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Small Mammals

Class Details

3 Hours

4th Grade to Adult


Why are there so many numbers and species of small mammals? What’s their role in the ecosystem?

Students will learn the characteristics of some of the small mammals in northern Minnesota. By traveling through various habitats searching for small mammal signs, they will learn about the role these small creatures play in the environment. Students then set out live traps overnight to observe the animals caught before releasing them back again into the wild.

Lesson Plan


  1. Small mammals, while united by relative size, are diverse in their niches (habitats and roles).
  2. All living things have physical and behavioral adaptations which allow them to survive in their environment.
  3. Energy flows from one organism to another in a complex food web.
  4. Collecting data and making observations and comparisons are processes of knowing in science.


  • List the four characteristics that distinguish mammals from other animals.
  • Define niche and describe which niche is occupied by each of the small mammals native to northeastern Minnesota.
  • Find and interpret signs left by small mammals.
  • Describe a predator/prey relationship including small mammals.
  • Prepare and set a live trap for small mammals while responsibly monitoring and caring for the trap and any animals caught.