Animals leave telltale signs on tree trunks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 12:00am

It is never easy to see wild animals in the forest because most of them are shy. Sometimes, the animals are cleverly camouflaged.

However, we can guess what kinds of animals are around the forest by taking a close look at the signs on tree trunks.

Badgers and rodents make use of trees to clean their paws and usually leave claw marks and mud at the tree's base.

Rabbits like chewing around tree trunks to sharpen their teeth. They leave a complete circle around the trunk.

Deer like to tear off strips of bark from trees as their emergency food source and leave high thin marks on the bark.

Squirrels are active forest dwellers. They not only tear tree bark but also eat the sap from the centre. Torn bark hanging from branches is evidence showing squirrels have climbed up the tree to feed.

Woodpeckers leave very clear marks on trees. These birds use their strong and long bills to dig holes in the trunk. They search for insect larvae on trees as well as store nuts they have collected.

Not much research has been done on animals' marks in Hong Kong. Wild animals such as porcupines gnaw tree bark and leave marks similar to those made by rabbits. The barking deer in Hong Kong may also leave similar marks to those of deer elsewhere in the world.

WWF HK is a local charity environmental organisation established in 1981 which aims to build a future in which people can live in harmony with nature. For information, call 2526- 1011 or e-mail to