Rotorua Canopy Tours Conservation for Kids

In the school holidays our kids need plenty to do and what better way to keep them busy by getting them involved in some conservation in your own backyard. At Rotorua Canopy Tours, conservation is something we’re pretty passionate about!

Check out this fun and educational way your kids can become a pest detective by making tracking tunnels!

Rotorua Canopy Tours Conversation -tracking-tunnel Photo Credit :

What are tracking tunnels?  

Tracking tunnels are what we use at Rotorua Canopy Tours to see what kinds of animals are in the forest. This is how it works:

Inside the tunnel is a container lid with a sponge soaked in food colouring in the middle. We put peanut butter in the center of the sponge so the animal will walk across the coloured sponge to eat the food (see image below). They then walk out of the tunnel with ink on their feet and the footprints that are left will show us the type of pest that has walked through the tunnel. Once the pests have been identified you can get the correct traps to remove these animals.

rotorua canopy tours conservation-tracking-tunnels

Photo Credit :

How to make your own tracking tunnel

You can be as creative as you want with your tracking tunnel but here are some basic guidelines and a video on what you will need and how to make the tunnel.

Materials you will need :

  • 2 plastic milk bottles
  • 1 milk lid
  • scissors/craft knife
  • rubber bands
  • black rubbish bag
  • piece of wood
  • food coloring
  • a sponge
  • a lid from a butter container
  • peanut butter
  • sheet of white paper
  • wire coat hanger

Steps to putting the tracking tunnel together :

  1. Cut off both ends of the milk bottles
  2. Slide one bottle into the other
  3. Darken the tunnel by wrapping the milk bottles in a black rubbish bag
  4. Wrap the piece of wood in white paper securing it with the rubber bands and slid the piece of wood into the milk bottles for a base
  5. Put food colouring on the plastic lid and soak it onto the sponge
  6. Place a dollop of peanut butter in the milk bottle lid and put it in the middle of the sponge
  7. Place the plastic lid (with the sponge and peanut butter) in the middle of the tunnel on top of the piece of wood.


Where to put the tunnel
  • Find a good place in the backyard where you think the pests may live, or use as a source of food e.g. compost or near the side of the house or fence as rats and mice like to feel secure and safe
  • Once you have found an ideal spot, hold the tunnel in place by putting the wire into a U shape and place it over your tunnel and into the ground.
Checking your tunnel

Check your tunnel every morning to see if you need to replace the peanut butter or food colouring. After 4-5 days you should have a pretty good idea of what pests are living in your garden.

Distinguishing the footprints 

Check out the Kiwi foundation Organisation page to see what the different footprints look like. If you do find that the paper shows mice or rat footprints then you can catch them! Simply place a trap in your tunnel – which also makes it safer for birds!

Now that your child is a backyard detective and your garden is free of pests you can claim their Kiwi Guardians Medal with DOC here. 


Check out this video of Rotorua Canopy Tours Staff member, Ana following the steps to making a tracking tunnel.

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