it sounds, most animals of the world assume that you’re a hunter who wants to eat them.  If you want to see animals in the wild, it’s your job to convince the animals that you’re safe to be around.  Quick movements seem dangerous to animals, so hold very still—it’s handy to pretend that you’re a rock.  If you have to move, to scratch your nose for instance, move your hand very slowly.

Stay Quiet
Quiet is very important to wild animals.  In the animal world, everything is either a hunter or prey.  If it’s a prey animal—an animal that gets eaten by other animals—then it has to stay quiet to keep from being heard and caught.  If it’s a hunting animal, it needs to keep quiet so it can sneak up on its prey.  In other words, nothing in the animal world is noisy.  Being noisy would ruin its chances of finding a good meal or living another day, so of course animals are quiet!

If you want to see animals, it’s important that you be quiet, too.  Animals will never come near somebody who’s shouting or singing or laughing loudly.  To them, that sounds like trouble.  If you’re having a hard time spotting any animals, try sitting down in one place and seeing how long you can keep quiet.  Odds are that, before you’re done, you’ll have spotted a wild creature of some kind.

Timing Is Everything
Animals are most active in the early morning and at dusk.  If you want to see wildlife, you need to be out at that time of day, too.  Compromise on this with your family.  If they don’t want to get up early, see if you can take a walk at dusk.  If dusk is when your family’s busy making dinner, ask if an early-morning hike is something everyone would enjoy. 

Be Careful
Some wild animals can be very dangerous—too dangerous to watch unless you’re in a zoo or special wildlife sanctuary.  Bears, alligators, moose, bison, wolves, and all types of wild cats (lynx, bobcat, mountain lion, jaguars) are all animals you should only watch when there are grown-ups with you.  If you’re out on your own and you see one of these animals, leave right away and go tell a grown up.  There are safe ways to watch these animals, so if you’re really eager to see one, tell your parents and they can help you see a bear or a wolf in a safe place. 

See if you can spot all the mammals on our Wildlife Viewing Checklist.