The Land Mammal Identification Course is an exciting opportunity to identify many British mammals through field signs, live-trapping and sightings.

The course is practically based with field and laboratory sessions designed to introduce a range of detection and identification skills. Please note this course does not look at bats. We will be identifying mammals by examination of museum specimens and small mammal trapping. The course will also include looking at species identification by droppings, footprints, owl pellet analysis and feeding signs. Students will gain an insight into recording exercises for mammals and will develop an understanding of aspects of mammal ecology and conservation and some of the licensing issues associated with British land mammals. The practical sessions we undertake are likely to mean long days with early mornings and late nights.


This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Debbie Alston

Debbie Alston is an experienced natural history tutor and Lecturer at the University of Derby. She is the Chair and Recorder for the Derbyshire Mammal Group and co-author of the county atlas, The Mammals of Derbyshire. Debbie has taught many mammal courses for a variety of organisations including the Mammal Society, the Field Studies Council, Chartered Institute for Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and local Wildlife Trusts.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Preston Montford, please email [email protected]

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the Centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

Arrive, dinner at 18.30pm. Evening session on an introduction to British Mammals.

Breakfast at 8am. Morning session on small mammal identification and setting Longworth Traps.
Afternoon session on identification of small mammals by signs. Evening session checking and resetting traps.

Checking and resetting traps before Breakfast. Morning session on larger mammal identification.
Afternoon session on larger mammal identification by signs and field practice around Preston Montford recording mammals. Evening session checking and resetting traps, possible badger watch and quiz.

Checking and collecting traps before breakfast. Morning field visit to record mammals. Afternoon summary and assessment for those on the accredited programmes. Depart 16.00pm.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

    • The evenings will still be cool and participants should bring lots of warm clothing.
    • Wet weather clothing, including waterproof trousers.
    • Stout walking shoes/boots and/or wellingtons.
    • A4 clipboard will be useful.
    • A x10 hand-lens* and camera will also be useful.
    • Sandwich box and vacuum flask/drinks container.
    • Laptop/tablet if you want to access the resources materials in the evenings.
    • Small plastic bags or pots, if you want to start your own mammal droppings reference collection!

* Available from the Centre Shop

Useful Books

  • Bang, P. & Dahlstrom, P. (1974) Collins Guide to Animal Tracks and Signs Collins, London UK.
  • Couzens,D., Swash, A., Still, R. & Dunn, J. (2017) Britain's Mammals: A Field Guide to the Mammals of Britain and Ireland. Wild Guides Princeton University Press Oxford, UK.
  • Gurnell, J. and Flowerdew, J.R. (2006) Live Trapping Small Mammals: A Practical Guide 4th Edition. The Mammal Society. London, UK.
  • Harris S., and Yalden D.W., (eds) (2008). Mammals of the British Isles: Handbook, 4th Edition. The Mammal Society Southampton, UK.
  • Strachan,R. (1995) Mammal Detective. Whittet Books, Suffolk, UK.